Candle Care 101

Today we’re going to class to learn the proper way to get the most out of your Big Gay Collective candles.

Green chalkboard with "The Big Gay Collective LLC" and "Candle Care 101" written on it with white chalk. Black classroom chairs behind a brown wood desk sit in front of the chalkboard, facing front.

We use candles to give our spaces a warm, cozy glow and perfume the air with our favorite fragrances. They have the ability to transform any space from dull and gross to beautiful and calm. Candles do a lot for us, but damn! They can be expensive! Let’s talk about how to make sure you get the most out of your candles and make them burn as long as possible. To do so, proper care is essential. Here are some tips, tricks, and techniques that will allow you to enjoy your candles for an extended amount of time. 


Black background with white font that says "hashtag: wick size matters" and "trim your wicks" on top of and below a white ruler.

This isn’t innuendo! The best wicks are trimmed wicks. Trimming your wick is the best and most effective way to ensure your candle doesn’t burn too fast. Before lighting up, trim the length of the wick to ¼” in length. If you don’t, your wick will be too long, which can lead to the wick smoking (definitely bad for its health), uneven burning, and a shorter overall burn time. If you trim your wick before each burn, you’ll get a clean, steady flame and the wax will melt more evenly. So, don’t be a dick. Trim your wick. 


Olaf from the movie Frozen is a fictional, humanized snowman floating on a pale blue puddle of water with ripples emanating from his snowman body.

Your first burn is important. Why? Don’t make me say it in an Olaf voice, because I will. And it will be annoying. BUT wax – like water – has memory.

That means the first burn of your candle will determine how it burns every subsequent time you light it. Give your candle enough time to create a full melt pool on the top of the candle. The entire top layer of wax should be liquid from edge to edge of the vessel. For The Big Gay Collective’s 4-oz. candles, that’s about an hour. For 8-oz., roughly 2 hours. If you do this, you’ll avoid the dreaded tunneling.

Dramatic chipmunk gif glaring at the camera in a dramatic fashion. The chipmunk is brown standing on a red surface in front of a blue background.

Tunneling is the scourge of candles, candlemakers, and candle-burners. You NEVER want tunneling. Tunneling is when the wick burrows a hole down into the dark, unloving depths of the candle, leaving a dramatic amount of wax that will never burn. Never escape. Never know the privilege of evaporating into the air and giving you fragrant pleasure. THE HORROR!

This should be avoided at all times. If you give your candle time to form a full melt pool on the first burn, this won’t be a problem. 


A purple glitter background with white text overlay that says "Keep Calm and Light a Candle." There is a small white crown above the text.

Why are candles so freakin’ finicky? I know. I hear you. They’re like taking care of a child, if that child could burn your house down. Keeping your candle away from drafts can significantly increase its burn time and keep you safe.

A graphic of a cross section of a lit candle in black, white, and grey. Text written around the image tells how a candle works.

Here’s how a candle works: a wick is placed into a vessel. Wax is poured around the wick, encapsulating and protecting the wick in wax. The wick is lit. The heat makes the wax molten. The molten wax travels up the wick and evaporates, lowering the amount of wax left in the vessel. The wick is no longer protected by the wax and burns down, following the wax to the bottom of the vessel. Ta-da! Easy to explain, but here's a picture in case you're a visual learner or just don't like reading.

However, if you place your candle in a drafty area – by a window, under a fan, etc. – the wax will evaporate more quickly and you’ll be left with a wick nub and no smelly stuff at the bottom of a container. I get it. You want to blow the scent of your candle into the room and circulate the fragrance in the atmosphere. Great. But well made candles will naturally be strong enough to perfume your entire space. So don't do that.

Another reason to keep candles away from drafts? Safety. What if something were to get picked up in that same draft – say...a curtain by a window – and blow into the flame? Most candlemakers carry insurance. Please do NOT be the person that forces them to have to use it! 


You’re going to hate this tip. Why? Because I already told you to burn your candles for "long enough." Then I told you candles have memory and are finicky. Now? Now I’m telling you not to burn your candles for too long. I KNOW! I’m the worst!

There’s a window for how long you should burn a candle to make it last longer. And that window is.....? Not an exact number. It’s somewhere between the candle forming a full melt pool and 3 or 4 hours. I told you you were going to hate me.

The thing is, just like you can under-burn a candle and get tunneling, you can very easily over-burn a candle, too. Over-burning can create too much heat in the vessel, which could result in a shattered vessel. Is that super likely? No. Is there a teeny tiny, miniscule chance it could happen? Definitely. And you don't want it to happen to you.

As a chandler, I test my vessels vigorously with the correct wick and power burns where I burn the candles for many, many, many hours. This ensures you are getting the safest candle I can possibly make. However, that does not mean you can burn a candle as long as I do. Please don’t, in fact! Put your candles out after 3 to 4 hours of continuous burning so you can enjoy your candle longer.

McGruff the anti drug dog stands in front of a green background with a giant red stop sign with the word NO written on it. The text is white and says "Just say no to overburning candles." McGruff is in a khaki trench coat and is wearing black trousers and shoes. Like all drug fighting dogs in the 80s.

From trimming your wick to proper draft-free placement, and burning it long enough but not too long, getting the most out of your candle is quite simple. Candle care doesn’t have to be rocket science, but pays off if you know how to do it properly. Give it a try, let me know your best candle care tips and tricks in the comments, and Have a Big Gay Day!


This post is made with 100% human content.

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