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The Wick of My Candle Is Too Short. What Should I Do?

No matter the season, lighting a scented candle at home is one of life’s great pleasures. Nothing compares to the experience of an evocative fragrance and a gentle ambiance. But what should you do if the wick of the candle is too short to light?

This isn’t a reason to throw it away. Here are a few techniques to save your favorite candle.

Why is the wick too short?

The wick of the candle can be too short for several reasons. Some are due to usage, while others are related to the manufacturing of the product.

Sometimes, improper use can be the cause of the issue. Here are some common mistakes:

  • The wick hasn’t been trimmed. If you don’t maintain it properly, a “mushrooming” phenomenon can occur on the burned wick, leading to uneven burning. The wick absorbs the melted wax, and a buildup of carbon forms at the top, resembling a black “mushroom.”
  • A wick trimmed too short can also cause problems. Don’t worry if this happens! You’ll find the solution a little further in this article.
  • Your candle has “tunneled” during burning. This happens when only a small area of wax near the wick burns down, creating a tunnel. The deeper the tunnel, the more the wick is at risk of being buried in the wax. You’ll find solutions to this problem here.
Short Candle Wick
Short Candle Wick

If tunneling is the issue, it likely means that the candle has a manufacturing defect. It’s possible that the number of wicks in the candle doesn’t match its size, or the candle wasn’t designed for the wax to burn completely. This can lead to a number of issues.

The wick size compared to the wax. Since a short wick leads to faster burning upon ignition, the wick becomes “drowned” in the wax. Once the wax cools and hardens, the wick becomes too short to be lit. Alternatively, it’s buried under the top layer of wax.

When you purchased your candle, the wick was buried in the wax. This issue can arise during warmer months: the wax melts during delivery or transportation. The longer it remains in this state, the more the wick is at risk of becoming buried or too short to be lit.

Significant temperature variations during colder months can cause the wax to expand and contract. This can make it difficult to light the candle due to the length of the wick.

Prevention is better than cure

To prevent the wick from becoming too short, it’s essential to promote even burning. When you light the wick, ensure that it burns long enough to melt the top layer of wax. This notably avoids the formation of a tunnel.

It’s also recommended to trim the wick to ½ cm after each use. If you don’t trim it, the next time you light the candle, you’ll be at a higher risk of creating a “mushroom” at the tip of the wick!

Promote Even Burning
Promote Even Burning

How to resolve the problem

There are three methods to fix a too-short wick that depend entirely on whether you can still light the candle.

Firstly, light the candle if you still can. Let it burn for 30 minutes while keeping an eye on it. If the wick doesn’t burn properly and the flame flickers, extinguish the candle and try again.

Absorb excess wax with a paper towel while it cools so that you can relight the wick and let it burn. Repeat this process until the top layer of wax is completely melted before extinguishing the candle and letting the wax cool around the wick.

If you can’t light the wick, use a heat gun or a hairdryer to melt the wax around the wick. Remove the wax using a paper towel or pour it into a container. You can also remove the melted wax using a spoon or a butter knife. Once the wick is clear, light it using the method mentioned above.

If the wick is completely buried, it might be because it’s long enough but has bent when the wax cooled. In this case, melt the wax using a heat gun, hairdryer, or a long lighter, then carefully lift the wick with tweezers.

As the candle begins to cool, hold the wick in place until the wax hardens. Once the wax has completely cooled, trim the wick to ½ cm to prevent it from drowning again.

For more tips on solving candle issues, read our article on how to prevent tunneling here or on flame flickering here.

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