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Candle Tunneling: What it is & How to Make Sure It Doesn’t Happen

It’s happened to all of us… You spend the time sampling fragrances to pick out the perfect one, then bring your favorite new candle home to enjoy it. After just a handful of uses, however, you’re dismayed to find a tunnel has melted through the center of the candle while the wax around it remains solid.

Tunneling is a common problem but, fortunately, one that is easy to solve.

Aside from starting with a candle crafted from quality materials designed to ensure an even burn, knowing when and how long to use your candle can keep tunneling from becoming an issue.

Here’s what you need to know…

What is Tunneling? Why Does It Happen?


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If you’ve never experienced it yourself, tunneling is a simple concept to understand. Just picture a candle where only the wax directly around the wick melts while the candle is lit. Rather than the entire surface of the wax melting and the candle burning off slowly, the flame burrows its way deeper into the candle to create a tunnel effect.

Tunneling is a self-perpetuating problem. Once a tunnel forms, only the wax right underneath the flame will melt and turn liquid. The wax around the inside of the vessel remains solid and, as the tunnel deepens, it prevents oxygen from getting to the flame. Not only do you waste more wax as the tunnel deepens, but the burn time of the candle decreases as well.

Simple Tips to Stop Tunneling Before it Starts

LAFCO Wick Trimmer, Matches, and Candles

Once tunneling starts to happen, it’s only going to get worse unless you do something to stop it. The best offense in this situation is a good defense – use your candle properly from the get-go to prevent issue like tunneling.

Follow these tips to use your candle properly and prevent tunneling:

  1. Start with a candle made from quality materials like soy wax and cotton wicks to ensure a clean and even burn.
  2. Make sure the number of wicks is appropriate for the size of the candle – large diameter candles may need two or even three wicks to burn evenly.
  3. Always trim your candle wick to between 1/8 and ¼ inch long before you light it – scissors or nail clippers may work but we recommend using a wick trimmer.
  4. Keep candles away from air vents and windows where drafts might cause the candle to burn unevenly.
  5. Let your candle burn long enough that the entire top layer of wax melts into an even pool.
  6. When burning candles for multiple hours, check the wick for carbon accumulation – if the wick starts to “mushroom” you may need to trim it again.

If your candle has already started tunneling, don’t despair – you can fix it. The key is to melt the outer ring of wax to even out the surface. As long as the tunnel is still fairly shallow, you can melt the surrounding wax using a hair dryer or you can line the rim of the vessel with foil to help redirect some of the heat from the flame back down into unmelted wax.

For severe tunneling, you may need to scrape out some of the excess wax before melting the rest to even out the surface. In some cases, it might make more sense to melt down the candle entirely and transfer it to a clean vessel with a new wick.

Find Your Scents of Purpose with LAFCO


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Quality ingredients and skilled craftsmanship are the key to a great candle. If you’re ready to ditch your drugstore candles and experience the aromatic luxury LAFCO has to offer, you can’t go wrong with one of the six classic fragrances.

  • Celery Thyme – Featuring fresh notes of celery seed, crushed thyme, and purple basil, this fragrance has a clean, herbal aroma.
  • Marine – Breathe fresh air into your home with this breezy combination of floral and ocean botanical notes.
  • Feu de Bois – An all-time favorite, this fragrance harnesses the warmth of burning wood and the depth of leather accord.
  • Rosemary Eucalyptus – Fresh rosemary oils bring mental clarity while eucalyptus provides mental energy in this uplifting and invigorating fragrance.
  • Redwood – Warm and woody, this fragrance features notes of California redwood and Virginia cedarwood accented with hints of spiced clove and mossy fern.
  • Chamomile Lavender – Another LAFCO classic, this fragrance evokes a sense of tranquility with notes of soothing lavender and warm chamomile.

Enjoy a clean, long-lasting burn with evenly dispersed fragrance each time you light your LAFCO candle. If you’re not quite ready to make the commitment to a full-sized product, you can sample three fragrances for just $16 (plus free shipping) with the Discovery Trio.

Choose from over 30 fragrance options and compare them side-by-side with your drugstore candle collection to see just how much difference quality materials, pure fragrance, and skilled craftsmanship make when it comes to creating a luxurious aromatic experience.

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