The soft light of a flickering candle brings warmth to any space. Paired with the perfect fragrance, a subtle flame comforts the soul and turns any house into a home.
A gentle flame is soothing, but an unusually tall flame can be distracting. Even worse, a tall flame might mean that your candle is burning out more quickly than it should.
In this guide, we’ll talk about what causes a candle flame to burn too high and what you can do to make your candle last.
How High Should the Flame Be?
Candles come in a wide range of different sizes from small 2-ounce votives to large multi-wick candles. The larger the candle, the more wicks you need to melt the wax evenly and to ensure proper distribution of fragrance. The number of wicks doesn’t affect the height of the flame. The size of the candle, however, might.
For most candles, the ideal flame size is between ½ inch and 1 inch from the arc of the flame to its tip. This applies to votives and travel candles as well as small container candles up to 16 ounces. Pillar candles and taper candles may have flames that reach up to 2 inches in height. For large, multi-wick container candles, it’s important to focus on achieving an even burn rather than getting distracted by the height of the flame.
For reference, the American Society for Testing and Materials places the maximum allowable flame height for indoor candles at 3 inches. Anything higher could become a fire hazard.
If you’re not sure whether your candle flame is too high, take a closer look. Is the flame flickering a lot? Is the candle smoking? These are signs that the flame is probably too high, and you should extinguish it, let the candle cool, and trim the wick.
Why Is a Tall Flame a Problem?
When your candle flame burns too high it affects the experience, but it also affects the candle itself. A tall flame means your candle is burning too hot – the wax is being absorbed more quickly than it can be burned. This results in a shorter lifespan for your candle and may also lead to issues with smoke, soot, and tunneling. Proper flame height is the key to maximizing your candle’s burn time.
The second problem with tall flames is that they can become fire hazards. Any candle can be a fire hazard if placed too close to flammable objects like curtains or decorations. The higher the flame, however, the more distance you need between the candle and those objects to maintain safety. It’s generally best to keep a 1-foot area around the candle clear.
Another risk to consider applies primarily to inexpensive candles. Cheap glass candles can overheat if the flame burns too hot and too high – it could even fracture the glass.
How Do You Solve the Problem?
While a high candle flame can certainly be problematic, it’s a problem that’s easy to fix. In most cases, a tall flame is related to a long wick. The simplest solution is to trim the wick with the proper wick trimmer.
After the first burn, it’s wise to always trim the wick down to just ¼ inch above the solid wax. Keeping the wick trimmed helps ensure a clean burn, allowing the top layer of wax to melt evenly. When the wick is too long, it can cause the wax around the wick to melt more quickly than the surrounding wax, creating a tunneling effect.
Trimming your candle wick helps control the amount of fuel being burned. A candle wick works through capillary action, pulling melted wax upward into the flame where it burns. If the wick is too long, too much wax ends up being pulled upward and the candle overheats. Not only does trimming the candle wick increase the lifespan of your candle, but it helps minimize smoke and soot.
If you keep the wick trimmed but your candle flame is still too high, it may have something to do with the materials themselves. High, smoky flames are a trademark of cheap candles that use poor materials (such as fragrance oils or other additives).
All LAFCO candles are crafted with solid soy wax and pure essential oil-based fragrance. Each candle is presented in an artisanal hand blown glass vessel with a 100% cotton wick. Choose from a generous variety of fragrances or use the Discovery Trio to sample your top three.