Sometimes there's a lot more to burning a candle correctly than one might realize, so here are a few little tips on how to get the most out of your candle, maximize burn times, and stay safe.
First of all, be careful with candles.
Fairly self-explanatory, but this is the most important tip we can offer: don't ever leave a burning candle unattended. Fire can obviously be very dangerous, so be safe and smart with candles—make sure you extinguish them before you leave the house or go to bed.
Choose the right candle for your needs.
Different candles are suited for certain situations better than others. For instance, if you're looking for a candle to light during your 60-minute daily meditation, we recommend a votive or taper—definitely not a pillar. Why? Votives work better for shorter duration burns, tapers even more so. Pillars are thicker and therefore made to burn for longer durations; if you burn a 3" wide pillar for an hour at a time, it'll likely tunnel. Have a drafty house, or want to burn candles outside? Choose a votive or tea light and burn it in a holder or container that will protect it from the wind. Want the most illumination, maybe because you enjoy reading books by candlelight? Burn tapers – the flame is never hidden so it casts the most light.
Choose the appropriate holder for your candle.
•First of all, always use some sort of holder or base; never put a candle down directly on your table or furniture. Even tea lights, which are already contained in little cups, should be placed in holders before burning; those little aluminum cups can get quite hot and leave a burn mark on furniture.
•Pillars: These larger cylindrical candles are typically made to be free-standing, so they can be placed on most bases, or even a saucer. We suggest a concave base or one with a lip around the edge to help collect wax in the unfortunate case of a spill or blowout.
•Tapers: There are a lot of great taper holders, aka candlesticks, but not all of them have the same diameter. If our tapers are too thick for your candlestick, you can carefully shave a little wax off the base to make them fit. If a taper is a tad too narrow for your holder, you can warm the bottom of the taper with a flame, getting the wax to start melting, and then put it into the holder. The warmed wax will cool and harden and should keep the taper in place.
•Votives should be burned in a holder that is just a tad wider than the votive itself. That's because votives are made to go molten, so the wax fills up the glass. If you put a votive on a flat pillar base, you'll be cleaning up a pool of wax an hour later. Also, you'll get more light from a glass votive holder than if you put it in an opaque holder where the flame will be hidden as the candle melts down.
Don't put water in the bottom of the votive holder.
This is a classic restaurant move - to add a little bit of water to the votive holder before placing the candle in. For paraffin candles, it helps with removing the left over wax once the candle is used up. This isn't necessary with GoodLight votives and will actually negatively affect the burn quality. Because of the way the GoodLight votives are made, the water is absorbed by the wick and then the candle becomes difficult to light. Depending on how long the votive is burned and for how many sessions, there shouldn't be too much wax leftover. Loosen the leftover wax with a butter knife and it should pop right out, leaving a pretty clean votive holder.
Trim your wicks!
Trim your wicks to a quarter-inch before lighting the candle, and during longer multi-hour burns too. This is important for pillars; you rarely need to trim the wicks of our tea lights or votives. When the wick gets long on a pillar, the flame gets bigger and the long wick tends to curl over, displacing the flame from the center of the candle so that it ends up closer to one side. In which case you're more likely to burn a little hole in the wall of the pillar and cause one of those blowouts that results in a messy pool of wax. A long, curled wick on a taper may cause it to drip. Also, shorter wicks are safer. Again, keeping them to about a quarter inch is ideal. But trim it too short and you might not be able to re-light it.
Avoid drafts and stay dripless.
Many of our candles are dripless, but only if user error is avoided. Keep candles away from drafts, open windows, and fans. A draft will usually increase the size of the flame and blow the flame sideways, causing tapers to drip and pillar walls to breach. And make sure candles are set on level surfaces, and that tapers are positioned upright and not leaning in their holders.
Keep pillars from tunneling.
To avoid tunneling, the rule of thumb is to burn the pillar for an hour per inch in diameter. So you'd burn a 2" wide pillar for two hours per session, a 3" wide pillar for three hours. You can usually get away with burning it a little longer, but if you burn it for too long, you're risking a sidewall blowout and a mess to clean up.
Extinguish candles without the smoke.
•Don't like the smoke when you blow out the candle? Then use a snuffer for tapers, or, for other candles, dip the flame into the molten wax to extinguish it. You'll need a designated tool—we use an old butter knife as our official candle extinguisher at our house. Using your tool, gently push the wick over into the molten wax for a second until the flame goes out, and then guide the wick back into an upright position. That last step is important—otherwise, your wick will be buried when the wax dries.
•Also, make a habit out of extinguishing a candle before it burns all the way down in its holder. The flame can be very hot, and if the holder is glass or crystal, the heat might crack the glass, even the best crystal.