Candle tunneling is a common but preventable problem that occurs if you’re not careful when burning a candle. Tunneling happens when only a small portion of the wax around the wick melts while the candle is burning, creating a vertical tunnel with the wax directly underneath the flame quickly melting into liquid while the surrounding wax remains hard. This causes the tunneling to become worse over time, drastically reducing the total burn time of your candle and wasting the luxurious fragrances contained within.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the causes behind candle tunneling and provide step-by-step instructions on how to fix it.
What Does “Candle Tunneling” Mean?
Tunneling happens when only a small portion of the wax around the wick melts while the candle is burning. Instead of having the entire surface of the wax melt evenly, it will appear as though the flame is burrowing into the candle and creating what resembles a small, vertical tunnel — hence the name. Inside the tunnel, the wax directly underneath the flame quickly melts into liquid while the surrounding wax remains hard. This causes the tunneling to become worse over time. Once the wick descends deeper into the surrounding wax, the flame won’t be able to get enough oxygen to sustain itself, causing the candle to go out. But the problem doesn’t stop there. Tunneling is bad because it can drastically reduce the total burn time of your candle.
Why Does Tunneling Happen?
People sometimes mistake tunneling as an issue of candle quality. It’s true that tunneling is more likely to occur in cheap candles compared to higher quality luxury candles. However, the truth is that tunneling can happen to ANY candle — even the most expensive ones.
There are two main causes of candle tunneling:
- Poor candle burning habits
- Improperly sized wicks
In this context, poor candle burning habits refers specifically to the "first burn," or the first time you burn the candle. At the Harlem Candle Company, we always emphasize how important it is to burn the candle long enough to let the entire surface of the candle melt before blowing or snuffing it out. This usually takes at least an hour or two, depending on the size of the candle. If you don’t do this,.