How to Prevent Candle Tunneling

How to Prevent Candle Tunneling

Candles don’t last forever but that doesn't mean you can't extend the lifespan of your favorite candle by following the right candle care tips. One simple tip is to learn how to prevent candle tunneling. This useful guide will help to prevent your highly scented candles from tunneling and, if they do, what you can do to fix it.


What is candle tunneling? How does it happen?

Candle tunneling occurs when only the center of the wax right around the wick melts and burns down. If candle tunneling occurs over time, you’ll end up with a ring of hard wax around the outside of the candle along the edge of the container. Candle tunneling can occur in any candle, regardless of the quality or type of wax. Most often tunneling is caused by the timing of the first burn. Sometimes, candle tunneling is caused by a wick that isn’t large enough for the size of the candle. 

tunneling candle

How to Prevent Candle Tunneling

The first burn is very important and is critical in preventing tunneling.  Did you know that wax has memory?! Because wax has memory, the first burn sets the radius of how the candle melts. If you create a tunnel on the first burn, the next time you light the candle, it will melt the wax in the tunnel first, making it deeper and continuing to leave unmelted wax around the edges. That’s why it’s so important to completely melt the first layer of wax on the first burn before blowing out the candle.

For the first burn, place the candle in a draft-free area to ensure that it will burn evenly. After lighting it, check it every 30 minutes or so to make sure that the first layer of wax has completely melted—the deeper the layer, the better. The amount of time this will take will vary depending on the type of wax and the size of the candle and the wick. As a general rule, it takes about one hour of burn time for each inch of the candle’s diameter. However, this is only a guideline, and you should continue to check on the candle and blow it out only when the first layer of wax has completely melted.

How to Fix Candle Tunneling

If your candle has already started to tunnel, don’t worry just yet. You may be able to save it. If the tunneling is mild, you can heat the top of the candle with a hairdryer. The hot air will melt and smooth the wax, making it more level. Then the next time you burn the candle, follow the instructions for the first burn and melt the entire first layer of wax so it doesn’t happen again.

If the tunneling is very bad and the hairdryer doesn’t work, you can also try the oven. Heat the oven to 175℉, place the candle on a cookie sheet and pop the candle in the oven for about three to five minutes. You might need less time for a smaller candle or more time for a larger one. Turn on the oven light so you can keep an eye on the candle and make sure that it doesn’t get too hot. 

In some cases, the candle tunneling might be too extreme to rescue your candle. While this may be disappointing, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy your candle. Instead, you can get an electric candle warmer, which warms the wax in the bottom of container candles. Even if your candle tunneling is to the point that you can no longer light the wick, a candle warmer will still heat the existing wax enough to release its scent.


Buying high quality soy candles is one way to prevent candle tunneling. Shop our entire collection of candles that boost overall happiness! 

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