Candles tunnel-burn if the candlewick is too small. Candles tunnel-burn when the first burn is for a short period, you need to make sure the first burn is at least 3-4 hours. You can fix tunnel-burning in candles by wrapping Aluminium foil around the top, leaving the wick open. You can also fix tunneling by using a heat gun.
Tunnel-burning is a common but serious issue. Try to fix it as soon as you identify the problem. The more you delay the harder it is to fix it.
In this article, you’ll learn what candle tunneling is and what causes it. You’ll also learn the ways to prevent and fix tunnel-burning in candles.
What is Candle Tunneling?
‘Tunneling’ happens when only a small portion of the wax around the candlewick melts while the rest of the candle remains solid.
It appears as though the candlewick is burrowing into the candle. The wax inside this ‘tunnel’ is liquid while the surrounding part is solid.
Once the wick goes deeper into this tunnel, the wick doesn’t get enough Oxygen causing the candle to go off.
‘Tunneling’ can happen with expensive as well as cheaper candles. It depends on various factors along with the quality of the candle.
What causes tunneling in candles?
Tunneling in candles happens when the candlewick is improperly sized. Candle tunneling can also happen due to poor candle-burning habits.
Improperly sized wicks
If the candlewick size is too small, the heat generated won’t be sufficient to burn the candle evenly. So, even if you burn the candle long enough the first time, the candle still tunnels.
This usually happens with candles that are cheaper. Mass-produced candles often come with wicks that are smaller than needed.
Expensive candle-makers make sure that the wick size is appropriate for the candle.
Poor candle burning habits
The first burn of a candle is crucial. If you blow off the candle before the top layer of the candle burns evenly, it might lead to tunneling.
Burn a new candle only if you’ve got enough time. Let the candle burn for 3-4 hours so that the top layer burns off evenly.
Failure to do this leads to ‘tunneling’. This is because of the memory a candle has. A candle creates a ‘memory ring’ the first time it burns.
The wax only melts in this part of the candle the next time it is lit. So, it is crucial to get it right the first time.
Explanation: Wax isn’t always as ‘hard’ as it seems to be. Once melted, wax takes some time to become completely ‘solid’.
So, if only a part of the candle melts the first time, only that part acts as an individual candle the next time you light up the candle.
The surrounding part is harder than the center part, leading to tunneling.
How to avoid Candle Tunneling?
You can avoid tunnel burning in your candles by making sure the first burn is at least 3-4 hours. You need to also use wicks of proper length in your candles.
Burn the candle consciously
Burn the candle long enough to prevent ‘memory ring’ formation around the wick. Don’t burn your candle unevenly.
The first burn of any candle is crucial. Make sure you burn the candle for 3-4 hours the first time to prevent tunneling.
Not only the initial burn, but every burn should also last for a couple of hours. This is crucial if you want the candle to burn properly.
Let the candle cool for an hour or two after snuffing. You need to rekindle the candle only after this waiting period.
Tip: A rule of thumb is to burn your candle for one hour per every inch of its diameter.
Use the right wick size
As a candlemaker, you need to make sure the wick you put in the candle is of the right size. Nobody wants candles that tunnel burn.
If your candles tunnel-burn constantly, it might be a good idea to increase the length of the wick. Don’t forget to burn test your candles.
Candle Tunneling Hair Dryer Trick
If the tunneling burn has just begun, you can use the Hair Dryer trick to level the surface. If you’ve identified tunneling at this stage, you’re lucky!
You can level the surface of the candle by using a Hairdryer. Put the Hairdryer on high heat and blast the top of the candle with it.
Set the Hairdryer to the lowest blow setting to prevent splashing the wax. After a while, the hardened wax will soften and then melt.
You can also do the same using a heat gun. Melt the surrounding wax until it’s within the reach of the candlewick.
How to fix Candle Tunneling with foil?
The Aluminum foil method is useful when a tunnel forms a few millimeters below the surrounding wax.
You’ll be transferring the heat from the top of the candle to the sides of it. By doing this you’ll melt the surrounding wax hopefully.
Wrap an Aluminum foil around the lit candle with an opening at the top. The opening should surround the candlewick. Be careful while you do this.
In an hour or two, the heat should pass to the edges of the candle. The candle will now be reset. Use an oven mitt when removing the foil, it’ll be quite hot.
Don’t keep the foil on the candle for hours, it’d stain the candle jar. The candle jar could eventually break if it becomes too hot.
How to fix Candle Tunneling without foil?
You can use a heat gun or hairdryer to fix a tunneling candle. You can also put the candle in a microwave to fix tunneling.
How to fix Candle Tunneling using a Microwave?
If the tunnel is clearly visible, you may want to put the candle in a Microwave to level off the top.
Heat the oven to 175F, place a cookie sheet in the oven, and put the candle on that sheet. Keep the candle in the oven for 2 minutes.
Let the candle warm up until the top layer melts properly. Make sure the candle doesn’t get too warm. You don’t want the container to explode.
I don’t advise people to do this at home as some candles come with metal wicks. It’s dangerous to put such candles in an oven.
Cover with a Candle Topper
Candle Toppers are metallic, open lids that come with intricate designs. They help protect the flame from drafts.
Candles covered by Toppers burn evenly as there’s no disturbance of drafts. Candle Toppers work on large candles with a single wick.
Why is my Candle Tunneling on the first burn?
The candles tunnel-burn on the very first burn if the wick is too small. Such a small wick’s flame doesn’t generate enough heat to burn the whole surface of the candle.
Even if you burn the candle for hours the first time, it’ll still tunnel-burn if the candlewick is too small.
You need to avoid candle tunneling if you want to increase the burn time of your candle. Candle tunneling leads to a lot of waste.
Cheaper candles are more prone to tunneling than expensive ones.
How do you fix short wick tunneling candles?
Below are a few ways to fix short wick tunnel burning candles. You might fix the issue if you follow at least a couple of them.
- Make sure the first burn is at least 3-4 hours to prevent ‘memory ring’ formation.
- Soak up the molten wax using a paper towel and rekindle the candle. See if it’s burning properly. If the candle melts the top layer properly, the problem is fixed. Repeat till you get the desired result.
- Melt the wax around the wax carefully, once it’s melted lift the wick up using a pair of tweezers.
Pillar Candle Tunneling
Tunneling can also be seen in pillar candles. Tunneling is seen in pillar candles when the first burn is not done properly. This could also happen if the wick is too small.
Below are a few ways to fix tunneling in pillar candles, if one method doesn’t work try another.
- Place a napkin on the table. Put your candle horizontally on the napkin. Use a lighter to burn the wax on the periphery. Throw away the wax on the napkin. Rekindle the candle and see if the issue is fixed.
- Cut out the wax in the periphery using a butter knife to fix a tunneled pillar candle. Rekindle the candle.
- Hug the edges of the candle. After the end of each burn, tuck in the edges of the candle. This helps prevent tunnel burning.
Why do Beeswax candles tunnel?
Beeswax candles tunnel burn when they’re not burned properly the first time. One needs to burn a candle for 3-4 hours the first time to prevent a smaller memory ring formation
Pour the Coconut oil and Beeswax into a container and let them sit for a couple of days before using the wax to make candles.
Beeswax candles also tunnel burn when the wick is too small. If you’re making Beeswax candles, make sure the wick is long enough.
How do you keep beeswax candles from tunneling?
Add some coconut oil to your Beeswax candles to prevent them from tunneling. Coconut oil helps the candle burn consistently.
Hugging your Beeswax candle while it’s burning helps prevent tunneling. Burn the candle for at least 2-3 hours each time you light it up.
Will Candle Tunneling fix itself?
No, most of the time a tunnel-burning candle doesn’t fix the issue by itself. Such a candle needs a helping hand.
A ring of solid wax forms around the molten wax pool, you need to fix this issue as soon as possible.
You can fix such candles by using the Aluminium foil method described above. You can also use a heat gun to fix such candles.
You can also fix slightly-tunneled candles by hugging them. This is a process where you push the wax on the outer ring toward the center.
Act quickly and consciously as soon as you identify that you have a tunneling problem.
Happy Molding 🙂