How to Prevent & Fix Candle Tunneling

How to Fix Candle Tunneling

Are you a candle aficionado who is tired of dealing with tunneling, wasted wax, and reduced burn time? Don’t worry, there’s good news: you can prevent and fix candle tunneling. Candle tunneling occurs when only the middle part of the candle wax melts, leaving a ring of hard wax around the edges. This not only shortens the life of your candle but also affects its fragrance throw. Lucky for you, there are effective ways to get the most out of your candles by using tools like a heat gun or aluminum foil, and practices like the “first burn rule.” So, make candle tunneling a thing of the past and maximize the life and scent of your favorite candles.

How to Fix Candle Tunneling: Key Takeaways

  • Prevent & fix candle tunneling with proper wick size, wax memory, and burning habits.
  • Establish wax memory for optimal experience, trim and maintain the wick, and buy quality candles.
  • Follow burn time recommendations, create a draft-free environment & cool/store correctly to maximize the lifespan of candles.

Understanding Candle Tunneling

Candle tunneling can be a frustrating issue for those who love to burn candles, but it doesn’t have to be a persistent problem with your candles. By understanding the causes of tunneling and implementing the proper care techniques, you can prevent and fix candle tunneling, allowing your candles to burn evenly and efficiently.

Let’s take a closer look at what causes tunneling and how it affects your favorite candles.

Defining Candle Tunneling

Candle tunneling is a phenomenon where a candle burns down in a tunnel-like shape, which causes the wax around the edges to not melt and makes the wick burn faster. While it may seem mesmerizing, tunneling can lead to wasted unmelted wax and reduced burn time as the surrounding wax remains hard and unburned in the candle jar.

Preventing tunneling is essential to maintaining the burn quality and maximizing the candle’s burn time, ultimately reducing wax wastage. The key to preventing tunneling lies in understanding its causes and ensuring proper care and maintenance for your candles.

Common Causes of Wax Tunneling

Tunneling can be caused by various factors, including incorrect wick size, poor wax memory, and suboptimal burning habits.

When a candle is burned incorrectly, the liquid wax pool won’t reach the edges of the container, and as it hardens and melts, this can cause tunneling.

Having good wax memory can help prevent tunneling, as the wax will melt evenly and not just down the center of the candle. Positive burning habits, such as allowing the candle to burn long enough during the first use or using a heat gun to fix mild tunneling, can prevent tunneling and ensure a beautiful, even burn.

Tips to Prevent Candle Tunneling

Now that we understand the causes of tunneling, it’s time to discuss the tips and tricks to prevent it. By establishing proper wax memory, maintaining the wick, and choosing quality candles, you can enjoy your candles to the fullest without worrying about tunneling issues.

Establishing proper wax memory is the first step in preventing tunneling. This involves burning the candle for a proper length of time on first burn.

Establishing Proper Wax Memory

Wax memory is a fascinating concept that refers to how a candle burns and the wax melts after it is lit for the first time, creating a wax pattern or ‘memory’ for subsequent burns. The first burn of a candle is crucial in setting the foundation for how the candle will melt, as wax has memory. To establish good wax memory and prevent tunneling, burn your new candle for at least 3 to 4 hours for the first few burns, ensuring that the wax melts all the way to the edge of the candle.

If tunneling still occurs, you can try the aluminum foil trick to fix it. This involves wrapping the candle in aluminum foil and then burning it for a few hours. The aluminum foil acts as an insulator that changes the dispersion of heat, which will help the wax melt evenly.

Wick Trimming & Maintenance

Wick trimming and maintenance play a significant role in preventing tunneling and ensuring an enjoyable candle-burning experience. To keep the wick at a proper height, make sure it is properly trimmed to 1/4” in length, which will ensure the best performance and an efficient burn.

Regular wick trimming will help you maintain a proper wick length and prevent excess wax buildup, which can lead to tunneling. By taking good care of your wick, you can maximize your burn time and get the most out of your favorite candles.

Choosing Quality Candles

Selecting quality candles made with appropriate candle wick sizes and candle wax types is crucial in reducing the risk of tunneling. A well-crafted candle with the right wick size and wax type for the container size will ensure that melted wax is evenly distributed, preventing tunneling and promoting an even burn.

Quality candles boast a perfectly proportioned wick size to the diameter of the candle, ensuring that candles burn evenly, resulting in a soothing, tranquil flame. By investing in quality candles, you can enjoy a beautiful, even burn without the worry of tunneling.

Effective Methods to Fix Candle Tunneling

If you find yourself dealing with a tunneled candle, don’t fret! There are several effective methods to fix candle tunneling, such as using a hair dryer, the aluminum foil technique, or the oven melting method.

Let’s explore these solutions in more detail.

The Hair Dryer Solution

The hair dryer solution is an excellent method for fixing mild tunneling. By safely using a hair dryer on a low setting, you can gently heat the surface of the candle and ensure the wax melts evenly, leveling out any unevenness and fixing mild tunneling. This method is quick and easy, requiring only a few minutes to achieve a smooth, even surface.

Just be cautious not to provide enough heat to overheat the candle, as excessive heat can cause the wick to bend or become damaged.

Aluminum Foil Technique

The aluminum foil technique is another effective method for fixing tunneling and ensuring an even burn. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Wrap aluminum foil around the candle, creating a tent that reflects heat and melts the wax around the edges.
  2. Light the candle and let it burn for a couple of hours until the wax has melted evenly across the entire surface.
  3. Once the top layer of wax has melted, carefully remove the foil using an oven mitt or tongs, as it will be hot.

By using this technique, you can repair candle tunneling and get the most out of your candles while avoiding future tunneling issues.

Oven Melting Method

The oven melting method is another useful technique to fix candle tunneling and ensure a smooth, perfect surface. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Preheat your oven to 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place the candle in the oven and let it melt for about five minutes.
  3. The low temperature will gently melt the wax evenly, fixing tunneling without damaging the wick.

After removing the candle from the oven using oven mitts, allow it to cool and solidify before relighting. This method can help you salvage tunneled candles and enjoy them to the fullest.

Additional Candle Care Tips

In addition to the tips and methods discussed above, there are a few more candle care practices that can help you enjoy your candles for longer while preventing and fixing tunneling. Let’s delve into some extra advice on burn time recommendations, the importance of a draft-free environment, and proper cooling and storage.

Burn Time Recommendations

To ensure even wax melting and prevent tunneling, it’s essential to burn candles for the right amount of time. As a general rule, burn candles for at least one hour per inch of diameter. For smaller votive candles, aim for a burn time of 7 to 9 hours for each ounce of wax.

Larger candles with long wicks should be enjoyed for four to six hours at a time for optimal results. By following these burn time recommendations, you can help prevent tunneling and extend the life of your candles.

Draft-Free Environment

Burning candles in a draft-free environment is crucial for promoting even burning and reducing the risk of tunneling. Drafts can cause the flame to flicker and waver, resulting in uneven wax melting and potential tunneling issues. To create a comfortable, draft-free environment, keep the area free of open windows and doors, and avoid placing candles near fans, air vents, or other sources of air movement.

By ensuring a steady, stable flame, you can enjoy a beautiful, even burn without the worry of tunneling.

Cooling & Storage

Proper cooling and storage of your candles can significantly impact their lifespan and help prevent tunneling issues. It is important to keep candles away from direct sunlight and drafts, as doing so prevents the wax from softening or melting unevenly. Additionally, cover your candles when not in use to keep out dust and debris.

By cooling and storing your candles properly, you can prolong their lifespan, enjoy a beautiful, even burn, and keep tunneling at bay.


In conclusion, preventing and fixing candle tunneling is achievable with proper care, maintenance, and a little know-how. By understanding the causes of tunneling, establishing proper wax memory, maintaining the wick, choosing quality candles, and employing effective fixing methods, you can enjoy your candles to the fullest without the worry of tunneling. So, go ahead and light up your favorite candles, knowing that you have the tools and knowledge to keep them burning bright and beautiful for hours on end.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you stop a candle from tunneling?

To stop a candle from tunneling, make sure to burn it in a warm and draft-free environment and trim the wick to no more than 1/4” before lighting.

Consider buying multiple-wick candles and poke a hole in aluminum foil to help hold in enough heat to melt the entire surface of the wax.

Why are my candles tunneling?

Your candles may be tunneling due to the wick size or thickness not generating enough heat when lit. This means that the entire surface of the candle is not melting, leading to a hole in the middle where more wax has melted.

How do I make sure my candle burns evenly?

To ensure your candle burns evenly, rotate it regularly while burning and place it on a level surface. Trim the wick before lighting, use multi-wick candles and long matches or a lighter. Melt the wax fully across, and consider using a foil to melt any tunneling. Additionally, avoid drafts and only burn for up to 4 hours maximum.

Can you put a candle in the oven to fix tunneling?

You can rescue a slightly tunneled candle with this clever kitchen hack – just put it in the oven set to 175°F for five minutes. This will help ensure your candle burns evenly, and you’ll get plenty of use out of it.

How can I create a draft-free environment for burning candles?

Creating a draft-free environment is easy, simply close all windows and doors and stay away from fans and air vents! Candle burning will be much more enjoyable without air movement to hamper the quality of your candle-burning experience.