Guest Author - Robin Rounds Whittemore
Candles are meant to be enjoyed, and their presence should be savored. Burning candles may be a common pleasure, but safety is something that needs to be taken into consideration, also. When the warnings say keep the wicks trimmed, and never leave a burning candle unattended, they mean it.
When you purchase a candle, it is always recommended to keep your candle wick trimmed to 1/8” or ¼” (one eighth or quarter of an inch). You have seen the warnings, suggestions, hints, etc on the labels or in books. Do you know why it is recommended?
If you have ever seen a wick with a mushroom shape, it usually means the wick was too long. Carbon deposits develop on the wick and it causes the mushroom shape. It means that the candle has absorbed –or consumed – wax faster than the flame can burn it off.
A trimmed wick should eliminate black soot on the sides of a jar candle. A wick that is too long can also cause uneven burning. Another cause of the black soot is by extinguishing a jar candle with the lid.
When your wick doesn’t stay lit, make sure it is not too short. If the wick is too short, when the candle is unlit, you can remove some of the wax from around the wick.
Another cause of a wick not staying lit may be a draft. Check to see if the candle is near an air conditioner, or an open or drafty window? Is it under a ceiling fan? Move the candle away from the draft and start it burning again.
If you have ever noticed a candle flickering often, smoking, or the flame burning too high, extinguish the candle. The first thing to do is trim the wick after the candle has had time to cool off. Check also for any drafts in the area before relighting the candle.
To avoid smoke when extinguishing a candle, push the wick into the pool of melted wax. For best results, use a wick dipper. They are specially made for such a purpose. Candle snuffers also work well for this purpose.
It is best not to use a toothpick or even a burned out match to extinguish a candle. When extinguishing a candle, remember to keep the wax pool clear of all debris, including wick trimmings, burned out matches, and any other debris.
If you leave a burning candle unattended and there is a problem with the flame or wick, no one would be there to see the results. Dancing flames are great at a bonfire, but not in a home.