What is Candle Tunneling & How to Avoid Candle Tunneling: A Complete Guide

Candle tunneling can be a frustrating experience for candle enthusiasts. Tunneling occurs when a candle wick consumes too much fuel (wax+fragrance) too quickly. Instead of a slowly forming, wide melt pool that extends to the edges of a container, a narrow melt pool forms in the center and burns down quickly, leaving a large amount of wax on the sides of the container.

However, with a few simple tips and tricks, you can prevent and fix candle tunneling, ensuring a longer, more enjoyable burning experience.

What Causes Candle Tunneling?

Understanding the causes of candle tunneling is the first step towards preventing it. Several factors contribute to this phenomenon:

  1. Improper Initial Burn: The first time you light a candle, it is essential to allow it to burn long enough for the wax to melt to the sides of the container. If the initial burn is too short, the candle will only create a small melt pool, leading to tunneling in subsequent burns.
  2. Wick Placement: An improperly placed wick can also cause tunneling. If the wick is too close to the edge of the container, it may not catch all the wax, resulting in uneven candle burning.
  3. Drafts or Uneven Heat: Drafts and uneven heat sources can cause the candle to burn unevenly, creating a tunnel down the center.

Tips to Avoid Candle Tunneling

  1. Trim the Wick: Before each burn, make sure to trim the wick to approximately ¼ inch. A longer wick can cause a larger flame, leading to uneven burning and tunneling. Trimming the wick will ensure a steady and even burn.
  2. Initial Burn: When lighting a new candle for the first time, allow it to burn for at least one to two hours or until the melt pool reaches the edges of the container. This will help prevent tunneling in subsequent burns.
  3. Avoid Drafts: Place candles away from drafts, as they can cause uneven heat distribution and result in tunneling. Keep windows and doors closed, and avoid placing candles near fans or air vents.
  4. Rotate the Candle: To ensure even burning, rotate the candle periodically. This will help distribute the heat and prevent tunneling.

Fixing Candle Tunneling

If you're faced with a candle that has already tunnelled, all hope is not lost. You can still salvage it using the following steps:

  1. The Aluminum Foil Method: Tear off a small piece of aluminum foil and fold it lengthwise. Wrap the foil around the top edge of the candle, leaving a small hole in the center for the wick. This will help retain the heat and force the wax to melt towards the sides, effectively fixing the tunneling issue.
  2. Trim the Excess Wax: If the tunneling is not severe, you can use a butter knife to gently scrape away the excess wax from the sides of the container. This will encourage the candle to burn more evenly in future burns.


By following these simple tips, you can avoid tunneling altogether or fix a candle that has already tunnelled. Remember to always practice candle safety, never leave a burning candle unattended, and place them on heat-resistant surfaces. With proper care and attention, you can ensure a longer and more enjoyable candle-burning experience.

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