I know the story. You’ve been spending more time at home, so you decided to treat yourself to the new candle you’ve been eyeing online. Maybe you even splurged on beeswax, you waited carefully for it to arrive, and carefully placed it in your favourite candle holder then, when the moment was just right, you lit it. You enjoyed the calming glow for a while, maybe savouring a glass of wine or diving into your latest pick from the local library, turned your back for two seconds and bam! It dripped wax all down the sides and made a mess, so what went wrong??
There are several things that can cause candles to drip including drafts, or a wick that is too long (or too short!). Once a candle starts dripping it can be difficult to correct, but don’t despair, with a little effort it can usually be saved.
Drafts & Air Movement
Sources of drafts and air movement aren’t always obvious, but they do have the potential to wreak havoc on your pleasant burning experience. Things like baseboard heaters, ceiling fans, air circulation systems, open doors or windows and even just people moving around a space, can all cause enough air movement to cause a candle to drip.
If you live in a situation where drafts are unavoidable you still have options. Candlesticks are particularly vulnerable to dripping due to air movement but Pillars, Votives, and Tealights are all much more resistant to drafts. A flickering flame is a good indication that there is a draft present, always remember – a steady flame is a happy flame!
Flickering flames and dripping can also be caused by wick that is too long. About ½ an inch is the ideal length for a candlestick wick. Most candles these days are made with “self trimming” wick but you still may need to correct it occasionally especially if you notice carbon build up which looks like a black clump of soot forming on the tip of the wick.
Be careful not to trim your wick too short! It’s counter intuitive but a wick that is too short can also cause dripping. A short wick means a small flame and the wax pool is the fuel source for the flame. If the size of the flame isn’t large enough to consume the fuel as it melts it builds up and spills over the edge. When candlesticks are extinguished their wicks become particularly brittle and can be vulnerable to breaking so make sure you handle candles that are partially used carefully in order to protect those wicks.
How to correct dripping candles
If your candle drips due to air movement or incorrect wick length you can likely correct it if you catch it early. Extinguish the candle and use a small amount of the spilled wax to create a tiny dam and block the channel where the wax is spilling out. Eliminate drafts and relight the candle, watch it carefully and extinguish it if it looks like it’s likely to drip again. If the dripping is due to a wick that is too short, it may help to pour some of the melted wax carefully off the top to increase the wick length.
Photography - Fowler Photography @kfowlerphotography
Florals - Olea Floral @oleaflora