When indulging in beautifully fragranced luxury candles, you might occasionally encounter a problem with the wick becoming buried or too short. If that happens, it can be hard to light (or relight) the candle.
But don’t be intimidated; we can fix this.
Candle wicks can get too short for several different reasons. Sometimes it’s an issue with the size or quality of the wick, and other times it might be because you trimmed it too short or didn’t trim it enough.
Here’s our 3-step solution for fixing any candle wick that gets too short:
- Melt it
- Dig it
- Light it
Before we jump into a detailed explanation for each step, let’s talk about some of the reasons why your candle wick might have gotten too short.
Or if you’re in a hurry to fix your wick, click here to skip to the solution.
THE Problem: Why Your Candle Wick Got Too Short
There are 2 types of causes for short candle wicks: the type that’s outside of your control and the type that’s within your control.
The first type usually has to do with how the candle was made.
- If your candle wick is drowning, that means the size of the wick might be too small for the candle container or the quality of the wick is low. This causes the wick to burn too quickly and “drown” in its own wax pool. When the surrounding wax cools and hardens again, the wick might be too short to relight or even completely buried inside.
- If your candle wick was already buried or too short when you first got it, the problem may have been caused during shipping or delivery. Especially during the summer months, candles can start to melt inside their box if they’re left too long on a porch or inside a truck on a particularly hot day. When that happens, the wick can bend or tilt into the soft wax.
- Drastic temperature changes, especially during the winter, can cause the candle wax to expand. This can also cause your wick to seem shorter, making your candle more difficult to light.
The second type of cause has to do with how the candle was burned. The good news is, not only can you fix it, but you can also prevent it from happening in the future!
- Did you forget to trim your wick? Trimming is an important part of candle care because it prevents the wick from curling and “mushrooming” as it burns. We recommend trimming it once every 3-4 hours to keep it at a good length and shape; otherwise the wick might curl up or fall into the wax pool, becoming buried.
- Did you trim your wick too short? Next time, wait until the wax has cooled and then trim the wick to a length that’s between ⅛ to ¼ of an inch.
- Did your candle tunnel? Tunneling means that only a small area of wax around the wick melts as your candle burns, creating a small hole instead of allowing the entire surface of the wax to melt evenly. As the hole gets deeper, it can get filled up with melted wax and cause your wick to get buried. Read our article about candle tunneling and how to fix it.
THE Solution: How To Fix a Candle Wick Is Buried or Too Short
Before we start, double check if you can light your wick using these tips:
- Use a long wand candle lighter or an extra long match and hold the flame directly on top of the wick for up to 30 seconds to melt some of the surrounding wax.
- Try holding the candle upside down as you light it. But don’t do this for more than 10-15 seconds because you don’t want to have wax dripping on your hand.
If you were able to light the wick, that’s great! Now just let your candle burn and enjoy it for a few hours until the wax on the surface is evenly melted again.
If not, don’t worry — a buried wick can be easily fixed with stuff you already have at home. Here’s what to do if your candle wick is too short to light.
Step 1: Melt It
The first step to fix a wick that’s too short is to soften up the surrounding wax by melting it.
To do this, you’ll need either a heat gun or blow dryer. If you don’t have either of these, a long wand candle lighter will also work — it’ll just take some more time.
Hold your heat gun or blow dryer (on high heat) over the candle wick to start melting the surrounding wax.
If your wick was buried because it’s either tilted, bent, or curled, stop heating the wax once it’s soft and move onto step 2.
If your wick was trimmed too short, keep melting the wax until you have an even layer of liquid wax on the surface before moving on to step 2.
Step 2: DIg It
The next step is to dig out the wick. The way you do this depends on if the length of the wick is too short (over-trimmed) or if the wick was buried (tilted, bent, or curled into the wax).
If your wick was buried, use a pair of tweezers or a Q-tip to nudge the wick back to an upright position, making sure it sticks out above the surface of the wax. Hold it in this position until the wax cools.
This is easier when the wax is soft but not completely melted, so if you’re having trouble just wait until the wax becomes opaque and try again.
If your wick was too short, pour out some of the wax that you melted until there’s about ⅛ to ¼ inch of wick above the surface. You can also use a paper towel to dab and soak up the excess wax to avoid potentially making a mess.
At the end of this step, let the wax cool.
Step 3: LIght It
The last step is to light your candle again and reset it’s “memory” by allowing it to evenly melt the entire top layer of wax.
We do this to even out any marks left behind when we dug out the wick in step 2. It also prevents the candle from tunneling the next time you burn it, which can cause your wick to get buried again.
This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours, depending on the size of your candle. Our general rule of thumb is to let the candle burn for 1 hour for every 1 inch of diameter.
About the Harlem Candle Company
The Harlem Candle Company makes elegant, handcrafted luxury candles with beautifully unique fragrances inspired by the richness of the Harlem Renaissance.
As fellow candle aficionados, we hope that you found this article helpful in case you ever need to salvage a buried candle wick.