Candle Care 101: How To Trim Candle Wicks the Right Way

When it comes to enjoying luxury candles, the secret that separates a mediocre candle-burning experience from an amazing one isn't inside the wax. Actually, it's very simple – trimming your wick!

In this article, we’ll discuss why it's so important to trim candle wicks and how to trim them the right way so that your candles burn longer and more cleanly.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO TRIM CANDLE WICKS

Trimming your candle wicks regularly helps to ensure a clean and even burn, and allows you to enjoy the beauty and fragrance of your favorite candle for a long time. 

There are 3 main reasons why trimming your wick is such an essential part of proper candle care:

1. It increases the lifespan of your candle.

As a candle burns, cotton and wood wicks start to split and the burnt pieces may break off into the wax, forming debris near the base of the wick. If left alone, the debris can be picked up by the flame and cause your candle to burn hotter and faster than it was designed to. Proper wick trimming prevents this type of debris from forming, making your candles last up to 25% longer.

2. It prevents smoke and soot.

If you don’t trim your candle wicks regularly, your candle is more likely to create larger flames that produce excess amounts of smoke and soot. There are few things worse than spending an evening trying to wipe off those persistent black stains on your candle jars and walls as a result of soot buildup. 

3. It helps you avoid candle tunneling.

Candle tunneling is the manifestation of poor candle care. What happens is that only a small portion of the wax around the wick melts as your candle burns, rather than having the entire surface melt evenly, creating a narrow, vertical tunnel in the center of your candle. This can be caused by a flame that's burning too hot as a result of an untrimmed wick.

For these reasons, we highly recommend getting into the habit of trimming your candle wicks — especially if you're someone who appreciates and enjoys luxurious, high-quality candles.

Luckily, the beautiful thing about wick trimming is that it only takes about 5 seconds to complete. It's one of those simple tasks that's easy to commit to and can save you time and money in the long run. 

How To Trim Candle Wicks Properly

For an optimal candle-burning experience, we recommend trimming your wick at least every 4 hours of burn time. In other words, if you like to burn your candles for long periods of time, set a timer for 4 hours to remind you to trim your candle wicks.

Here's how to properly trim a candle wick:

  1. Extinguish the flame and let the candle cool down to room temperature.
  2. Using a wick trimmer or other cutting tool, bring the blades towards the wick as parallel to the wax as possible.
  3. Trim the wick to a height of ¼ inches above the wax. 
  4. While cutting, allow the blades to catch the wick debris to prevent it from falling into the wax. Wick trimmers have special tray-shaped blades designed for this purpose.
  5. Discard the excess soot and debris into a waste bin.

Remember, proper candle care requires a regular and consistent trimming routine!

Get into the habit of trimming candles before each burn to help maintain good flame hygiene. When you trim the wick before the candle is lit, the wax will still be in its solid form, which makes the trimming process much easier.

Keep an eye out for "mushrooming". That's when you see a clump of sooty carbon buildup (which usually has a mushroom shape to it) that forms on the top of the wick as it burns. Whenever you see signs of a mushrooming wick, that means it's a good time to extinguish the flame and trim off the unsightly mushroom cap.

Best Tools for Trimming Wicks

1. Wick Trimmers

We highly recommend getting a wick trimmer, which makes cutting candle wicks elegant and effortless. This must-have candle accessory has specially-designed blades shaped like little plates to catch the wick debris after you cut it. It's definitely the easiest and cleanest way to trim your wick. 

2. Scissors

If you don’t have a wick trimmer on hand, scissors are the next best option. They can work well for cotton wicks, but it might be difficult to cut through wooden wicks. Scissors are also not as clean as wick trimmers, as the burnt parts of the wick will fall into your wax once you cut them off. 

3. Nail Clippers

Nail clippers are a nifty DIY option for trimming candles, especially when you're traveling. They work surprisingly well for both cotton and wooden wicks. Use toenail clippers if you can, since the wide, straight shape of a toenail clipper will give you more control than the curved shape of a fingernail clipper. 

What if You Trimmed Your Wick Too Short?

If you accidentally trimmed the wick way too short (making it difficult to light), use a heat gun or hair dryer to melt the wax around the candle wick. Then, pour out the excess wax in order to expose more of the wick. 

Allow the candle to cool down to room temperature, then try lighting it again. If you're able to light the wick, let it burn for at least 20 minutes before extinguishing it. 

If you're still unable to light the wick, repeat the process of melting and removing wax until the wick is between ⅛ to ¼ of an inch above the surface.

For more help, read our article about how to fix a candle wick that's buried or too short.