The Lost Art of Burning Candles Properly
Many people buy candles, light them, and that's it. But if you go to the trouble of making your own candles, you should learn the principles of burning them correctly to get the best effects from your work.
A well-made candle burns evenly with a smokeless flame if you follow these basic rules:
Your handmade candle should be a day old before use.
Do not burn your candles in a draft or breeze.
Before lighting the candle, trim the wick to ½″.
Bear in mind that even the best-made candles can drip. The best way to avoid dripping is to keep the burning candle out of drafts and to keep the wick trimmed. Observe the flame. If it flickers, there is a draft affecting it. The flame should be absolutely still and shaped like a teardrop.
If candle wax drips on your tablecloth, here's what to do: rub the cloth between your hands until most wax flakes fall off (do this over a covered surface or in the yard). Then iron the cloth between several sheets of paper toweling or brown craft paper, which will absorb the melted wax.
To avoid candle wax dripping on your table or table cloth, use decorative mats or leaves — banana leaves work well — to prevent a mess. Alternatively, place candles on plates or in shallow bowls, or on hard nonflammable and washable surfaces, such as a cutting board. Add decorations.
Observe your burning candles to determine their combustion qualities. A well-made candle will have a 1–2″ flame that burns steadily and does not flicker. A good performing wick will bend 90° or remain straight. The melted wax should pool around the wick without spilling or guttering the wick.
If you have a smoking candle, that is a signal that the candle is not getting enough oxygen to feed its flame. The fire in the fireplace needs a proper supply of oxygen, and so does a candle.
Don't burn candles without adequate ventilation, such as in a small, closed room. Not only will the candle fail to receive sufficient oxygen, but you will use up oxygen that you need to breathe. This is important for asthma sufferers or those with chronic respiratory conditions.