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handle with care

candlelight and christmastime go hand-in-hand in my book. what better way to add a festive touch to your home than lighting a candle and having a heady winter scent fill the air, making the space feel warm, cosy and inviting?

i started the year with a resolution to develop a regular candle lighting ritual and explore the tranquil and restorative properties of candlelight. along the way i’ve learnt a lot; not just my own personal preferences for scent families in particular rooms, or accompanying specific activities, but also about how best to care for my candles to ensure i get the most out of them.

have you ever been perplexed that your expensive new luxury candle isn’t burning as evenly as you would’ve hoped, or been aghast to discover the wick mushrooming or the flame constantly flickering? i’ve experienced all of this and more with my candle collection this past year, and in my desire to find out exactly why some of my favourite scents were not performing as they should, made it my mission to teach myself about proper candle care etiquette.

here are a few essential candle care tips i’ve picked up along the way – some obvious, some slightly less so – which i thought might be useful to you too..

my candle care tips:

1/ when lighting a candle for the first time, allow it to burn for at least two hours to allow the wax to pool evenly and prevent tunnelling. if a candle isn’t fully melted across on the first use this will create a ‘memory ring’ and your candle will continue to tunnel in the same way each time it is lit thereafter.

2/ candles shouldn’t burn for more than four hours at a time, to prevent a mushrooming of the wick or blackening of the candle jar.

3/ as intuitive as it seems blowing out a candle is a no-no, as this can cause the wick to smoke, creating excess soot and a potential migration of the wick. instead use a candle snuffer to extinguish the flame.

4/ always give the wick a trim before relighting (to around 5mm) to promote an even burn, steady flame and reduce any sooting or mushrooming of wick.

5/ your candle wick should be centred, but can often migrate or burn at an angle. if this happens, use a small sturdy object such as a spoon or butter knife to reposition or straighten the wick once the flame has been extinguished but before the wax hardens into position.

6/ if your candle doesn’t come with a lid, you should invest in one. dust accumulating on the waxy surface of your candle can cause smoking or nasty odours next time you light the candle.

7/ placing a lit candle directly on a tabletop can result in heat-damage to the surface, particularly if the candle is nearing its end. it’s advisable to use a coaster to provide a heat buffer and prevent any unwanted scorching.

since it’s the season for investing in luxury candles – both for your own home and as thoughtful gifts for loved ones – i’ve also rounded up a selection of my favourite wintery and festive scented candles, as well as a range of beautiful candle care accessories to add to your holiday arsenal..

– festive scents & advent candles –

a warm, woodsy scent of cedarwood, dried tobacco, bay leaf and crushed peppercorn.

a christmas classic of orange blended with cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.

capturing the remote nordic wilderness; hardy shrubs, wild herbs and fragrant hills of heather. 

a warming winter scent with notes of birch log and sweet cinnamon.

slow weekend living, with top notes of pumpkin and base notes of cinnamon.

beautifully balanced clean mossy notes, layered with warm amber and musk.

a blend of quintessential festive fragrances – frankincense, patchouli and myrrh.

reminiscent of a aromatic vintage cologne scent, with warm spices & a hint of cognac.

notes of pine and fir sit alongside the warmth of aged leather and woodland lily of the valley.

a beautiful dusky pink advent candle with handwritten gold lettering. 

a mulled wine inspired fragrance orange, lime, patchouli, clove and star anise.

georg jensen’s annual christmas collectible for 2017, inspired by the christmas wreath.


– candle care accessories –

candle snuffer

candle stand 

advent candle holder

pretty matches 

tealight holder 

multi candle holder

wick trimmer

candle lid 

advent candle holder


oh, and one final word to the wise: never leave a burning candle unattended. no siree. 

 lifestyle photography from top: 1. skandium, 2 & 3. toast, 4 & 5. ferm living

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  1. I found this post really useful. Some of those tips I would never have thought f doing. I’ma regular candle burner. Thank you !

  2. How interesting! It seems I’m guilty of not caring for candles properly, must try harder.

  3. I totally need to trim my wick! Really useful post x

  4. Coming from a candle addict, these are great tips. Even though I burn candles all the time, I have never given much thought to the care of them such as; how to blow them out and, keeping a lid on when it’s not burning. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I’ve never really enjoyed burning candles precisely for many of the reasons you mention. But I’ll try these tips and see how I get on.

  6. Incredibly useful article, Kate :) and the perfect excuse for me to go and get myself a couple of luxury candles (as if I didn’t have enough!). Thanks for all the amazing tips!

  7. As a dedicated candle fanatic, this is such a useful guide and collection, thanks so much for sharing! Many of these tips I didn’t know and explain the premature death of more than a few candles. I always think spending a bit of money on a good candle is a worthwhile investment because they really do last longer and they are such a lovely and subtle design element in the home.