How to Fix Candle Tunneling (Simple Steps)

Are your candle’s being ruined from tunneling problems?

Candle tunneling is a common problem and can lead to wasted wax and significantly shortened burn time.

Below you’ll learn how to fix candle tunneling, what causes tunneling, and how to prevent it from happening in the future.

How to Fix Candle Tunneling

A tunnel will form in a candle when it cannot melt its full diameter, leaving a ring of unmelted wax. If you have this problem, it’s crucial to fix it as soon as possible, as the longer you wait, the harder it’ll be to save your candle.

Below are simple methods to fix this problem and extend the lifespan of your candle.

Heat Gun

If you haven’t bought a heat gun yet, now is the time, as it’s an excellent tool for candles.

Set the heat gun to the lowest setting.

Point at the candle’s surface and move in a circular motion to melt the wax evenly.

Repeat until you have a level surface.

Aluminum Foil

Using aluminum to insulate the candle will allow the additional heat to help melt the surrounding unmelted wax.

The foil should wrap around the sides of the candle and extend over the top of the candle to cover the unmelted wax surrounding the tunnel.

Keep a hole in the center for the candle’s flame.

Candle Topper

Candle toppers work similarly to the aluminum foil method.

By placing the topper on the candle, you’ll be insulating the heat and melting the problem wax areas created by tunneling.

These candle toppers come in many styles and designs for you to choose from, making them a more elegant solution than aluminum foil.

Scoop Away Wax

Use a spoon or knife to scoop away wax to level the surface.

You can also try this in combination with one of the above methods. First, soften the wax with a heat gun or aluminum foil, then attempt to level the candle’s surface with a tool.

Take caution when handling hot wax!

Try a Long Burn Session

If the tunneling isn’t severe, you may be able to fix the problem with a long burn session.

Burn the candle long enough for the candle to burn as much of the candle’s surface as it can.

Then use a tool (spoon, chopstick) to poke around the surrounding wax and incorporate it with the melted wax until you have leveled out the candle’s surface.

What Causes Candle Tunneling?

How Long Did You Burn the Candle?

Not burning the candle until the entire surface has melted is the most common cause of tunneling.

Putting out a candle before the melt pool has reached the edge of the container will create a wax memory ring around where the candle previously melted.

The wax the candle previously melted is softer than the surrounding wax that wasn’t given the time to melt, thus making the surrounding wax harder to melt.

The candle will naturally take the path of least resistance and begin to form a tunnel in the wax.

Wick Size

If a wick is too small for the candle, the flame won’t be large enough to melt the wax properly.

A small wick will lead to a weak flame, poor burn quality, and tunneling with a lot of wasted wax.

Candle Burn Disruption

Any disruption to the candle’s flame can lead to an uneven burn.

The candle’s flame can be disrupted by an untrimmed wick, heavy air movement, or a poorly produced candle.

How to Prevent Candle Tunneling

Multiple-Wick Candles

When you have a multiple-wick candle, it’s essential to light all the wicks each time you burn the candle.

Candles have multiple wicks to improve burn quality for candles that wouldn’t perform as well with only a single wick, but this only works by lighting all the wicks every time you burn.

Lighting only one wick will not extend the candle’s life and will lead to issues like tunneling.

Candle Burn Time

It’s crucial to melt the entire candle’s surface before putting it out.

Melting the entire candle’s surface will prevent tunneling and avoid candle memory issues that can stick with the candle throughout its lifespan.

However, sometimes life happens, and you can’t burn the candle long enough to get a full melt pool.

In this case, set aside enough time on the next burn to melt the entire surface.

As long as you don’t make it a habit to blow out the candle prematurely, recovering from the early stages of tunneling will be much easier for you.

Maintain the Candle Wick

Keep the wick trimmed to ¼ inch above the candle’s surface.

Many people forget to maintain the candle wicks, which can lead to problems like an irregular flame and an uneven melt pool.

Wicks that are too long or naturally curling wicks may end up leaning to one side of the candle giving uneven heat distribution and forming a tunnel effect on one side.

Keeping the wick trimmed will ensure you have a quality flame and avoid uneven melting patterns.

Keep Candle Away from Drafts

Keep the candle away from direct drafts like fans and windows.

Disrupting the candle’s combustion process will lead to uneven melt pools and a poor-quality burn.

Use the Correct Wick Size

Undersized wicks will lead to tunneling.

To spot an undersized wick, look for a small flame that doesn’t get hot enough to melt the candle’s entire surface.

Since the flame is too weak to handle the candle’s size, it will naturally melt a tunnel into the wax regardless of how long you burn.

Remember that anything you add to the candle, like fragrances, dyes, or other additives, may change the optimal wick size for your candle.

I recommend starting with three sizes when testing a new wick for your candle.

Use the recommended size from the wick supplier for your candle’s size, plus one size down and one size up, and record the results to see which will be the best fit.

The flame should look steady with a melt pool that reaches the full diameter of the candle and is about a half-inch deep.