Why Do Candles Have Memory?

The first time you light a candle is more important than you think and will determine how well your candle will burn throughout its lifecycle.

Make a mistake here, and you can unknowingly ruin an otherwise great candle.

That’s why it’s essential to understand why candles have a memory to ensure you get the best performance out of your candles without wasting candle wax.

In this article, we’ll get you up to speed on what candle memory is, why it’s happening, and what you can do to fix a candle with memory problems.

What Is Candle Memory?

Candles form memory based on the melt pool from the first time you burn the candle.

The melt pool is the area of the candle wax that has melted while burning the candle.

The candle wax forms a memory ring of this melt pool and will continue to melt up to its original memory ring with ease each time you light the candle.

This is why it’s important to burn a candle until the melt pool has reached the full diameter of the candle (full melt pool).

If you blow out a candle before it has reached a full melt pool, you’ll notice the memory ring is smaller than the diameter of the candle, and a tunnel begins to form.

With each following burn, the tunnel gets deeper and deeper, and now you have a bunch of wasted wax around the sides of the candle.

Why Does Candle Memory Affect the Candle?

We learned that the melt pool not reaching the full diameter of the candle will cause a memory ring, but why does this memory ring significantly impact the following candle burns?

When the melt pool from the previous burn of the candle cools and solidifies, this wax won’t be as hard as the wax surrounding the memory ring that never melted.

Since this wax is softer than the surrounding wax, it takes much less heat to melt, causing it to melt much faster.

The more times you burn the candle without adequately addressing this memory issue, the harder it will be for the candle to melt the harder surrounding wax.

Prevent Candle Memory Problems

You’ll likely not have any memory problems by following best practices for burning candles.

As we discussed earlier, when burning candles, you’ll always want to burn the candle long enough for the melt pool to reach the full diameter of your candle.

A recommended guideline is to burn the candle for 1 hour per inch of diameter of the candle. For example, if you have a 2-inch candle, burn it for at least 2 hours. If you have a 4-inch candle, burn it for at least 4 hours.

Plan and think about how long you’ll be able to have a candle lit without leaving it unattended. Save the larger candles for when you have plenty of time to fully melt the candle’s surface.

Other Factors That Influence Candle Memory

Type of Wax

Harder waxes, like paraffin, will have a more challenging time recovering from candle memory issues than softer waxes, like soy.

If your candle uses a harder wax like paraffin or beeswax, it’s crucial to address any memory issues as soon as possible.

Size of Container

Large container candles are most prone to forming memory rings simply due to the amount of time required to achieve a full melt pool of the candle.

Always plan ahead and leave plenty of time to safely burn large candles long enough to melt the surface layer of the candle.

Multiple Wicks

A candle with multiple wicks will melt its surface at a faster rate and reduce the chances of memory issues occurring.

How to Fix Candle Memory Problems

Burn Time

If you’re at the beginning stages of memory problems, it’s possible to burn the candle long enough for it to fix itself.

The amount of time will depend on the specific candle and its size but plan for at least 3-4 hours for the average candle.

Make sure to burn the candle long enough to completely melt the candle’s surface on the following burns.

Heat Gun

Use a heat gun to melt the wax surrounding the memory ring.

Use the lowest setting and move the heat gun evenly around the candle to target the problem areas.

Aluminum Foil

Wrap aluminum foil around the container of the candle. This will insulate the candle, help retain heat, and help melt the wax around the memory ring, which did not previously melt.

Remove Surrounding Wax

Use a spoon or whatever utensil/tool you have available to remove the wax and level the surface of your candle.


The first time a candle is lit will set a memory blueprint of how much wax the candle will melt with ease for the duration of the candle’s life.

Having candle wax memory problems can be frustrating, leaving you with wasted wax and a shortened candle lifespan, so remember always to use best burn practices.

Only light a candle when you know you’ll have time for it to melt the entire surface of the candle.

If you have to put a candle out early don’t panic. There are ways to fix candle wax memory problems. Just don’t make it a habit.