5 Reasons your candle is Tunnelling and How to fix it

So you have bought a very lovely, probably expensive, scented candle. You light it and after a while the candle is tunnelling! Not to worry I have the main reasons this happens and how to fix it.

The wick is too small for the candle

Wick sizing is very important when it comes to candle making. Too small you can end up with a candle that tunnels so always test! The flame from a wick that is too small doesn’t properly melt the wax to a full pool and end up heading downwards rather than out.

You need to allow the first burn to go to the edges of the container

Candle care 101, allow the wax to melt to the edges of the container in the first burn. If you don’t, the candle has what’s known as wax memory and will only burn to the edge of its first light. Always allow the wax to pool to the edges, and you should have a perfect burning candle each time!

The wick is too long at lighting and the candle is tunnelling

When a wick is allowed to be too long at a lighting, the flame can get too big. When that happened, the wax burns too fast and can tunnel instead of going to the edges. Always cut/trim you wick to 5mm or ¼ inch prior to EACH lighting. You will get a good quality burn each time.

A wick that is too thick at lighting

Similar to a wick that is too long, a large or too thick wick for the candle can create a large flickering flame that gets too hot. Again too hot means faster burning which can risk tunnelling, always test your candles for correct wick size.

Wax and wick combination

Testing is a very important part or candle making. You can have a very successful burn with soy wax and wick type, then swap out for coconut wax and you get tunnelling. Always making small, noted changes to correctly identify the tunnelling culprit. Many manufacturers will give guidelines on the types of wick that work with waxes.

How to fix a candle that is tunnelling

Once this happens, don’t worry your candle can easily be saved! The most tried and tested method is actually to get some tinfoil and cup it around your candle, leaving a small hole at the top for the heat to escape. The heat will collect around the edge of the candle and melt the excess wax. You can always use a heat gun to melt the wax if you are eager.

Want to learn more about candle making? Head to my workshop tab to find my next candle making class! You will go home with a bag full of goodies, a refill kit to create candles at home and loads of candle knowledge. You can find the workshops here.


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