how to burn a candle

Not too long ago I stumbled upon this article about the proper way to burn candles, and while so simple, it made so much sense.  I had no idea I was burning candles incorrectly for years.

It’s a bummer when you get a new candle, start to burn it and notice the wax is funneling or it’s creating a black ring around the candle jar. Especially when you’re burning a gorgeous, expensive candle. I want to get every drop out of them! The ones you’ll find around our house are from Votivo and Capri Blue, and at the bottom of this post I’m sharing my favorite candle scent and how YOU can win your own luxe candles (scent of your choice)!

I discovered three important steps in my research that I now always abide by when burning candles.

Burn Time

Especially for a candle’s first burn, they should burn for at least one hour per inch of container diameter. So, if you bought a new candle that is 3 inches in diameter, you should burn your candle for at least 3 hours (though not more than 4 at a time).

Wax has a memory, so you want to burn your candle so the melted wax spreads all the way out to the edge of your container. That way, when you burn your candle the next time, it will remember to melt all the way out to the sides. Another solution for easily doing this is finding candles with multiple wicks.

Below is an example of what not to do!

red currant candle

Trim Your Wicks

Trim your wicks to 1/4 inch before lighting, and try not to burn for more than 4 hours, otherwise carbon will start to accumulate again (queue the black smoke and that not-so-pretty black rim on your candle jar).  I’m trying to actively be better at this. It’s definitely my biggest candle downfall!  I think I need this set in my life for easy trimming.

Before You Blow It Out…

If you’re real fancy, you can use the tip of a screwdriver to dip the wick in the wax to put out the flame. Then use it to straighten the wick out for the next burn. Or you can use a snuffer like this one!

hermes traycapri blue candlematchbook collectionsan francisco apartmentgold leaning mirrorvotivo red currant candlehow to burn a candlesan francisco apartmenthome office inspirationrolling stones teeyellow labvotivo candle giveaway

photos by Christian Barnes

tee | neck scarf | denim | black & white abstract pillows | tea kettle | cup & saucer

I wanted to photograph the glass jar that I have in our den filled with matchbooks. I started collecting them years ago, and my grandmother actually gave me some of hers she’s saved from when she was a flight attendant, traveling all over the U.S. I love reaching in to see what I pull out, where it’s from and guessing if it was originally mine or hers.  A fun little thing to collect!

AND, now the most exciting part of today’s post! One of my absolute favorite candle brands, Votivo, is giving a CBL reader the chance to win 3 candles of his/her choice!

I’ve shared my love of their products in this post, but their Red Currant Collection has slowly become the signature scent of our home. It smells earthy and musk-y, and better yet, it’s Barnez-approved. Everybody wins.

To Enter (open to US residents):

1)  Leave a comment with your favorite candle scent.

2)  Subscribe to my new YouTube Channel (and leave your YouTube username so I can find you!).

**UPDATE: The winner is Cara Alexander! Thank you so much to everyone who entered!**

Thanks so much for reading and entering! XO –

91 Comments|See Comments

91 thoughts on “Candle Burning 101

  1. My favorite home fragrance is Vetiver. Clean, and. Delicious! I’ve subscribed to your channel user name Susan Hynson

  2. Love this post! I’ve always been a huge candle fan, I mean who doesn’t love a good candle! My fav scent has to be Lavender, but let’s face it- I’ve never smelt a candle I didn’t like! I also 100% need that snuffer you linked.. recently I had my fiancé get out of bed to blow out a candle we had burning in our bedroom and he blew it so hard the wick liquid splattered all over one of our Kate Spade frames holding our brand new engagement photos…(after my melt down that I had to get out of bed to clean) we couldn’t stop laughing!

    Thanks for this post, I need to follow that wick trimming dude, my mom told me that years ago and I never listen hahaha.

    YouTube Name: Ashley Taylor-Smith, subscribed & keep the videos coming! Love them

  3. I especially love any fresh and clean scents! Great idea with the jar and matchbooks. Do you happen to know the name of the nail color you’re wearing in these pics? Also, I subscribed to your YouTube channel – username is Ashley Nescio.

  4. My go to candle is Bath and Body Works- Cinnamon Spiced Vanilla…it’s heavenly! This was such a fun and unique post, thanks for sharing!

  5. My favorite scent always is vanilla, love to light candles. My UTube name is DenyeBennett, I subscribed.

  6. I’m a candle junkie! The Parisian Cafe candle at Bath and Body Works is probably my all time favorite (it is hubby approved, too). My YouTube user name is abbradley15 🙂

  7. Hi! First off, I LOVE this post! I had a boss who used to work in a candle shop and she taught me allll about the dos and don’ts of candle burning. My husband thinks I’m crazy for trimming wicks haha. My favorite candle scent is currently the Spiked Cider candle by Rewined. They used recycled bottles for the candle vessels and each one is scented like a different type of wine. They’re heavenly! My YouTube channel can be found by searching Erin Gabriel – 🙂

  8. Super helpful hints! I subscribed, and im pretty sure my username is my first and last name (my gmail account). Id rather not post my last name here. Hope I still count as an entry! Would love a new fall candle!

  9. I love Capri Blue. I’m also a Mississippi State gal, so I love supporting local businesses!

    My user name is Jennifer Quick

  10. I was just looking into this last night, so this was helpful 🙂 I also love anything vanilla or their Amber/Smoke scent! My username is Naomi Lentz

  11. Who knew there was so much to learn? Thanks for all the tips. Like you, I generally love earthy scents especially in the Fall. Although I do have a vanilla and fig candle in my office right now that is quite yummy!

  12. Candles are my love language! I can never stop burning the volcano scent from Capri. I always take matches from restaurants or hotels when I travel, but I never thought to put them in a pretty jar before. BTW I’m so glad you now have a YouTube channel!!

  13. Who knew there was a right and wrong way to burn a candle‍♀️ Thanks for the tips! My fav candle
    Scents are anything rose or lavender or musky scents. I’ve subscribed to your YouTube name is Tammy Engel! Thank you!

  14. These tips are so great! I’ve never heard the term that candles have memory and never would have thought about the first burn being so important but it makes sense!

    I’m now fully convinced that I *need* a wick trimmer and candle snuffer.

    And I know it’s soooo basic but my favorite year-round scent is Capri Blue’s Volcano #sueme. But I will say their Pumpkin Clove is the absolute best for this time of year – it smells like a Fall wonderland!

    xo MK

  15. Ah I so appreciate this post. I am huge candle lover and never understood why my candles would funnel ‍♀️. My favorite candle scent is sweet & Smokey. Like vanille from diptque and right now during fall I love ones that are sweet and spicy. Always love your posts girl I feel I always learn something 🙂

  16. What would my life be without you?!?! Haha I love this. My favorite scent is the Votive Tembered! Just like you – my fiancé LOVES this smell so errrrrbody wins!

  17. YouTube name is Alli George & favorite votivo scents are red currant collection and crisp white linen!! Thank you for the candle knowledge!!!

  18. Great post! I never knew so much went into burning a candle. i just lit it and blew it out. It makes sense though with your explanations, but right now i’m on a candle ban since I nearly burned my hair last time lol!


  19. I love anything citrus so either grapefruit or lemongrass! My username is Katherine Bourgeois <3

  20. My youtube username is Cara Alexander, and my favorite candle scents are warm, fall scents, like vanilla or apple cinnamon. I started collecting matchbooks in college, and its one of my favorite ways to remember where I have been!

  21. My favorite candle to burn and smell is Capri Blue Volcano! I need to remember to trim the wick on my candles. YouTube user name is Julieful.

  22. I love the Volcano smell from Capri Blue! Absolute favorite anytime of the year. Also love their Spiced Amber during the fall.

  23. I love the same scent as you-anything that is warm and earthy with a touch of Patchouli, sandalwood and Musk! A fireside scent is also great.
    YouTube-Christy Hults

  24. What an interesting read! Never knew there was a specific way to burning candles. Honeysuckle scent is one of my favorites! YouTube name is Carly Wilbanks

  25. I implement almost all of these tips, but I need to be better about trimming the wicks before I light candles! My favorite scent is almost anything related to the fall season. I particularly love Leaves & Marshmallow Fireside. Would love to try a few Votivo candles! Youtube username: Mallory Vetsch 🙂

  26. I love earthy smells so anything teakwood or oakmoss or anything that smells like a man’s cologne! I am super excited to try the scent you recommended though. It sounds up my alley! Oh, and my YouTube name is Staceyhayes27

  27. I subscribed to your YouTube Mary-Elsye winchester. I love fall scented candles, pumpkin spice, caramel apple etc

  28. I subscribed to your YouTube Mary-Elsye winchester. I love fall scented candles like caramel apple and pumpkin spice

  29. I’m all about Fraiser Fir! And I subscribed, my youtube name is Erin Fairchild.

  30. I love something warm and mushy like an amber or something similar to a cologne; but my latest purchase was a basic pumpkin spice

  31. My fave scent is constantly changing. Sometimes I love a moody, masculine smell. Other times I want something fresh and light. It changes with the seasons too. My you tube is Kelly Potter

  32. So hard to pick a favorite scent! I love volcano and modern mint by Capri blue, and red currant from votivo! I haven’t tried as many votivo scents though. I also love leaves, sweater weather, and other holiday scents from bath and body works. My YouTube username is emangum94!

  33. Favorite candle scent is Pumpkin Spice (or anything pumpkin/fall really)! Username is Brittany McGee.

  34. i love herbal-ish scents like eucalyptus and fir!

    my youtube name is Davis Ann Langston 🙂 thanks for all the fun content!

  35. My favorite is Bath & Body Works Mahogany Coconut (or anything with Mahogany notes…so cozy)!

    YouTube username: Amber Hamack

  36. My favorite candle is Baies by Diptyque (or anything with black/red currant scent!) I would absolutely love to win one of the Votivo candles from the Red Currant collection because I know I would lovveee! My YT username is haileybryant (I think..?) 🙂

  37. My fav candle is by Rathbornes from Dublin. The scent is Dublin Tea Rose and Patchoulli. It’s FABULOUS!!!

  38. I love these candles!! My favorite is the red currant scent. My mom has been buying them since I was young and I’ve always loved how amazing they smell. My YouTube name is Regan Olivarez.

  39. LOVE this! I am a total candle junkie and firm believer in trimming your wicks 😉
    Would love to win this, I believe having candles lit makes a home 100x more cozy and relaxing.

    Followed on youtube, my username is Brianna Kozlarek!

  40. I love how you have a collection of matchbooks with some from your grandmother. What a sweet and sentimental touch to your home! I never even knew about any of these candle tricks! My bf is obsessed with candles and has definitely rubbed that love off on me now that we live together lol I’ll have to give him the low down! We love citrusy, clean scents like Capri blue and b&bw leaves is the best in the fall. I’m so glad you started a YouTube channel since I can’t get enough of your insta stories. You always make me laugh and share the best content! My username is Jessica Olliges 🙂

  41. Love anything with a hint of Prosecco! (Really just a good motto for life in general ) And my YouTube username is just Lindsay Roseman! Been loving your vids on IG, can’t wait for more <3

  42. That first burn tip is AMAZING. I’m kicking myself for ruining so many candles in my past. My fav scent is usually anything tropical or floral.

    (my youtube name is onethounote…I made it a while ago ok!)

  43. I love anything beach related: salty air, sand, coconut, cocoa butter, driftwood, mineral. Another is gardenia. I adore them. My husband planted different varieties of gardenia in pots for our back deck for when I have my coffee in the mornings or just want to read outside, and we have them as shrubs in front of our house. So that smell is amazing in spring & summer. For fall I really enjoy warm smells of spice mixed with sandalwood. Not that fake smelling pumpkin spice stuff. Sandalwood or cedar wood mixed with patchouli & amber. Lovely & warm & sophisticated

  44. I love sage, also love rosemary. Changes depending on the season!

    ~Subscribed to your channel!

  45. LOVE Capri Blue Volcano scent. My all time favorite!! Thanks for sharing this post- I’ve been doing it all wrong 🙂 Youtube is Caroline Sotile

  46. Marshall’s sells a candle by sensational in Pumpkin Bourbon scent. 11oz of natural coconut wax blend for $7! Run, don’t walk to your nearest Marshall’s if you love fall scents this time of year! My fav xo

  47. I always thought those snuffers were so expensive, at $12 I just might have to get one. My favorite scent is Honeysuckle. Youtube: yasi salehi-nguyen

  48. My favorite scent right now is the White Tea & Jasmine from Woodwick. It’s light and not too offensive, which I love. But I have a feeling with fall approaching, I’ll be looking for something a little sweeter and more cozy.

    My Youtube username: Jacquelyn Brooks.

    Jacqie @

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