What is Tunneling and How Do I Fix It?

Tunneling CandleAre your candles creating a tunnel down the center, around the wick? Tunneling happens when a wick burns straight down the center, without heating up enough to melt the wax all the way to the edge of the container.

Not only does it not look great, tunneling means you won’t achieve maximum burn time to get the most out of your candle. It also leaves wax down the side of the container (which is a waste!) and causes the wick to eventually drown. If you don’t allow the candle to pool completely to the sides of the container every time, even the perfect candle can tunnel. Having an incorrect wick, wax, container, fragrance and dye combination can also lead to tunneling, as candlemakers work on perfecting an ideal burn combination.

Since soy is similar to memory foam, once it does start tunneling it remembers where it burned before and continues to deepen the tunnel each time it’s lit. Don’t worry though, if you have candles that have tunneled there are ways to get your candle back on track.

My candle has only tunneled a little:

Carefully take a lighter or match to heat the wax directly where it isn’t melting. This will force the wax pool to the sides of the jar, and it should burn correctly moving forward.

My candle has a medium tunnel:

Using foil around the rim of your candle will increase the heat trapped at the top of your candle, melting stubborn wax.

  1. Light your candle and wrap a layer of aluminum foil around the top, creating a domed lid with a hole in the top (be careful not to burn yourself!)
  2. Depending on the size of the candle, wait approximately one hour for the wax pool to reach the edge
  3. Carefully remove the foil (it will be hot)

My candle has a deep tunnel:

  1. Wait until your candle is completely cool and take a knife to cut away the excess wax
  2. Be sure to cut lower than the current burn so the wax pools into the cut next time you burn it
  3. Reuse the excess wax in a wax melter if you have one
  4. If you want to discard it, be sure to throw it in the trashcan and not down a sink drain

Afterwards, be sure to allow for a full melt pool (remember, all the way to the edge of the container) the next time you burn your candle. It will be reset and burn perfectly moving forward.