How To Choose a Candle

choosing candles

Choosing the right candles for your home or event can be more challenging than at first it may seem.  There are many factors that go into which candle will work best.  Some of the factors are, the environment the candles will be in, the number of candles being used, scented or unscented candles, and length of time the candles need to burn.

Lets assume that the candles being decided on are made by a reputable candle company and are high quality candles.  That is, of course, one of the most important factors.  There hundreds, if not thousands, of candle styles available to pick from so which one should you choose?

Why are you buying the candles?  People buy candles for many different reasons, for decoration, ambiance, to freshen the air, all of the above.  The answer to this question will begin you down one path or another.  A soft romantic ambiance can be gotten from any candle when it is lit.  However, you may not want to light a novelty candle (candle with a special shape or design) because it will be ruined once it is burned.  If all your going for is ambiance then you need to consider the environment the candles are being used in.  Is the setting a dinner for two or a bubble bath for one?  Taper candles are the traditional “romantic couple” dinner candles.  If you’re going for the bubble bath then you might just want a few tealights to surround the tub with.

If the candles are only going to be used for decoration, is it for your home or an event?  Many people purchase candles to use in their homes that they don’t intend to burn.  Pillar candles are very popular for creating decorative arrangements and centerpieces.  With so many pillar sizes and colors available finding candles to match your home decor is relatively easy.  If you are decorating for an event check with the venue about their rules pertaining to candles.  Some have a strict “no candles” rule.  Others allow candles but require that the candle flame not be higher than the top of the container they are in.  The type of event will determine what style of candle you look for.

If you’re using the candles to freshen the air, the main factor to consider is the size of the room.  Smaller rooms like bathrooms may only need a votive or small jar to freshen the air.  For larger rooms such as living rooms or master bedrooms larger candles like a 6×6 pillar or 64 oz. jar might be a better choice.  The larger the surface area of the liquid wax the faster the fragrance will be pushed into the air.  Some fragrances are naturally “lighter” than others.  A Vanilla scented candle may not be as noticeable as a Black Cherry, or a Honeydew as strong as a Lilac.  Sometimes a subtle fragrance is all that is desired.

Jar candles are very popular because they reduce the potential for wax to spill or drip on to the table.  Whatever the reason is for purchasing candles, if you light them make sure to not leave them unattended.

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Tips On How To Reduce Candle Soot

One of the biggest complaints about candles of all kinds is in regards to the soot that can be produced by them.  There are a variety of ways to greatly reduce the amount of soot coming from your candles which will also help them to burn better.  Today I will share some of these candle burning tips with you to help you have a better experience with you candles and save money. Lets first understand what causes soot from a candle flame.

What Causes Candle Soot

Soot from a candle is caused when there is incomplete combustion of the fuel.  This can be caused by a number of factors.  Two of those factors are the balance between the wax and wick in the candle and disturbing the candle flame.  The fuel to the candle flame is the liquid wax which is being drawn up through the wick.  Once the flame of the candle has started drawing the liquid candle wax up the wick, it does so at a steady rate.  When the candle flame is disturbed the size of the flame changes and the amount of fuel being used is no longer consistent.  When too much fuel is presented to the flame it is not all burned.  The excess fuel is put off in the form of soot.

Avoid Burning Candles in Drafty Areas

Burning candles in a drafty area such as near an open window, air duct, or fan will cause your candle to put off a large amount of soot.  When something causes the candle flame to bounce around the size of candle flame changes.  A steady flame will use a consistent amount of fuel.  A wick that is bouncing around will draw fuel up the wick at a variable rate, sometimes too much, other times, not enough.  When a large amount of fuel is drawn into the wick and then the flame size shrinks, not all the fuel is burned.  The extra oil is expelled as soot into the air.

Use Open Bottom Hurricanes and Vases

candle in hurricanneMany event locations, where candles are used for decoration, require that the candle flame not be exposed above the top of an enclosure.  This could mean the flame of your votive candle must be below the top edge of the glass or that pillars and taper candles need to be in tall cylinders or hurricanes.  At first this sounds like a good idea to also keep the draft away from your candles, and it is.  However, using a closed bottom cylinder or vase can create problems of its own.  Fire needs and uses oxygen to burn.  When you have a candle down inside of a container the oxygen is quickly used up and more is needed for the flame to continue burning.  Naturally, more air is sucked into the container through the top but at the same time the warm air heated by the candle flame is trying to get out.  This fight between the warm and cold air causes turbulence (a draft) in the container which causes the candle flame to dance and produce soot.  The best way around this problem is to use a cylinder or hurricane vase that is open on both ends.  Raise the container up off the table about a half inch using something that can spaced apart so air can get in through the bottom.  For my test I used 3 stacks of coins, which I am not recommending you use, but to give an example of what I mean.

Put Candle Cappers On Jar Candles

If you are burning a jar candle with an opening of about 3″ you can purchase a candle capper for less than $4.00.  Obviously there is nothing you can do about the jar having a closed bottom but these jar cappers will help regulate the air flow in and out of the jars and reduce sooting.  Jars will usually produce more and more soot the further down into the glass they burn.  This is because the flame is getting farther and farther away from the fresh source of oxygen. Here is a video that demonstrates how these jar caps work.

Trim The Wicks

The easiest way to reduce the amount of soot from a candle is to keep the wicks trimmed.  I recommend starting with about a 1/4″ wick for the first lighting.  If after a few minutes the candle flame looks too big or is bouncing around (while not in a draft) you should trim the wick a little shorter.  Keep an eye on your lit candles, they should never be left burning unattended.  If your candle has been burning for a long time the wicks may need to be trimmed again.  Don’t be afraid to blow a candle out, trim the wick and relight it.

Purchase Quality Candles

Make sure you are getting a well made candle.  A well made quality candle doesn’t mean expensive, it means well made.  Anyone can melt some wax through a string in it and call it a candle.  Is it a candle? Yes. Will it burn? Maybe.  Should you spend your hard earned money on it? Probably not.  The internet is full of pages on which people are selling candles.  Google search term candles, currently there are 165,000,000 results.  An experienced candle maker will know how to match the wick size, wax type, fragrance, and candle size to produce a great burning candle.

Conclusion

Use these tips to get the most value and the best burn out of your candles.

Cover The Smell Of Cigarette Smoke

cigarette smoke

One of the commonly asked questions in our candle shop is “Do you have anything that will cover the smell of cigarette smoke?” I am not a smoker, my wife is not a smoker, in fact nobody in my house smokes, my parents didn’t even smoke.  I really don’t like the smell of cigarette smoke as is the case with many people.  Often times the smell of cigarette smoke can become a point of tension between people living in the same house where one smokes and the other does not.  We have a candle that will help eliminate the smell of cigarette smoke from your home and help relieve some of that tension.  The name of this amazing candle fragrance is “Smoke Eater”.  Before you picture an army of smoke eater Pacmen charging forth and devouring the smoke particles out of the air, that isn’t quite how it works.

There are a number of different sections of olfactory sensors in your nose, similar to the taste buds on your tongue.  These sensors pick up different types of odors like sweet, dry, tart, spicy, etc.  The particles from the cigarette smoke interact with a variety of these sensors causing your brain to recognize the scent.  The fragrance from our Smoke Eater candles counter balance the negative smell of the cigarette smoke, neutralizing it.  Then adds positive, pleasant aromas which causes your brain to tell you that you are smelling something which is good.

Like I started off this post, I have never lived with a smoker so I can’t speak from personal experience.  However, we have repeat customers who live with smokers and swear by our Smoke Eater scented candles.  We offer this fragrance in our scented pillars, votives, jars, tealights, and tins.  Once you have had a chance to try this fragrance in your own home, leave a comment and let us know what you thought.

Why do my candles “tunnel” and can I fix them?

tunneling candleAs I have been skimming over candle related questions posted by people online I have seen the topic of tunneling come up quite often.  For those of you who do not know what tunneling means in relation to candles, it is when the candle burns straight down the middle and not out to the edges.  The point of this post is to explain a few reasons why a candle may tunnel and how to try and fix the problem.  I mean lets face it, nobody wants to toss a candle that has hardly been used.

Two of the main reasons a candle could tunnel are poor quality and too many short burns.  In the case of poor quality, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the wax was bad or the fragrance was cheap but most likely the wrong wick was used in the candle.  If the size of the wick is too small, it doesn’t create a large enough flame, which in turn doesn’t create enough heat to melt the wax.  What you want to see when you burn a jar candle or votive, (any type of container candle) is for the wax pool to reach all the way to the edge.

Sometimes the tunneling effect is caused by too many short burns.  Take note to the size of candle you are burning and to how long you are going to leave it lit.  If you know you will have to extinguish the candle in an hour or even two, light a smaller one like a votive or tealights.  A 4″ diameter jar candle won’t usually melt out to the edge in an hours time.  A few short burns in a row will start your candle tunneling.  What starts to happen next is as the flame works its way down into the candle it starts to melt wax off the walls.  This wax runs down the sides and fills up the hole around the wick and drowns it out.  Once that happens, relighting the candle will not work.

So how do you fix a candle that has tunneled? The easiest way to get fix your candle is to remove all of the waxtunneling candle fixed that is higher than the area around the wick.  Use a butter knife or a fork to carve away the built up wax.  You can use that wax in candle warmer or toss it in the trash.  If you try to light your candle it may not easily light.  This is because the wick is not long enough due to the liquid wax which ran down into the hole surrounding the wick.  When the wax hardens it leaves the wick to short to light.  You can carve some of the wax away from the wick and try lighting it.  A better option is to lay the candle on its side, use your lighter to melt the wax away from around the wick and pour it into the trash.  Relight your candle and make sure that you allow the wax pool to reach the edge before blowing it out.

For the poor quality candle you can do a temporary fix using the method above however you will need to repeat the process after a few burns because the candle will not ever melt all the way to the edges.

Putting Candles in the Freezer Does NOT Help.

Watch this experiment done by Jeff, the owner of Keystone Candle company which compares the burning two identical candles.  The only difference is that one of the taper candles was left in the freezer overnight.

You can tell that putting the candles in the freezer, it did not cause the taper to burn longer, and it caused the pillar candle to crack.  Don’t take the chance of ruining your candles, just light and enjoy.

Battery Operated LED Candles

battery operated candlesAccording to the National Candle Association, candles are used in 7 out of 10 households in the United States.  Candles are purchased for a number of different reasons including, decorating, ambiance, emergency use, and to freshen the air.  With the advances in technology, battery operated candles are now available that can meet the demand for each of the reasons people purchase candles.

In the beginning candles were usually made out of plastic and didn’t look very realistic.  Now many battery candles are made using real wax so they feel and look just like the real thing.  Early battery powered candles used low watt light bulb to try and replicate the glow from a candle flame.  These primitive designs did not flicker like a real candle flame does.  In addition the color of the light emitted from these bulbs didn’t match the natural glow of candle light.  Also these candles would drain the batteries pretty quickly.

The newer battery candles now use LED’s to give off a realistic flicker and glow simulating natural candle light much better than before.  This means that you can get the ambiance from an LED candle like you would from a real one.  Also because LED bulbs don’t use much energy, the batteries last much longer.  A few of the LED candles will change colors automatically or can be set to a specific color with a remote control if you want something other than the natural yellowish glow.

The battery operated candles now also come in a variety of sizes, colors, and fragrances.  This makes them perfect to decorate with around your home or for events.  Many of the candles are also scented, freshening the air as well as being decorative.

There are many options available when it comes to turning your battery candles on and off.  All of them come with a manual on/off switch, usually on the base of the candle, out of sight.  In addition to that, some also have built in timers remote control candleswhich will turn the candles on and off automatically.  Some of the more advanced battery candles are remote controlled.  Usually 1 remote control can be used for all the candles in your home as long as they are from the same manufacturer.

Battery powered candles also come in a wide range of sizes and shapes from tealights to pillar candles and jars to tapers.  There are unique holiday themed candles like ghosts for Halloween, pumpkins for Thanksgiving, and snowmen for Christmas available too.  The greatest benefit to LED candles is that there is no open flame to watch or worry about.  They can be used safely around kids and pets.

Create Affordable Favors That Look Amazing

votive cup favorsPeople who are looking to get the best quality for the lowest price realize that sometimes it is hard to have both.  If you looking for some  inexpensive decorating ideas for place settings at your dinner table or favors at your wedding, these decorated votive cups will fit the bill.  With a little bit of work you can have 1 of a kind decorations at a very low cost.  The price to put together one of these votive holders is under $2.00 and will be even cheaper if you use flowers or greenery from your garden or yard.

What you need to make favor:

  • straight sided votive cups
  • some ribbon (we used 1 1/2″ wide satin but any kind will do)
  • raffia (twine or string can be used)
  • double stick tape
  • flowers (we used wild flowers on one and a lily on the other but you can use whatever you want, you can also use fake flowers, leaves, berry clusters, etc )
  • votive candles to fill the cups

Step 1: Cut a piece of ribbon to wrap around the votive cup and over lap about 1/2″.

Step 2: Stick a small piece of double stick tape to the votive cup right about in the middle.  If you use a thinner ribbon and want it to wrap around near the top or bottom, put the tape on accordingly.

Step 3: Attach one end of the ribbon to the tape, stick a second piece of tape on top and near the end of the ribbon which is now attached to the cup.

Step 4: Wrap the ribbon around the votive cup keeping it as tight and straight as you can.  Press the end of the ribbon down onto the tape to hold it in place.

Step 5: Cut a piece of raffia or twine long enough to wrap around the votive cup 2 times and to tie a bow or knot.

Step 6: Wrap the raffia around the votive cup 2 times (you can do more or less, just cut the length accordingly) and tie in the flowers or greenery you chose for the decorative accent.

I found that with the lily flower, since it had a thicker stalk, it was easier to tie my raffia into a knot then tie the decorative votive cupsflower in with the bit of raffia that was left.  For the wild flowers, the raffia was loose enough that I could slip them in behind the raffia after I had tied it.

If you are making your decorations up pretty long in advance you might want to stick with fake flowers so that they don’t look dead by the time your guests arrive.  Also, very important note… make sure that whatever you use for the accent does not hang down into the votive cup and create a fire hazard when you light the candle inside.