This No-Cost Hack Will Help You Fix a Wasted Candle in an Hour or Less

published Dec 18, 2020
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Credit: Kristan Lieb

If you’re a candle person, chances are you don’t just like them—you love them, and stock up on one or more for every vibe and every room in your house. Taking care of those fragrant pillars can feel like a chore all its own, given you should be trimming the wick before every burn and making sure the pool of wax extends to the edge of your candle’s vessel before blowing it out to preserve the wax’s memory. But even the best-intentioned of candle owners can end up with a tunneling candle from time to time, and trying to nurse an expensive candle back to life can take plenty of time and patience.

… or so I thought, until I saw an ingenious hack as demonstrated by The Cut’s beauty director, Kathleen Hou. On her Instagram account, she demonstrated how to save a tunneling Diptyque candle with nothing more than tin-foil, a match, and an hour or so of your time.

The method is simple: Trim your wick and light the candle as you normally would. Then, create a “hat” for your candle using tin foil, but be sure to leave a hole at the top so that your candle has a ventilation point. (Not doing so will trap carbon dioxide, and extinguish the flame.) Then, leave your candle alone for an hour or so: The retained heat should melt the tunneled wax, and extend the life of your candle exponentially.

Hou first discovered the hack on Google a few years ago when she needed to rehab a candle or two. “I had been a bad candle mom, and not trimming or doing a ‘complete burn,’ as candle wads say, so my candles had a wall of unburned wax at the edges which built up,” she tells Apartment Therapy. “It was annoying, like finding out an ice cream pint has become victim to freezer burn. It felt like thwarted pleasure.” So, she Googled a solution and happened upon the tin foil trick.

Tunneling, she adds, occurs because “wax has a long-lasting memory, sort of like the way we are about exes who have wronged us. We might forgive but we remember! Wax remembers up to where the last ‘burn’ was.” Now, any time her candles act up, she gives them a “little time out” with the aluminum hat, and sets them straight.

Credit: Lana Kenney

She warns that you should always be careful when removing the tin foil from your candle, as it will be hot. “Don’t burn your fingers on it!” she says. “Also, do not allow your tin foil hat to dip or it will catch fire.”

If you are short on time, you can also fix a candle by popping it onto a baking sheet and inside an oven preheated to 175 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a method Apartment Therapy’s style director, Danielle Blundell, swears by. You can also use a hair dryer to soften the wax. And if fixing a tunneled candle suddenly makes the wick disappear, carefully dig it out using the edge of a knife. Never waste a candle—or its precious wax— again.