Weekend Projects

5 Quick Ways to Show Your Candles Some Love (And Help Them Last Longer!)

published Apr 9, 2021
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Credit: Liz Calka

Apartment Therapy Weekend Projects is a guided program designed to help you get the happy, healthy home you’ve always wanted, one weekend at a time. Sign up now for email updates so you never miss a lesson.

You don’t often see “candles” as a to-do item on cleaning checklists, but if you own any, you know they cling to their fair share of dust. They’re also an important part of your life at home, providing a warm ambience, a ritualistic reward after cleaning the kitchen, or a pleasant scent that reminds you to take a deep breath and relax.

Just like any other part of your home, your candles require some cleaning and maintenance. And just like you enjoy the peace and calm of a clean kitchen or bathroom, you’ll enjoy your cleaned-up, maintained candles in a relaxing new way.

This weekend, you’re going to go around the house and give some love to each of your candles. From scented jar candles to decorative tapers and everything in between, let’s spruce up your candle collection.

This Weekend: Do some candle rehab.

Candles could require various forms of maintenance, depending on their type and how they’ve been used. Before you spend your time caring for individual candles, decide if there are any that you can thin out from your collection. Scents you don’t enjoy, colors that no longer fit in with your decor, or candles that you just don’t like or use for whatever reason? Let them go so they can make their way to someone who will get some use out of them.

Next, give your remaining candles a little spa day so the mini spa moments they give you are the best they can be.

Here are some ways to show your candles some love:

Clean them.

Candles, especially ones that aren’t in jars or tins with lids, get dusty. Often, the dust sticks to the wax and makes it hard to simple wipe it off with a duster. Instead, try using an old pair of hosiery; or a damp microfiber cloth should also work. Just make sure to rub in one direction rather than back and forth.

Trim your wicks.

Hopefully, you’re doing this already. Trimmed wicks allow for a cleaner and brighter burn and prevent soot marks on your candle jars and surrounding surfaces. You can use nail clippers if your wick is too deep to use scissors, or you can invest in a pair of wick trimmers, which both trim your wick and lift the cut-off ends up and out of your candle.

Fix candle tunneling.

Candle tunneling is what occurs when you don’t let the wax across the entire surface of your candle melt before extinguishing the flame. If there’s a tunnel in your candle, the wax surrounding it won’t ever burn. Obviously, this shortens the life of your candle and minimizes how much scent is released each time you burn it. To fix candle tunneling, make a tent that will go over your candle with aluminum foil. Add vent holes, light your candle, and then put the foil tent over the top. Allow the candle to burn and melt the wax until the top surface is level. Keep a close watch on your candle and use tongs to avoid burns when you remove the foil.

Remove dripped and dried wax from candle holders and surfaces.

If your candles have dripped wax onto their holders, or the surfaces below, take this moment to reset and clear the wax (unless you love the aesthetic, in which case, carry on). You can pry up dried wax with a razor blade. Or if the wax is being really stubborn, try blasting the wax stain with a hairdryer to re-melt the wax and wipe it off with a clean cloth.

Credit: Lana Kenney

Remove leftover wax from spent candles.

I love to repurpose candle jars, and when I am purchasing a candle, I often choose based on whether I will like the container once the candle is finished. Getting the wax out of a container so you can use it for holding pens or as a vase is easy. Just stick the container in the freezer and in a few hours, once the wax is frozen, you can pop it out with a little nudge from a butter knife. Repurpose the jars as organizers around your space, or refill them with a wax candle refill kit like the ones from Siblings.

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Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we’ve sent you, or tackle another project you’ve been meaning to get to. It’s also completely okay to skip a weekend if you’re busy or not feeling the assignment.