How Do You Light A Candle Perfectly?

Lighting candles has been an important ritual across cultures and religions for centuries. Candles can represent faith, peace, life, and more. Carefully lighting a candle is a symbolic act that deserves care and attention to do it properly.

This guide will provide tips on choosing the right candle and holder, preparing the candle properly before lighting, techniques for a perfect light, letting the candle pool and cool after use, and safety precautions. With the right approach, lighting a candle can be a meditative, meaningful experience.

Following these steps will allow you to light candles in a way that is beautiful, safe, and imbued with intention. Taking the time to light a candle mindfully can be soothing and centering. This guide contains everything you need to know to light candles with care and purpose.

Selecting the Right Candle

When choosing a candle, first consider what type of candle you need. Some common candle types include:

  • Taper candles – These tall, skinny candles are designed for use in candlesticks. They allow the flame to burn freely. Tapers come in a variety of sizes. Look for a taper that is about 1 inch shorter than your candle holder so it is stable. Source
  • Pillar candles – These fat, cylindrical candles are designed to stand on their own. Pillars burn evenly and come in a variety of diameters. Make sure to choose a pillar wide enough to be stable in its holder. Source
  • Votive candles – These short, stout candles are made to fit in small glass votive holders. Their shape allows them to melt into an even pool of wax as they burn. Votives are inexpensive and burn for 5-10 hours. Source

The wick is also an important factor. Look for candles with cotton or wood wicks that are wide enough to sustain the candle’s flame. Choose a wick size suited to the candle diameter.

For the highest quality burn, look for candles made from natural materials like soy wax, beeswax, or vegetable oils. Avoid paraffin candles if possible. Candle size and shape should complement the holder you intend to use.

Preparing the Candle

Before lighting a candle, it’s important to properly prepare the wick to ensure proper and safe burning. According to candle experts, you should trim the wick to 1/4 inch before the initial lighting to prevent issues like tunneling and smoking (Malibu Apothecary, 2022). Using either wick trimmers or small scissors, carefully trim the wick so it is straightened and stands at an ideal 1/4 inch height.

image of someone using a long lighter to carefully light the wick of a candle

You also want to make sure the wick is centered and standing straight up in the wax. If needed, gently straighten or re-center the wick so it is positioned optimally. Having the wick trimmed, centered, and straightened will allow for full melt pool coverage and maximize scent throw when you light the candle (Malibu Apothecary, 2022). Taking just a minute to prep the wick makes for better performance and safety.

Choosing the Right Candle Holder

Selecting the proper candle holder is crucial for both safety and ambiance. The holder must securely grip the candle to prevent tipping and spilling melted wax. According to interior designers, the best holders provide stability and fire safety (Source 1).

The material of the holder also matters. Glass holders let light shine through for brilliance. Metallic holders like brass, iron or pewter provide sleek, modern style. Absorbent materials like terra cotta, concrete and wood accentuate scents. Ceramic holders come in limitless shapes and patterns (Source 2).

Additionally, the holder must fit the candle. Taper candles need a base with multiple prongs. Vessels for pillar candles should be slightly wider than the candle diameter. Floating candle holders only require a base for the wick. Ensure ample clearance so melted wax has space (Source 1). Selecting the proper holder provides security and perfect ambiance.

Lighting the Candle

Lighting the candle properly is key to getting it to burn evenly. The best tools for lighting candles are matches or a long lighter, as these allow you to hold the flame directly to the wick without burning your fingers. Avoid using paper or other materials to transfer the flame, as this can create excess smoke when lighting.

Hold the match or lighter horizontally and touch the tip of the flame to the very top of the wick. Hold it there for about 10-15 seconds until the wick begins to glow and catch fire. Make sure the wick is lit before blowing out the match or lighter. If the wick doesn’t light right away, you may need to trim it so it’s fresh.

For candles in jars or containers, angle the lighter or match alongside the wick instead of directly above it. This allows you to reach the wick while lighting it. You can also use a long fireplace match or a bamboo skewer to help light hard to reach wicks.

Some key things to remember when lighting candles:

Letting the Candle Pool

Allowing the melted wax to pool before blowing out the candle is an important step that improves overall burn quality. According to The Candle Review, you should wait 30-60 minutes after lighting before extinguishing the flame. This allows time for an even wax pool to form across the top of the candle.

As the candle burns, the wax melts and forms a liquid pool. Letting this wax pool completely before blowing out the flame allows for better scent throw and more complete use of the candle wax. According to The Melt Co., a larger wax pool enables more surface area for fragrance to be released from the liquid wax. Extinguishing the candle too soon can lead to an uneven melt pool and tunneling issues on future burns.

So be patient – wait for that perfect wax pool before blowing out. Your candle will thank you with better performance and fragrance on the next light.

Blowing Out the Flame

When it’s time to extinguish the candle, the gentlest method is blowing directly at the flame. As The Cut explains, blowing too forcefully can cause smoke which leaves an unpleasant odor. Instead, purse your lips and blow a steady, gentle stream of air directly at the flame. This focused airflow should extinguish the flame without causing excess smoke.

If the flame flickers but doesn’t fully extinguish, avoid taking another forceful puff which could blow embers around. Rather, pause for a moment and then gently blow again directly at the flame. Taking this patient approach usually requires only a couple gentle puffs to fully extinguish the candle.

Candle Safety Tips

When burning candles, it’s important to keep safety in mind to prevent fires or accidents. Here are some key candle safety tips to follow:

Keep candles away from flammable items. Never place candles near curtains, blankets, paper, books, trees, or anything else that can easily catch fire. Maintain a 12 inch circle of safety around the candle free from combustible materials.

Always supervise burning candles. Never leave a burning candle unattended. Blow out all candles before leaving a room or going to sleep.

Use sturdy, noncombustible candle holders. Candles should be placed in holders made of nonflammable materials like glass, metal or ceramic. Avoid holders made of paper, plastic or wood which can overheat and ignite.

Trim candle wicks before lighting. Long or untrimmed wicks can cause uneven burning, dripping wax, and smoking. Use wick trimmers or scissors to trim wicks to 1⁄4 inch before lighting.

Maintaining Your Candle

Properly caring for your candle will help extend its life and keep it looking beautiful. Here are some tips for maintaining your candle when it’s not in use:

Store the candle in a cool, dry place like a cupboard or drawer when not burning it. Keeping it covered with a snug-fitting lid can help prevent dust and debris from collecting on the wax. According to The White Company’s Candle Care Guide, avoid places with extreme temperatures to prevent melting or cracking of the wax.1

Occasionally use a soft cloth to gently dust off any black soot that accumulates on the candle holder or around the wick. Allowing soot to build up can hinder proper burning. Go easy when dusting to avoid scratching the candle’s surface.

Avoid burning a candle for longer than the recommended time, which is generally 1.5-2 hours for a regular sized candle. Burning too long can cause ‘tunneling’, where wax melts unevenly and concentrates heat on one spot rather than dispersing it evenly. This shortens the candle’s burn time. According to Real Simple, periodically trim leftover wick with tweezers to remove any extra debris and promote an even burn.2


In summary, perfectly lighting a candle requires careful selection of the right candle and holder, proper preparation of the wick, safe lighting technique, allowing the wax to pool before extinguishing, and adherence to basic safety precautions. Taking the time to follow these simple steps allows you to fully experience a candle’s fragrance and ambiance.

Lighting a candle correctly maximizes its burn time and scent dispersion. It also reduces the risk of tunneling, sooting, and other issues that can arise from poor lighting methods. Perhaps most importantly, proper candle lighting helps ensure safety by mitigating risks like tipping and wild flaming that can occur when candles are lit carelessly.

Candle lighting can be an art as well as a science. Mastering the key steps allows you to safely enjoy all the beauty, fragrance, and warm ambiance a perfect candle provides.

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