How Long Does It Take To Burn The First Layer Of A Candle?

This article will provide a comprehensive overview of how long it takes to burn the first layer of wax on a candle. We will cover what the first layer is called, the different factors that impact burn time such as wick type, wax type, candle diameter, and room temperature. After explaining how each of these components affects burn rate, we will provide estimates for typical burn times of the first wax layer based on common candle sizes and types. The goal is to give candle enthusiasts useful guidelines to achieve ideal first burns.

What is the first layer of wax called?

The very top layer of wax on a candle is called the bloom or crust. This is the first layer that melts away when the candle is initially lit. The bloom forms as the wax cools after the candle is poured and shaped. As the hot liquid wax begins to cool and harden, oils and additives rise up and crystallize on the surface, creating a thin brittle layer on top.

Candle makers may also apply additional coatings to produce an appealing smooth or textured finish on the candle surface. But underneath any cosmetic exterior layers lies the naturally formed bloom that is an integral part of the candle wax itself. This first layer serves as the initial fuel source when the candle is burned.

Factors that affect burn time

There are several key factors that impact how quickly a candle burns, including:1

Wick type

The wick is essentially the candle’s fuel delivery system, so the thickness and material affects the rate of burning. Larger wicks typically burn faster because they allow more wax to travel up and combust.2

Wax type

Harder waxes like paraffin burn slower than softer waxes like soy or beeswax. The density and melt point of the wax impacts the rate it liquefies and travels up the wick.1

Candle diameter

Larger diameter candles have more surface area exposed to oxygen, allowing more wax to melt and burn. Smaller candles generally last longer per ounce of wax.2

Room temperature

Warmer environments soften wax more quickly so it burns faster. Cooler temps slow the melt rate down.1

Recommended First Burn

Most manufacturers recommend letting the candle burn for 1-2 hours the first time to fully melt the top layer and help the candle burn evenly after. According to the National Candle Association, you should allow the wax pool to melt all the way to the edges on the first burn to achieve an ideal melt pool for future burns (source). This initial longer burn time allows the entire top layer of wax to liquefy and adhere to the sides of the container. Once the first layer has properly melted, the candle can be extinguished and allowed to cool. Subsequent burns only need to last 1 hour per inch of container diameter to maintain an even melt pool.

How wick affects burn time

The thickness and type of wick has a big impact on how quickly a candle burns. As a general rule, thicker wicks tend to burn faster than thinner wicks. This is because a thicker wick is able to draw up more melted wax via capillary action, providing more fuel for the flame (

In addition, braided or flat wicks, which have more surface area, tend to burn slower than single strand round wicks. The tightly woven fibers of a braided wick don’t allow wax to travel up as quickly. Therefore, braided wicks provide a lower, cooler flame compared to an single strand wick of the same thickness (

So in summary, thicker wicks and single strand wicks allow more fuel to reach the flame at a faster rate, resulting in a faster burn time. Thinner, braided wicks restrict wax flow, slowing down the burn.

How wax type affects burn time

The type of wax used in a candle affects how long it will burn. Softer waxes like soy wax burn faster than harder waxes like paraffin. This is because softer waxes melt at lower temperatures. Soy wax melts between 113-127°F, while paraffin melts at around 130°F. The harder the wax, the higher its melting point and the slower it will melt and burn.

softer waxes burning faster than harder waxes

Of all candle waxes, beeswax burns the slowest and longest. Its high melting point of 144-149°F means it melts slowly as the candle burns. The harder structure also means less wax is consumed per hour. Beeswax candles can burn for up to 150 hours, while soy and paraffin candles burn for around 60-80 hours.

How diameter affects burn time

Smaller diameter candles burn faster than wider candles because more of the wax is directly heated at once. As this source explains, “The table below indicates suggested minimum burn times based on candle diameter. There are a great number of environmental variables that affect the rate of burn, but the size of the candle is the primary factor.”

Specifically, a 1-inch diameter candle may burn for around 5 hours, while a 3-inch diameter candle could burn for up to 20 hours. This is because a wider candle has more total wax mass, so it takes longer for the heat to melt through the entire candle. The smaller the diameter, the less wax is present, and the quicker it will melt and burn through.

To summarize, opt for a wider diameter candle if you want it to burn longer without having to relight it as frequently. Just be mindful of proper burning practices for safety. But in general, a fatter candle will equal a slower burn time.

How room temperature affects burn time

Room temperature has a significant effect on how quickly a candle burns. Specifically, warmer room temperatures cause candles to burn faster, while cooler temperatures slow down the burn time. Studies have shown that in ambient temperatures above 70°F, candles tend to burn faster and the wax melts and pools more quickly. In contrast, in cooler room temps around 60°F or below, the wax burns slower since it stays firmer and denser. The effect is especially noticeable in very cold environments like an unheated garage in winter.

The reason warmer temperatures speed up burn time is because heat softens wax. Softer, more liquid wax vaporizes faster to release the fuel that sustains the flame. Cooler wax that remains thicker and more solid vaporizes slower. In summary, the hotter the room, the faster the candle burn. For slowest burn times, keep candles in the coolest area of the room.

Typical burn time for first layer

With average materials and conditions, the first layer of wax in a candle – also called the top layer or top melt pool – usually burns within 1-3 hours for most standard sized candles. This top layer of wax helps anchor the wick as it burns and forms a melted wax pool that fuels the rest of the candle.

According to candle experts, a good rule of thumb is to allow 1-2 hours of burn time per inch of candle diameter on the first burn to fully melt the first wax layer. For example, a 2-inch diameter pillar candle would need 2-4 hours for that first layer to melt on the initial burn.

However, several factors impact burn times, like wick size, wax type and quality, room temperature, drafts and more. Container candles in glass jars or tins tend to burn through the first layer faster than freestanding pillar candles. But in general, allowing 1-3 hours for that initial melt pool to form ensures proper wax liquefaction and wick anchoring to promote the best performance.



Burning the first layer of a candle is a key part of the candle’s life. There are several factors that affect how long it takes for this first layer, known as the wax pool, to melt:

  • Wick – A larger wick will burn hotter and faster.
  • Wax Type – Softer waxes like soy melt quicker than harder waxes like paraffin.
  • Diameter – Wider candles have more surface area and melt faster.
  • Room Temperature – Warmer environments make wax melt quicker.

For most standard candles, the first layer can take 1-4 hours to burn depending on these variables. Burning the wax pool evenly and completely is important to get the candle off to a good start. Now that you know what impacts burn time, you can better plan your first burn to avoid issues like tunneling.

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