Fiona Thurlow is the creator of Piper and Grace, a company creating soy wax candles, that started in 2013 from a love of creating amazing candles for family and friends. Fiona is IIHS’s resident candle expert, and, as candles are such a key part of staging a home, creating a warm and intriguing atmosphere, we thought it was important to see what advice Fiona could provide on effectively caring for our candles and getting the best use out of the candles.
I’m a candle nerd, there, I said it!
Yes, I love candles and I love the science behind what makes a candle burn well and what does not. Not all candles are the same and I would confidently say that if you have experimented with different brands, you would most likely already know this. Without the proper care before, during and after burning, your beautiful candles will not last the distance. That is a fact. The last thing we need is to have a candle in a beautiful glass that just will not burn the right way anymore and you have to throw it, no one wants that!
Here are my top tips for getting the most out of your candle. Every. Single. Time.
Trim the wick of your candle to 5mm before every burn. This prevents a ‘smoking’ wick. If your wick starts to mushroom (form a head on the stem), it means there is a build-up of carbon. Simply extinguish the flame, trim the wick and relight your candle. If this does happen, you may find that you have a carbon film on the glass which is easily cleaned when the candle container has cooled down, just wipe with a damp cloth or paper towel.
Always burn your candle within sight. Place the candle on a level, heat-resistance surface. Do not burn near flammable materials, draughts, children or pets. This is very important, especially if they may be burnt during an open for inspection at a property you may have staged. Safety first. Always.
Melt the wax to the edge every time. The first burn is the most important. Ensure the wax melts to the edge of the glass every time you burn your candle. This will ensure all future burns are clean and will avoid tunnelling in your wax. Again, a very important point for an open for inspection! At Piper and Grace our candles will burn to the edge of the glass in a period of around 1 hour (depending on weather conditions). You may need to consider this if they are going to be lit for any open homes. If they are not burnt for a long enough time, you will find that the next burn will only extend as far as the previous burn, therefore never reaching the edge of the glass and burning in a tunnel down the middle of the candle.
Burn your candle for 1-3 hours to maximise fragrance. The ideal time to burn a candle is 1-3 hours to optimise the fragrance throw. Avoid burning your candle for more than 4 hours at a time.
Avoid extreme heat or cold. Do not store candles in the freezer and never leave them in a hot car.
Extinguish your candle before the liquid gets too deep. When the wax liquefies to approximately 12-15mm, extinguish the flame and allow it to re-solidify. Then, trim the wicks prior to relighting. This will prevent your wicks from falling over, which makes it difficult to trim and then light again for your next burn. More importantly though, if the wick does fall over, it can overheat the glass, which can lead to cracking or shattering.
Don’t light a candle with less than 5mm wax. Discontinue burning the candle when there is 5mm of wax at the bottom of the jar. Glass is vulnerable to heat and could crack or break when there isn’t enough wax to absorb the heat.
Extinguish your candle safely. When you have finished burning your candle, ensure that they are extinguished safely by either dipping the wick into the wax before trimming, or just by blowing out. Blowing out may cause a small amount of smoke from the wick, so make sure that you are not too close to the glass. Never extinguish your candle by putting the lid back on the glass while it is still burning.
My top candle care tips relate to container candles, like our beautiful soy wax candles at Piper and Grace.
Make sure you check out Piper and Grace and the amazing candle range available!