No matter the season, lighting a scented candle at home is one of life’s great pleasures. The experience of evocative fragrance and a soft ambience is unbeatable. But what happens if your candle wick is too short to light?

There’s no need to throw it away, we’ve got every fix you’ll need to save your favourite candle. 

Why is your candle wick too short?

There are a few reasons why your candle wick could get too short to light. Some are within your control, while sometimes it could be down to the manufacture of the product. 

Sometimes user errors can cause a wick to get too short. These could be:

  • Not trimming your wick. If you don’t maintain it properly, then the wick can “mushroom”, causing it to burn unevenly. This is where the wick absorbs the melted wax, and creates a buildup of carbon at the top that resembles a black “mushroom”.
  • Trimming your wick too short can also cause you problems, but if that happens don’t worry! We’ve got the fix for you later in this feature.
  • Your candle “tunnelled” during the burn. This happens when only a small area of wax near the wick burns downwards, creating a tunnel. The deeper the tunnel, the more likely your wick is to get buried. You can read more about fixing candle tunnelling here.  

If tunnelling is at fault, it probably means your candle was made poorly. It's possible that your candle has the wrong number of wicks for its size, or was not created for the wax to fully consume. This can cause a number of issues.

  • The size of your wick compared to the wax. A short candle wick causes a faster burn when lit, where your wick begins to “drown” in the wax. Once the wax cools and hardens, the wick can be too short to light, or buried under the top layer of your candle.
  • Your candle may have arrived with a buried wick. This can be a problem during hotter months where your wax melts during delivery or transit. The longer it’s left in that condition, the more likely your wick will bury itself or get too short to be lit.
  • Big temperature changes during cold months can cause the wax to expand and contract. This stops your candle from being lit properly due to the wick length.

How to prevent a short candle wick

Promoting an even burn is key if you’re trying to prevent a short candle wick. So when you light the wick, make sure it burns for long enough to melt the top layer of wax on your candle. This prevents tunnelling and a short wick from forming. 

Trimming the wick to ½ cm after every burn will also help your candle in the long run. If you don’t trim it, the next time you light the candle you’re more likely to create a mushroom!

How to fix a short candle wick

There are three methods for fixing a short candle wick, and these entirely depend on whether you can still light your candle. 

Firstly, light the candle if you still can. Let the candle burn for up to 30 minutes while keeping an eye on it the whole time. If the wick doesn’t burn properly for that time, and the wick is flickering then you should snuff it out and try again. 

Soak up the excess wax with a paper towel as it cools so you can relight the wick and leave it to burn. Repeat this process until the top layer of wax is completely melted, before snuffing out your candle and letting the wax cool around your wick. 

If you can’t light your wick, use a heat gun or hair dryer to melt the wax around it. Get rid of the wax using a paper towel, or pour the wax into a dish. You could also scoop the melted wax out with a spoon or butter knife. Once you’ve exposed the wick, light it using the same method as above. 

For a wick that’s become completely buried, this could be down to the wick being long enough, but has become bent while the wax has cooled above it. Melt the wax using a heat gun, hair dryer or long lighter, then lift the wick carefully with tweezers. 

As the candle begins to cool, you should hold the wick in place until the wax hardens. Once the wax has completely cooled, trim the wick to ½ cm to stop it from burying again. 

For more tips on fixing your candle issues, read our candle tunnelling blog here, and our feature on flickering candles here.

Josh Millar