Candle Maintenance: How to Get the Most out of your Candle - Pier 1


We all have that one fragrance we absolutely love the most, can't live without...don’t you wish it could last forever? (Us too!) But, we can’t give you forever so here’s the next best thing: 7 key tips and tricks to keep your favorite scents filling up your home for as long as possible!

Safety First! 

To enjoy your candles to the fullest, keep fire prevention in mind.

  • Never, ever leave a candle unattended or out of sight.
  • Keep candles out of reach of children and pets.
  • Avoid displaying on bookshelves, under cabinets or any spot where a candle is at risk of being knocked over.
  • Remove all packaging and decoration before igniting a candle.
  • Read all use and safety instructions.
  • Always burn your candle in a well-ventilated space and about 65-75° room on a heat-resistant surface, and/or use an appropriate candle holder.
  • Candle users or not, everyone needs a home fire safety plan that includes a fire extinguisher and other fire safety equipment.

Initial burn 101: Train that flame

Your candle has a built-in memory, so it’s important to light it right from the very beginning. Here’s the proper way to burn a candle:

  • Plan ahead. About three hours of first burn time (two for votives) is needed to ensure your candle pools successfully. You want the flame to create an even distribution of melted wax across the candle’s circumference as a basis for optimal future burns.
  • Before relighting your candle, allow it to cool completely (average is two hours) and repeat the process above.
  • Key takeaway: For maximum performance of filled candles, allow the melted wax pool to reach the sides of the container during the first burn cycles. This will prevent tunneling, where wax on the sides of the container is not consumed.

Once you’ve perfected the first flame here’s how to keep it lively: 

Keep it away from wind/drafts.

  • Avoid vents, drafts, fans or open windows that could blow curtains, paper, etc. into the flame’s path and cause a fire. This will also help prevent uneven burning or smoking.
  • Seeing uneven burning, smoking, or flare-ups? Those are tell-tale signs of a draft. Find another safer place for your candle.

Burn Time

  • Never burn a candle longer than recommended.
  • It’s recommended to burn candles in 2 to 3 hour increments. Generally, do not burn a candle for more than 4 hours at a time. After 4 hours, the candle gets too hot and begins evaporating fragrance oil and burning off faster. 

Trim the Wick

  • Trim the candle wick to ¼” before every lighting to promote a strong and steady burn. Use a sharp wick trimmer, scissors or nail clippers, and always remove any debris from the wax pool. Lasting candles require mindful maintenance.
  • Good news: Properly trimmed candle wicks prevent tunneling. That’s the term used when the wick is surrounded by a tunnel or moat-like effect due to faulty wax pooling. Once tunneling sets in, it affects all subsequent burns. Think of it as candle kryptonite.


  • Never touch or move a burning candle. When wax is liquid, containers and holders will be very hot and spilled liquid will cause burns.


  • Extinguish a candle if the flame comes too close to the container or holder to avoid risk of breakage.
  • If wax pools on pillar candles approach the edge, extinguish the flame, allow wax to harden (most candles need two hours) and relight later.
  • Straightening the wick with tweezers or a wick snuffer after blowing out the candle also helps prevent the dreaded tunneling.

Know When to Quit

  • Most fire safety sources agree: When your candle’s wax is down to ½” wax, it’s time to part ways.
  • Attempting to burn the wax beyond the ½” mark creates the risk of heat damage to the candle’s holder and/or counter/surface.
  • After the empty candle has thoroughly cooled for the last time, the metal wick holder should be easy to pop out.
  • To remove leftover wax, place the cooled container in the freezer for a couple of hours. After the wax releases, wipe the container clean with a paper towel.
  • Get creative and recycle your container as a vase, a new place to store your makeup brushes, pencil holder, planter or other fun idea. If you do, tag @Pier1 on Instagram or use the hashtag #pier1love to show us your creative candle re-use. We’re always looking for fun ways to be sustainable. 

    Tips and Tricks:

    • Leave at least three inches between burning candles in a multiple-candle holder.
    A word about warmers: Candle warmer plates and lamps work by melting jar candles instead of burning them. While the scent may be more intense at first, subsequent lightings reduce the fragrance significantly. Your investment erodes as unscented wax remains unburned in the container. To deliver the best results and value, Pier 1 does not endorse candle warmers. Since our candles feature a wick that uses wax as fuel, you get a more even, longer-lasting burn with more hours to enjoy your favorite fragrance.


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