Causes and Signs of Candle Tunneling

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In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, candles also add a nice smell and a calming atmosphere to our living spaces. Have you ever noticed, though, that occasionally candles burn down the middle, producing a shape resembling a tunnel? Candle tunnelling is a phenomena that can have an impact on the candle’s overall burning quality and lifespan. In this post, we’ll look at candle tunnelling’s causes and symptoms as well as offer some prevention advice.

Causes and Signs of Candle Tunneling

Many candle aficionados deal with the problem of candle tunnelling on a regular basis. You can maximise the burn time and effectiveness of your candles by being aware of the causes and symptoms of tunnelling. Let’s explore this issue in greater detail and shed some light on how you can stop it from happening.

What is Candle Tunneling?

Candle tunnelling is the process of creating a hollow, tunnel-like chamber in the middle of a candle while leaving a sizable portion of unburned wax around the candle’s edges. The candle produces a tunnel rather than burning evenly from edge to edge, wasting wax and shortening the burn time.

Causes of Candle Tunneling

Here I am going to share with you the causes of Candle Tunneling!

Poor Wick Placement

Improper wick placement is one of the main reasons of candle tunnelling. An uneven burn may result from the wick being off-center or too close to the container’s walls. Due to this mismatch, the heat cannot reach the candle’s outside edges, which results in tunnelling.

Poor wick placement is when the candle’s wick is placed inside the container incorrectly. An uneven burn may occur if the wick is not centered or is positioned too close to the container’s sidewalls. Because of the flame’s concentrated heat in the centre, the wax there melts, forming a cavity that resembles a tunnel. At the same time, the wax close to the container’s sides is still unburned. Candle tunnelling is the name given to this occurrence.

The wick’s improper location hinders the heat from dispersing evenly across the candle’s whole surface area. Tunnelling results because the wax does not melt evenly. Not only does it result in lost wax, but it also shortens the candle’s overall burn time and degrades its performance. In order for the candle to burn more evenly, achieve its full potential, and deliver a more satisfying and enduring experience, the location of the wick is essential.

Low-Quality Wax

The performance of the candle’s burn is significantly influenced by the quality of the wax used in it. Wax of lower grade frequently has additives or contaminants that prevent heat from being distributed evenly. Due to the wax’s imperfections, which cause it to melt at varying rates and leave unburned wax along the sides, tunnelling may result.

Drafty Environment

Candles are sensitive to air currents, and a drafty environment can disrupt the combustion process. When exposed to drafts, candles may burn unevenly, causing tunnelling. Drafts can be caused by open windows, fans, air conditioning, or even high-traffic areas where there is a constant flow of air.

Signs of Candle Tunneling

To identify whether your candle is experiencing tunnelling, watch out for the following signs:

Uneven Wax Pool

If you notice that the wax pool is uneven, with a deep hole in the center and wax remaining on the sides of the container, it is a clear indication of tunnelling. The wick may struggle to reach the outer edges, resulting in wasted wax and a shorter burn time.

Extinguished Wick

A candle affected by tunnelling may have a wick that repeatedly extinguishes itself, especially if the wick has been buried beneath a layer of unburned wax. The lack of oxygen and proper airflow can suffocate the flame, making it difficult for the candle to stay lit.

Wax Build-Up

As tunnelling progresses, layers of unburned wax can accumulate along the sides of the container. This build-up can prevent the wick from reaching the outer edges and hinder the overall burn performance of the candle.

How to Prevent Candle Tunneling

Preventing candle tunnelling requires a proactive approach. By following these simple tips, you can enjoy a more even burn and prolong the life of your candles:

Proper Wick Trimming

Before lighting a candle, ensure that the wick is trimmed to an appropriate length, usually around ¼ inch. A longer wick can create excessive heat, leading to faster tunnelling. Regularly trim the wick between burns to maintain an optimal length.

Initial Long Burn

During the first burn of a new candle, allow it to burn long enough for the wax pool to reach the outer edges of the container. This process helps establish a “memory burn” and prevents the formation of a tunnel. Ideally, let the candle burn for one hour per inch in diameter.

Avoid Drafty Areas

Place your candles away from areas with drafts to ensure a consistent burn. Avoid windows, air vents, and high-traffic areas where air currents are common. This precautionary measure will help maintain an even temperature around the candle, reducing the risk of tunnelling.


Candle tunnelling can be frustrating, but understanding its causes and signs empowers you to take preventive measures. By ensuring proper wick placement, using high-quality wax, and creating a draft-free environment, you can minimize tunnelling and maximize the enjoyment of your candles.


Can I fix a candle that is already tunneling?

Yes, you can fix a tunneling candle by gently melting the excess wax around the edges using a hairdryer or a heat gun. This process helps even out the wax pool and allows for a more uniform burn in future uses.

Are all candles prone to tunneling?

No, not all candles are prone to tunneling. Properly made and maintained candles are less likely to tunnel. Choosing high-quality candles and following the recommended burning practices can significantly reduce the risk.

Can I repurpose the leftover wax from a tunneling candle?

Absolutely! You can repurpose the leftover wax by melting it down and creating new candles or using it in wax warmers or melts.

Should I always burn candles until the wax pool reaches the edges?

While it is recommended to allow the wax pool to reach the edges during the initial burn, subsequent burns should also have a sufficiently wide wax pool to prevent tunneling. Aim for an even burn each time you light the candle.

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