Are You Supposed To Light All 3 Wicks? (and why)

Three-wick candles provide a certain amount of elegance to a room. Not only do they look wonderful, but they smell strong enough to make the entire room smell pleasant. Three-wick candles do burn rather quickly when you light all 3 wicks, though. Which led me to wonder if you’re supposed to light all 3 wicks?

Three-wick candles are specifically designed to have all three wicks lit at once. This is why they are larger and flatter. The heat distributes evenly across the candle, slowly burning the wax at an even rate, unlike one wick candles.

That does not mean that you have to light all 3 wicks, or even that you always should. How you choose to use your 3-wick candle depends on what you would like, and you have plenty of options and benefits to keep in mind. 

Let us figure out how to burn 3-wick candles correctly.

Are You Supposed To Light All 3 Wicks

Why Do Candles Have 3 Wicks?

Picking up a candle lighter to light all 3 wicks without burning yourself might seem like a hassle, but there is a purpose behind candles having three wicks. The first is that the even heat distribution makes them last longer, and not just because these candles are usually larger. The heat does not go straight through the middle, as it does with a single wick candle. Instead, it burns all the wax.

Most people assume that if you light all 3 wicks, the candle will burn faster due to their being three heat sources. However, this is not true. The heat reaches all the way to the edges of the candle, which makes it burn longer than a single wick candle would.

Also, a three-wick candle has more wax. These candles have to be larger to accommodate the extra wicks, so it all balances out.

Should You Light All Three Wicks At Once?

There is no law that states you have to light one or three wicks. You can even light two if you would like. How many wicks you choose to light should depend on what you want out of the candle. There are key benefits to lighting just one of the three wicks, as there are to lighting all three at once.

Lighting All 3 Gives A Burst Of Scent

If you would like to use your 3-wick candle to fill the house with a fresh aroma, lighting all 3 wicks at once is the way to go. This will help the candle burn more wax at once, resulting in a stronger scent. If you are attempting to cover up an odor or make your house smell fresh before the family comes over, light them all.

Lighting One Wick Will Make The Candle Last Longer

Lighting one wick at a time will make your candle last three times as long as it normally would. Most people avoid this to prevent the uneven heat distribution, which results in half the wax being burned at a time, but you can get around this. If you choose to light one wick at a time, rotate the wick that you light each time so that a portion of the wax burns all the way around the candle.

Ambient Light

Ambient light is something to consider when lighting candles. Lighting three wicks at a time will create more light and add more warmth to the room. Lighting one wick still provides a certain amount of ambient light, but it is limited. Consider how much light you would like when deciding whether to light one or three wicks.

Lighting One Can Result In Uneven Burning

Sometimes, depending on the candle, it doesn’t matter if you alternate wicks when lighting one at a time. You will still see uneven burning. Candles may not burn evenly, or they may crater in the center resulting in a dip in the middle that looks less than appealing. There are several ways to solve this, however.

Melt Wax In Uneven Areas

To give your candle a smooth, even appearance, simply melt the wax that is not in the crater. Using a candle-lighter (standard lighters will get too hot), place the flame to the wax that is too tall. Then, as the wax melts, pour it into the trash. Do this around the entire candle until it has an even appearance.

Cut Out The Wax

If the wax is significantly taller in some areas than others, it can take quite a while to burn it with a lighter. Instead, cut the taller wax with a knife. If you’re not a fan of using a sharp knife, a butter knife or spoon will also work wonderfully. Then, discard the excess wax. If the wax still appears jagged in certain areas, burn it with a lighter as described above.

Burn It Evenly Each Time

Wax tends to have a memory of its own. If it starts out tunneling down the middle of one particular side, it will continue to do so. This is why the first burn is so important. If your candle gets used to burning unevenly, it will continue to do so.

Instead, make sure that your candle burns evenly every time. There are several tips that you need to follow to do this.

Light All 3 Wicks

While there are certain benefits to lighting one wick at a time, it will not encourage even burning. If you are concerned with the appearance of uneven burning, light all three wicks to avoid it altogether.

Avoid Sources of Wind

The wind, even the smallest drafts can result in uneven burning. This is because it can blow out one wick and you might not notice. This is common when people use large candles outdoors. Also, it can result in one wick-burning a bit stronger than the other two, which will make it burn more wax in that particular area of the candle. Avoid fans, air conditioners, and other sources of a draft when burning your candles.

Trim The Wicks

Even if you choose to burn all 3 wicks at the same time, some may wind up burning differently than others. This can result in one wick being longer or shorter than the others. The longer the wick is, the stronger it will burn. The end result is an uneven burning. Trimming the wicks can easily prevent this.

To trim the wicks, cut off the black pieces at the end of the wick. Then, make sure that each wick is the same size after trimming. Most people can look at the wicks to tell. If not, a standard tape measure can help you identify the longer and shorter wicks.

The First Burn Is Very Important

Because wax will continue to burn the same way, the first burn is very important. First, make sure to light all three candles and follow the tips above to ensure that the candle has a chance to burn evenly. This includes trimming the wicks before burning the candle.

Then, make sure to only burn your candle for four hours. This gives the candle time to burn and ensures that there is ample time for the wax towards the edges of the candle to burn, preventing tunneling in the future.

While it is not necessary to burn all three wicks at the same time, it is important to burn the candle correctly if you would like to prevent an uneven appearance.

Grace Young

I love candles! I have personally tried over 100 brands of candles. The total burn time of these candles is over 5000 hours. I also talk about essential oil diffusers and reed diffusers. Essential oil diffusers and diffusers are also an important part of the scent in my home.

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