When burning candles, you don’t want to see a high flame. When making candles, testing is possibly the most important step.
Candle flames can become high due to problems with how it was manufactured. But more commonly, high candle flames are the result of poor candle maintenance.
Read on to learn the cause of high candle flames, why you want to avoid high flames, and how to know when your candle is burning properly.
What Causes a High Candle Flame?
There are a number of reasons why a candle flame can become too high. A few of those reasons are out of your control. Let’s explore the causes of high candle flames.
Drafts or Vents
If your candle is burning near an open window on a windy day, or underneath your home’s ventilation system, then it’s possible for your flame to begin to burn faster.
As it burns faster, it can also begin to flicker. These factors can throw the burning process out of whack. And an abrupt higher temperature can lead to uneven burning. The flame can grow too large and burn more quickly than intended.
An Untrimmed Wick
When a wick isn’t trimmed down to ¼ inch prior to relighting, this can cause flare up. If the flame isn’t extinguished upon noticing flare up, the flame continues to grow larger and larger because a long wick adds fuel to the fire.
The same holds true for any debris that might be left on top of the candle wax. So when you trim the wick, make sure to do it after the wick has completely cooled and wax has hardened. This way you can clip the wick and toss it out right away instead of having to fish for it inside melted or softened wax. That process gets messy and frustrating.
Not Following Instructions
Most candles should not burn for longer than four hour intervals. Minimum and maximum burn times are longer for larger containers.
Proper burn times are likely indicated on the label located on the bottom of your candle. You may have to read the outer packaging or an instruction card placed inside the candle packaging.
Wherever these instructions are located, you should definitely read them prior to lighting your candle.
If you leave your candle lit for longer than it was designed to be, then that can create dangerously high flames due to mushrooming. When a wick mushrooms, it produces an excessive amount of soot that builds upon the wick.
Wick is Too Large
This reason has less to do with you – unless you’re the one making the candle. If you’re making candles for yourself or others, then candle testing is probably the most important part of the process.
Even if you buy candle supplies that are supposed to work a certain way under specific conditions, you still have to test how your candles burn. Container size, wick width, fragrance oils, all of these factor into how well your candle will burn.
If the wick is too narrow, then the candle may not pool properly. Wax might not melt all the way to the edges. But if the wick is too large, then the flame generates too much heat. An oversized wick can cause the flame to get out of control and grow too large.
In case you were wondering, wooden wicks can also be too large. In this scenario, a wooden wick can be too wide for your jar if the candle flame is high. So, candle testing is essential no matter what kind of wick you use.
Poor Wax and Wick Combination
Another example related to making candles is ensuring you match your wick with a compatible wax.
Heated wicks cause wax to melt. Then they absorb the melted wax, pull the wax upwards, and then the wax evaporates. Melting points vary by wax type. So it’s important to find a wick that best absorbs the kind of wax you’re using to make a candle.
Too Much Fragrance Oil
This last example is also related to making candles. When purchasing candle wax, manufacturers indicate the maximum fragrance load that that wax can handle. It’s usually around 10% but can go as high as 13%. It’s best to stay within the set range, otherwise, the oils can add more fuel, contributing to a high flame.
Is a High Candle Flame All That Bad?
You may wonder if a high flame is even an issue. There was definitely a time when I didn’t know how to properly burn candles. I didn’t trim the wick regularly, and it led to high smoking flames. Here are four reasons why you don’t want a high candle flame:
A high flame produces more heat. If the wall of your container isn’t thick enough, it could crack when there’s a high flame.
You might be able to safely transfer the candle wax to a different container. But it’s likely that you’ll have to remove wax from the surface below before re-wicking the candle and transferring the wax.
Either way, a cracked container is a safety issue. But know that moderate and expensive candles are heat-tempered, so this is unlikely to happen with them. If you are burning an inexpensive candle made with inferior materials, you’d want to monitor the flame even more than usual.
A high flame can get out of control. You’ve probably noticed a high flame rapidly moving around. It can almost appear to be dancing. But because the flame is so jumpy, its potential for starting a fire is far greater.
If there’s anything flammable nearby, this could pose even more of a fire hazard.
Reduces Burn Time
When a flame is high, it will more quickly burn the wax and fragrance oils. A quick burn leads to significantly shorter burn time.
Instead of a slow-burning candle that burns for 70 hours, you may only get a total of 35 hours out of the same candle when the flame burns too hot. Some candles are way too expensive to miss out on every hour of intended burn time.
Watching billows of black smoke rising from your candle is simply unattractive. We light scented candles for ambiance, relaxation, meditation, you know, calming activities. A high, jumpy flame that produces black smoke doesn’t contribute to a serene atmosphere.
The smell of excess smoke also overpowers your candle fragrance which does not make for a pleasant experience.
What Is The Ideal Candle Flame Height?
Some flames can be steady and long, so how do you know when your candle flame is too high?
Ideal candle flames are identified as having an elongated oval or teardrop shape. But how long is elongated? In my experience, a flame that’s higher than 1 inch (2.54 cm) to 2 inches (5.08 cm) might be too high.
Of course, you’ll have to decide for yourself, but I don’t think it’ll be difficult. When flames are too high, they also tend to either flicker or produce an excess amount of smoke. If you notice either of these two things happening, then you’ll know that your flame is too high.
The goal is to have a calm, steady flame. Larger candles might have a high flame because the wick has to be larger to accommodate the container size. Depending on what else you observe about the flame, this may not be a problem.
You can always contact the candle manufacturer if you are unsure whether your candle is burning properly. Safety first!
Troubleshoot the possible reasons for the high flame before reigniting it. If it’s something you can fix, then great. But if you know that you are properly burning the candle and notice that its flame continues to grow too high, then you’ll want to notify the company that made the candle.