Why Should You Trim Your Candle Wicks? (Explained for Beginners)

Candles are a world-wide favored item for creating beautiful scents and perfect lighting! They are great for creating an atmosphere in a room or for use in an emergency power outage. However, they are a home decor that does need a little bit of maintenance.

Sure, we can light them and set them somewhere safe, but that isn’t where the care for candles should end! In fact, the most important aspect of a candle is its wick! The wick serves as the means in which to provide light and melt the wax to release the scents within the wax.

Proper care of a candle includes trimming candle wicks. To answer the question of “Why should you trim your candle wicks?”, the main reasoning behind wick trimming helps reduce the amount of soot that forms. This soot has science behind it, and trimming wicks keeps all the science in check. Wicks should be trimmed anywhere between 1/4in to 1/8in before each lighting of the candle.

So what’s the science behind the soot? Why is it important? There is so much to burning a candle and lighting its wick than putting a lighter to it. The reaction that caused that creates the flame is very critical. The soot, or blackish smoke that can result from a wick, is due to the wick having too much wax vapor and enough oxygen.

These two combined create a system where the flame consumes any soot, preventing it from escaping into the air. As candlewick burns, the inner part of the flame is where any wax vapor is broken down.

Read more about Why Does My Candle Have Black Smoke.

Why Should You Trim Your Candle Wicks

It is amazing how science lays within a wick on a candle. This makes candles even more interesting than they already are. We tend to just light them and go about our day without any second thought as what goes into the process.

Keeping the wicks trimmed ensures that the science stays true and holds strong with each and every burn. Moreover, it helps ensure that the burn of the candle is as “clean” as possible without excess soot escaping.

How to Trim a Wick on a Candle

Knowing the reasons behind why should you trim your candle wicks are important. However, so is understanding the process behind actually trimming the wicks! Trimming wicks does not have to be complicated.

In fact, it is super easy! Maintaining the wick not only helps the science but can help extend the life of the candle as well. Below are some tips for trimming a wick on a candle!

Tips for Trimming Candle Wicks

1. Always Use a Sturdy Surface

This might come off as common sense, however, common sense is built-up by repetition! Sure, the candle should already be on a sturdy surface as that is the safest way to use a candle. When trimming a wick, it may be necessary to move the candle to a surface where we are not bending over to try trimming the wick.

We want the candle and its wick to be more eye-level while we trim. Kitchen islands are a great height to use as well as some fireplace mantles. Kitchen islands, or counters even, are designed to be high enough to see while doing food prep. Fireplace mantles are generally chest height for some people (depending on their height!).

2. Allow the Wick To Cool

Once again, some common sense here! While you won’t be directly touching the wick to trim it, making sure it has cooled off is just the safest thing to do. The wax lining the wick will harden a little but that won’t cause any issues in the long run.

In fact, it will help the cutting process. If the wick is still warm with some liquid wax near it, the cutting device may slip. Remember, the wick is not being trimmed that much but safety should always be the forefront when dealing with candles or anything dealing with heat!

3. Using Scissors Is Perfectly Fine!

Scissors are a household tool that comes in handy for any project. This is especially true when it comes to trimming wicks on candles.

They are sharp enough to get the job done, as most wicks are going to be braided cotton. It should be noted that if using scissors, always make sure the scissors are not at an angle. Too much of an angle can result in a slip of the scissors and result in wicks being trimmed down too far. In fact, it can cut them off completely.

4. Invest in a Wick Trimmer

While scissors are acceptable, wick trimmers are the magic tool! They are worth the investment (generally costing around $5 to $14) and are specially designed to reach the wick without any weird angles involved. Wick trimmers are quality metal tools that have long metal arms extending from the handle and a special wick trimmer blade at the end.

The long arms ensure the trimmers will reach any wick and the trimmer blade are two half-circle blades that come together to form a circle. When motioned like regular scissors, the half circles close in on the wick and perfectly trim it to size without cutting it too short!

Read our full article on Best Candle Wick Trimmers.

To ensure the best burning experience, always trim your candle wicks!

How Often Should I Trim My Candle Wicks?

While it is suggested that the wick be trimmed before each use, other debates argue it isn’t always necessary. Candles come in so many different types of waxes (paraffin, beeswax, plant-based wax, etc.) so the wax vapors might alter that science behind the burn and soot produced. With this in mind, the time between trims can differ from candle to candle.

As stated, the general rule of thumb is to trim the wick before each use. Another theory suggests that the wick can be trimmed after every 4 uses. How can someone truly tell the proper trim time? Simple! Being mindful of how the candle is burning when it is lit will be the telling sign of if the wick needed to be trimmed.

If someone is experiencing more soot release than normal or the first signs of it, it should have been trimmed! Always be watchful when lighting the candle every time to watch for this issue.

Once determining how that science is being put into play, it can be gaged on how to approach trimming the wicks. If it seems like the soot release is happening frequently, try trimming before every burn. If it seems like it is more spaced out between burns, only trim every few burns.

Once again, depending on the type of wax combined with the wick will show the need for how it should be trimmed. Keeping on the wick is the same is important to help the life of the candle be at its absolute best!

What Are Other Candle Maintenance Tips?

Wick trimming is one of the most important candle maintenance tips. However, are there other tips for getting the most out of our candles? The answer is yes! We spend so much money on candles that proper care of them should just come naturally.

However, not everyone knows what other tips are for maintaining candles. Below are other important things to practice while using candles!

Proper Candle Maintenance Tips:

Burn Candles for an Appropriate Amount of Time!

It may surprise some people to know that one of the most basic candle care tips is to burn the candle for a certain amount of time. Sure, we burn candles to get a quick scent in the air or use them for lighting in certain spaces.

However, when a candle is burned for the first time, it should be lit for a certain period of time to help set the stage for how the candle will burn during other times in use. If a candle is not burned long enough on its first use, the wax surrounding the base of the wicks will not form correctly.

This creates a “tunnel” that the path of all other burns will take resulting in a lot of unused candle wax. The proper time to burn a candle for the first time is said to be around 4 hours or more to evenly pool the top layer of wax.

Store Candles Properly

We all know to keep candles on flat, sturdy surfaces and away from candles. But that is not where the storage ends! Having a candle at the proper temperature is just as important. Anywhere a candle is stored should be between 50 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

This keeps the candle from melting without being lit from being into high temperatures. If the candle is in temperatures that are too cold, the glass can become brittle and comprised, causing cracks. At this point, the candle is no longer safe to burn in its jar. Proper storage includes proper temperature!

Clean Any Soot on the Candle Surface

While the trimming of wicks helps prevent soot from being released or built-up, there can still be soot that ends up among the layer of wax on the candle by the base of the wick. This shouldn’t occur too much if proper trimming is kept up, however, there is a way to tackle any unwanted soot residue on a candle’s surface.

Always make sure the candle is not burning and has completely cooled. Using a damp cloth, simply wipe any soot debris from the layer on top around the wick.

Keep the Wax Pool Clean

The pool of liquid wax that forms at the base of the wick should always be clear of any debris. When trimming a wick, remove the small wick piece that falls immediately. If using a match to light a candle, always properly dispose of the match after lighting.

Do Not Place Candles Near Heat Sources or Drafts

Believe it or not, drafts from open windows, heating sources, or fans can cause uneven burning on the candle. Once again, even burning is important as it helps as much wax as possible is used. It also helps the scent stay consistent in the room as well. Moreover, this candle care tip enforces safety as well!

Also read: Where to Place Scented Candles?

These are just some basic candle care tips. The list could include more, however, these are the most important to maintaining our fancy candles!

Wick trimming should be the first step, followed by these important tips. Candles are a great way to enhance our houses and proper care and wick trimming ensures they are around for as long as possible!

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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