Have you come across any of these common candle problems?
Candle making is an extremely popular pastime. And if you’ve ever made a candle, it’s likely you’ve experienced one or more of these common candle problems. I certainly have made my fair share of candle making mistakes.
I’ve been making candles for six years now, and I don’t intend on stopping. DIY candles are not only creative they are purposeful and transformative. The aroma and warm glow of a candle can calm us and lift our mood. And each and every handmade candle can be enjoyed for several months to years, depending on how often they are lit. Add to that, this satisfying hobby can make the most beautiful zero waste gift idea. I know you love gifting candles too!
Rather you make candles to sell or you just enjoy the simplicity of candle making, I decided it was time that I share with you 12 common candle problems and how to fix each candle mistake. I know first hand, the investment and patience it requires to master a craft. This is why I created the candle troubleshooting guide I wish I had when I began candle making years ago. May it help you learn and grow your candle making skills.
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DIY Candle Making Troubleshooting: 12 Common Candle Problems
#1 How do you fix a sinkhole in a candle?
Candle wax expands when it melts and naturally shrinks when it cools. Sinkholes in candles occur when the wax cools much too quickly. And one of two things caused it – either you poured the candle wax into a cool candle container. Or you poured the candle wax too hot and didn’t allow for cooling.
When this happens a sinkhole forms around or near the candle wick. How do you fix a sinkhole in a candle? Use a heat gun to remove the skin hole. Hold it about 6 to 8 inches away from your candle and rotate the heat gun in a circular motion to melt wax until the sinkhole is filled.
#2 Unsteady candle flickering?
Candle wicks are often the last choice or even an afterthought when it comes to candle making. Often I get caught up in choosing my candle wax type, containers, scents, and determining my fragrance load. The type of candle wicks I’ll use frequently gets decided at the last minute.
Unfortunately, this has proved to be a big mistake, when you watch your perfectly scented candle flicker and pop, spiraling little sparks onto the surfaces around it!
If you light a candle and it flickers you’ve got a problem. Typically this means the candle wick is too long. If a wick is too long the flame will be too big and burn too hot. Blow it out and trim it again. If the problem persists, then you’ve got the wrong sized candlewick.
#3 Your candle smelled great before being lit, but while burning it has little to no scent?
The path to a strong scented candle involves learning the difference between a cold and hot throw and how to get the best of both worlds. Most likely you made one of these candle mistakes:
– not adding a enough scent
– adding your scent at too high of temperature
Read our guide on how to make scented candles where we cover how to avoid these candle problems in more detail.
#4 Why is your candle wick drowning?
The first, yet sometimes not obvious solution to a drowning candle wick is to take a closer look at your candle container. Did you pour the wax above an area where the candle container shape changes? Or overfill the container, not leaving room for the wick and melt pool?
The second issue involves rethinking our candle wick choice. It’s possible the wick is too small for the candle’s diameter. Compare your candle wick size to your container size with our printable candle wick charts in the Simple Living Library.
#5 Is your candle sweating?
You’ve probably heard this term before, but may not be able to recognize this candle problem. What does candle sweating mean? Sweating is characterized by little beads or sometimes pools of fragrance gathering on the top of a container candle or worse – seeping out the sides of a pillar candle. So this answers the question – What happens if you put too much fragrance oil in a candle?
This used to be a candle making mistake I made frequently. One would think if they add more fragrance to a candle it would only help to make it smell stronger. But, unfortunately, there is a delicate balance of just the right amount of fragrance needed. Use our candle fragrance load calculator to get the right amount for your homemade candles.
#6 How do you remove candle wax from glass?
This is a popular question and one I’ve gotten pretty good at! We spend a lot of time and money on choosing candle containers – so why not use them again?
Here’s two methods for removing candle wax from glass containers:
1. The easiest way to remove candle wax from glass to place it in the freezer. Remember candle wax shrinks when it cools… So place your glass candle container in the freezer for several hours. Even overnight is OK.
When you take it out of the freezer the wax usually pops right out with the help of a butter knife to loosen it. Then clean the container with soap and water or place it in the dishwasher if it’s dishwasher safe. (Have you tried my DIY zero dishwasher detergent?)
2. If you have several glass containers you want to remove candle wax from, you may prefer this method. Using a spoon or butter knife, remove the wick and as much candle wax as you can. Then line a deep baking pan with two layers of parchment paper. Place each candle container inside the baking pan and heat the oven to 180 degrees. Allow the candle wax to melt for approximately 15 minutes, checking often. After carefully remove the baking pan and place it on a heat-safe surface.
Then using a towel or hot pad pour the melted candle wax into an empty glass or metal container. A coffee tin or empty pasta jars work well. Allow to wax cool then toss the old wax away. Or pour your excess wax into an old baking sheet and dip pinecones in it to make DIY firestarters. Whatever you choose to do with the wax is fine, just don’t pour it down the drain or into a plastic garbage bag.
After removing the melted candle wax from each container, allow for cooling. Then clean up with soap and water or dip a cotton ball in vinegar to remove any waxy residue.
#7 Why are my homemade candles tunneling?
Here’s the good news – you didn’t do anything wrong in the candle making process! This is one of those candle problems that happens to even the most expensive store-bought candles. It all equates to burn time.
Like burning calories at the gym, a short five-minute burn won’t leave you with great results. When lighting a candle you need to be in it for the long haul! Candles need to be burned until the wax melts across the entire diameter – from edge to edge.
Two hours is generally a good burn time. But some candles may need up to 4 hours to burn all the way across if they are really big – like a dough bowl candle. Regardless of their size, without waiting for a full burn you can count on a tunnel forming in the wax and shortening the life of the candle.
However, if you keep seeing this candle problem happen in your homemade candles you may not be using a thick enough wick that can properly form a melt pool in your candles. Get help with choosing candle wicks here.
#8 Are your candles stuck in a mold?
This happened to me when I tried using vintage ornate metal baking tins as candle molds. Luckily this is one of the few candle problems that is very easy to avoid and fix!
For starters, don’t fill molds over the fill line and avoid pouring the wax too hot. And make sure you’re using the right candle wax for this type of candle. See our candle wax guide for choosing the correct candle wax type.
If you’re reading this now with stuck candles, place them in the fridge to shrink and contract the wax for a few hours. Then tap them out onto a hard surface.
#9 Seeing jump lines in your candles?
If you are seeing visible lines on the outside of your candles or through the glass of container candles you’ve got a jump line. This can’t be fixed, but can be avoided.
– warm-up your candle container or mold before pouring (many pro candle makers use a heat gun to warm up their candle containers)
– use fewer additives, too many lavender buds or crystals can screw your results
– don’t pour too cold
#10 Is fragrance oil settling in the bottom of your candle?
If you’ve got fragrance oil settling to the bottom of your candles, you’ve definitely got the wrong fragrance load for your wax type. Use our fragrance load calculator to determine the correct amount before you make candles.
#11 Why are my candles not smooth on top?
Uneven surfaces and bubbles are one of the most common candle problems. It frequently occurs when air escapes from the top surface of wax or water mixes with the wax. Thankfully there are several things you can do to prevent this. And there’s also a remedy for how to smooth candle surfaces too. Let’s start with preventing this candle mistake.
1. Pour at slightly warm temperature – just 5 degrees higher can make a difference.
2. If you’re using a makeshift double boiler, you may be getting water in your candle wax. Get a tall candle melting pitcher to avoid water.
3. While you need a full two-minute stir after adding fragrance to melted wax for a good scent throw – too much stirring can produce air bubbles.
How do you smooth candle tops? Use a heat gun on the low heat setting. Hold it close to the area where there is a flaw. Then move quickly back and forth over the surface of the candle. The candle wax will melt slightly and fix imperfections for a smooth candle top.
#12 Are your candles pulling away from the sides of the container?
This is poor adhesion, sometimes called candle wet spots. It is most noticeable in glass containers and has the look of a wet appearance. Even though it is actually trapped air between the container and the wax. Here’s how to fix it:
– Remove dust by cleaning candle containers before using
– Pour your candle wax a cooler temperature, try 5 to 10 degrees cooler
– Warm up your candle container if your space is below 77 degrees
Take my word for it, candle making takes time and effort but it’s so worth it when you enjoy the comfort of a handcrafted candle. Learn more in my detailed soy candle making guide and find my tried and true candle making supplies in an all-in-one index.
Pin these solutions to 12 common candle problems and tag #lifenreflection on Instagram to share your candle making with me. I can’t wait to see what you make!
Related To: Candle Making Supply Index
Related To: The Ultimate Guide to Soy Candle Making