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How to Fix Candle Tunneling

Need to know how to fix candle tunneling? Here are two quick fixes for candle tunneling and three ways to prevent it! 

There’s something about candlelight that warms the soul. But there’s nothing like candle tunneling to ruin the moment. 

What does it mean when a candle is tunneling? It describes how a vertical tunnel forms around the wick towards the bottom of a candle. It might appear that the wick was too heavy and sank to the bottom of the melted wax, creating a crater. It makes me think of those crazy weather channel videos of craters happening out of nowhere! 

Why is candle tunneling bad? Well, not only does your crater candle look bizarre, but this issue also drastically shortens the life of the candle. As the wick burns to the bottom in a tunnel, you see, it leaves lots of wax on the sides that should have been slowly burned evenly over time. 

And once a candle burns down to less than ½ inch of wax on the bottom, it can’t be lit again, or you’ll risk the container cracking and causing a real hot mess! 

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Want to know the best tips on how to fix candle tunneling? Read these now!

Related To: 12 Common Candle Problems Solved

How do you fix a tunneling candle?

If only I could count the times I’ve been asked, “How do you keep candles from tunneling?” by candle makers and candle lovers alike. How do you fix a candle that only burns in the middle? It’s a very common candle problem. 

Fortunately, there are two quick tricks you can do to fix a tunneling candle. But let’s talk about how to prevent a candle from tunneling first. So, this candle problem doesn’t keep recurring for you!

3 Ways to Prevent Candle Tunneling

1. Choose Your Candle Container Wisely 

I rarely hear this candle tip talked about much, but it solves the issue of candle tunneling from the get-go. Before you buy or make a candle, examine the shape and diameter of the container. 

What should you avoid?

Picture a flower vase or a reed diffuser – they have a full bottom and narrow opening on the top. This shape will never work well for a candle. The diameter of the top is much too small to wick and burn a candle properly. As the candle burns, it will quickly form a tunnel. 

It might surprise you how many containers will cause tunnels and can result in explosions or fire. So, it’s crucial you know what is safe to use to make a container candle. See my recommendations for safe candle containers

2. Know Your Wick

The use of more than one wick decreases the chance of candle tunneling.  

When looking at a candle wick size chart, we see even the largest wicks can only be used for up to a 5-inch diameter candle. So, if you’re making candles in a container larger than 5 inches in diameter, you will need a second wick or more! 

Use the steps I shared here to determine how many wicks to use in a candle, including your wick type. Use our printable candlewick charts from the Simple Living Library to get it right every time! 

Use our printable candle wick charts from the Resource Library to cross reference the size of each candle wick you intend to use.

3. Burn Your Candle Correctly 

Candles have a memory. A candle will remember when and where you put it out. 

Let me explain,

If you light a candle and put it out 15 minutes later, a small ring will form in the middle. This seems harmless until you realize the next time you light the candle, it only melts to that ring, causing a tunnel to begin forming. 

Keep in mind all candles start with a small circular melt pool, but don’t stop there if you want to avoid candle tunneling. This is the exact reason why you should learn how to burn candles correctly.  

How to Light and Properly Burn a Candle:

1. Start by trimming the wick to ¼ inch with a wick trimmer and discard any debris.

2. Place the candle on an even surface in a safe place to burn.

3. Next, light your candle with a long match or bendable candle lighter. (Both allow you to avoid tilting the candle to the side when lighting)

4. Allow the candle to burn until the entire top layer of the candle is liquid, reaching from edge to edge across the candle (this can take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours for a single-wick candle and longer for a multi-wick candle). It is typically 1 hour per 1 inch of the candle diameter.

Here’s how to fix candle tunneling and stop it from recurring!

Related To: How to Make a Candle Last Longer

2 Ways to Fix a Candle That’s Tunneling

Now that we’ve covered how to prevent a candle from tunneling, it’s time to learn how to fix candle tunneling without foil. I tried that method, but it didn’t work for me. Instead, the foil got really hot, and the wax was very uneven. These two candle tunneling fixes, on the other hand, were successful! 

#1 Give It Time

Ever lit a candle planning to stay in for the evening, then decided to go out instead – only to have caused a perfect candle to start tunneling? Well, if you caught your mistake early and your candle barely tunneled, it might just fix itself! 

When you recognize the signs of tunneling, try lighting your candle and giving it time to melt across the top layer fully. This could take three to four hours, so be prepared to keep it in sight for that length of time. Bake some cookies, watch a movie, or both while your candle burns. 

Sometimes, just giving a candle a reasonable length of time to burn solves the problem. But, if it doesn’t – move on to the next candle tunneling fix. 

#2 Bring on the Heat

This following method on how to fix candle tunneling is a candle hack usually shared only among candle makers. But, I’m letting the secret out… 

To fix a candle that burned down the middle, you’ve got to bring the heat! In the form of a heat gun, that is. This tool makes fixing candle tunnels a breeze! Just hold the heat gun about 6 inches away from the candle. Then, use small circles to melt the areas of wax that built up on the sides. 

Once you’ve melted that, make a large circular motion across the top of the wax to level it out. Then, let the candle cool and allow the wax to harden before lighting. 

It’s not only a great solution to fixing candle tunnels, but it is also how many candle makers create smooth tops on their candles. Once you try one, you’ll see why it is such a popular tool among candle makers!

How to fix candle tunneling without foil and stop it from happening again!

If you scrolled to the bottom, slide back to the top for three ways to prevent a candle from tunneling so this candle problem doesn’t keep recurring for you! 

And remember, without waiting for a full burn, you can count on a tunnel forming and shortening the life of your candles. So, give them a generous 2 to 4 hours to evenly burn each time. 


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