How to Prevent Tunneling in Candle Making

Tunneling is a common issue that many candle makers encounter during the process of creating their aromatic creations. It refers to the uneven burning pattern where the wax melts down the center, leaving untouched wax along the sides of the vessel.

This not only affects the appearance of the candle but also hampers its burn time and fragrance throw. In this article, we will delve into the problem of tunneling in candle making and provide you with practical tips and techniques to prevent it.

When it comes to candle making, tunneling can be frustrating for both beginners and experienced creators alike. Understanding why tunneling occurs is crucial to addressing this issue effectively. Tunneling typically happens when candles are not properly prepared or when improper wick selection is made. The size, shape, and type of wick play a significant role in preventing or exacerbating tunneling issues.

To ensure a consistent burn throughout your candles’ lifespan, it is essential to select the right wick for your specific wax blend and vessel size. Additionally, proper preparation of your wax and vessel is vital for successful burning. From temperature control to maximizing surface area for even melting, each aspect contributes to preventing tunneling from occurring.

In the following sections of this article, we will explore these topics in detail, offering you valuable insights into how to prevent tunneling in your candle making endeavors. By implementing these tips and techniques, you can create beautiful candles that burn evenly, last longer, and fill your space with delightful fragrances. So let’s dive in and discover the secrets behind achieving perfect candles while avoiding the dreaded issue of tunneling.

What is Tunneling and Why is it a Common Issue in Candle Making?

Tunneling is a common issue that candle makers often encounter during the burning process. It refers to when the wax burns down the middle, leaving a tunnel-like hole in the center of the candle, while the outer edges remain untouched. This not only affects the aesthetics of the candle but also leads to wasted wax and an uneven burn.

There are several reasons why tunneling occurs in candles. One major factor is improper wick selection.

Using a wick that is too small for the diameter of the candle can result in inadequate heat dispersion, causing only a small area of wax to melt around the wick rather than melting uniformly across the entire surface. On the other hand, using a wick that is too large can lead to an excessively hot flame, which in turn can cause rapid melting directly around the wick and contribute to tunneling.

Another reason for tunneling is improper preparation of both the wax and vessel. If the wax is not melted at the correct temperature or if it is poured into a container that has not been properly preheated, it can create an uneven burn. The vessel should be warmed before pouring hot wax into it so that there are no cold spots that could potentially cause tunneling.

To prevent tunneling in candle making, it is essential to select suitable wicks based on factors such as candle diameter and type of wax being used. Conduct test burns with different wicks to determine which one provides a consistent burn across the entire surface area of your candles. Additionally, ensure that both your wax and vessel are properly prepared before pouring.

Overall, by understanding what causes tunneling in candle making and taking appropriate measures to prevent it from occurring, you can produce candles with an even surface burn and maximize their longevity.

Importance of Proper Wick Selection

Proper wick selection is a crucial factor in preventing tunneling and achieving a consistent burn in candle making. Choosing the right wick size and type for your specific candle is essential to ensure that the wax pool reaches the edges of the container, resulting in an even and efficient burn.

Understanding Wick Sizes and Types

When selecting a wick, it’s important to consider both its size and type. The size of the wick determines how much fuel it can pull up from the wax, while the type of wick influences the rate at which it burns. The wrong combination of these factors can lead to tunneling or uneven burning.

The size of the wick needed for your candle depends on various factors such as candle diameter, wax type, fragrance load, and desired burn time. It’s essential to refer to wick manufacturer guides or perform small test burns to determine the optimal wick size for your specific candle recipe.

Wicks are available in different types, including cotton core wicks, zinc core wicks, wooden wicks, and more. Each type has its own burning characteristics and performance. Experimenting with different types of wicks can help you find the best option for your candles.

Testing and Troubleshooting Wick Selection

To ensure you have chosen the right wick for your candles, it’s crucial to conduct test burns before producing larger batches. Set up multiple test containers with different wick sizes to observe their performance. Monitor factors such as flame height, melt pool diameter, and overall burn time.

If you notice excessive flickering flames, mushrooming (carbon ball formation), or shallow melt pools that do not reach the edges of the container during testing, it may indicate that you need a larger or different type of wick. On the other hand, if you experience deep melt pools that consume wax too quickly or cause overheating of the container, a smaller or alternative wick might be necessary.

Remember that the size and type of wick needed can vary depending on different factors. Be patient and keep experimenting until you find the optimal wick for your specific candle recipe.

Tips for Proper Candle Preparation

Proper candle preparation is essential to prevent tunneling and ensure a successful burn. By taking the time to prepare your wax and vessel correctly, you can minimize the risk of tunneling and promote an even melting process. Here are some tips to help you prepare your candles effectively:

Firstly, it’s crucial to properly melt your wax. Ensure that you melt the wax at the recommended temperature specified by the manufacturer. Overheating can lead to uneven burning and increase the likelihood of tunneling. To achieve an even melt, use a double boiler or a wax melting pot specifically designed for candle making.

How Much Wax Per Candle

Next, before pouring the melted wax into your container, it’s important to preheat the vessel. Preheating prevents temperature differences between the poured wax and the container, which can cause cracking or uneven cooling. To preheat, place your container on a heat-resistant surface such as a warming plate or use warm water to warm it up.

Additionally, consider priming your wick before pouring the wax. This involves dipping the wick in melted wax for a few seconds and then straightening it while it cools. Priming helps improve burn performance by reducing mushrooming (carbon buildup) at the tip of the wick, which can interfere with an even burn.

Lastly, take into consideration any additives or fragrance oils you may be using in your candles. Some additives and fragrances have different properties that can affect how well a candle burns. Be sure to carefully read the instructions provided by suppliers and use them in appropriate quantities to prevent issues like tunneling.

By following these tips for proper candle preparation, you will be setting yourself up for success in preventing tunneling during candle making. Taking care in this stage of the process ensures that your candles will have an even burn and provide maximum enjoyment for those who light them.

The Role of Candle Size and Shape in Preventing Tunneling

When it comes to preventing tunneling in candle making, the size and shape of your candle play a crucial role. Maximizing the surface area of your candle can help promote even melting and reduce the likelihood of tunneling. Here are some tips for selecting the right size and shape for your candles:

  1. Choose a wider diameter: Candles with a wider diameter have a larger surface area exposed to heat, allowing for more even and consistent burning. When possible, opt for candles with a diameter of at least 3 inches or more.
  2. Consider tapered or pillar candles: Tapered or pillar candles tend to have a larger circumference compared to container candles, which helps distribute heat more evenly throughout the wax. This can help prevent tunneling and encourage a full melt pool.
  3. Avoid tall, narrow containers: Candles housed in tall, narrow containers are prone to tunneling because the heat is concentrated in one area rather than being spread throughout the wax. Opt for shorter, wider containers that allow for better heat distribution.
  4. Use multiple wicks: In larger candles, using multiple wicks can help maximize surface area and ensure an even burn. This is especially beneficial for container candles or those with irregular shapes.

By carefully considering the size and shape of your candle, you can create optimal conditions for a uniform burn and reduce the chances of tunneling. Giving thought to these factors during the candle-making process will greatly enhance your overall candle quality and ensure an enjoyable experience for candle lovers.

Unordered list:

– Choose candles with a wide diameter.

– Consider tapered or pillar candles.

– Avoid tall, narrow containers.

– Use multiple wicks in larger candles.

Remember that this is just one aspect of preventing tunneling in candle making; other factors such as proper wick selection and wax additives are equally important.

Wax Additives and Techniques to Avoid Tunneling

Wax additives and various techniques can be used to enhance the performance of wax and prevent tunneling in candle making. These additives and techniques are designed to promote even burning, eliminate air pockets, and improve the overall quality of the candle. By implementing these methods, candle makers can ensure a consistent burn and reduce the occurrence of tunneling.

One commonly used technique to avoid tunneling is called “priming,” where the wick is prepped before pouring the wax. To prime a wick, it should be coated or dipped into hot wax before being placed in the candle. This helps to create a stronger flame and maintain an even burn throughout the entire candle.

Another technique is called “wicking up,” where multiple wicks are used in larger pillar candles or container candles with a wide diameter. This allows for better heat distribution and reduces the risk of tunneling.

In addition to priming and using multiple wicks, there are also wax additives that can be mixed into the melted wax before pouring into the candle vessel. One common additive is stearic acid, which increases hardness, strength, and opacity in candles. Stearic acid helps reduce wax shrinkage during cooling, preventing sinkholes that may lead to tunneling. Other popular additives include microcrystalline wax and Vybar®, both of which improve burn stability and help prevent uneven burning.

By incorporating these various additives and techniques into your candle making process, you can greatly reduce the risk of tunneling and achieve a more aesthetically pleasing result. It’s important to experiment with different methods and find what works best for your specific type of candles and materials. With proper care given to wick selection, preparation techniques, temperature control, and maintenance practices outlined in this article, you can create high-quality candles that burn evenly from start to finish.

Temperature Control

Maintaining the ideal temperature is crucial for preventing tunneling in candle making. Wax needs to reach a specific temperature to melt evenly and create a pool that extends to the edges of the container. If the temperature is too low, the wax will solidify before it has a chance to melt all the way to the sides, resulting in tunneling.

To achieve optimal temperature control, consider the following tips:

1. Use a thermometer: Invest in a reliable thermometer specifically designed for candle making. This will allow you to accurately monitor the temperature of your wax throughout the melting and pouring process.

2. Double boiler method: A double boiler provides gentle heat and helps prevent hot spots that can lead to uneven melting. By placing your wax in a heat-resistant container within a larger pot filled with water, you can control and maintain a consistent temperature during the melting process.

3. Melting point considerations: Different types of waxes have different melting points. It’s essential to understand the specific melting point of your chosen wax and adjust your heating method accordingly. For example, soy wax generally has a lower melting point compared to other waxes like paraffin.

4. Heat source: Choose your heat source wisely when melting wax. Electric melters or hot plates are popular options as they offer precise temperature control. Avoid using open flames or stovetops directly as they can cause uneven heating and potentially dangerous situations.

Candle Making With Old Crayons

Remember that maintaining consistent temperature control extends beyond just the initial phase of candle making. As you light your candles during use, it’s vital to keep them away from drafts or areas with fluctuating temperatures, as this can disrupt an even burn and contribute to tunneling.

By prioritizing temperature control throughout each stage of candle making, you can significantly reduce the risk of tunneling and produce candles with beautiful, even burns every time.

Proper Candle Care and Maintenance

Proper candle care and maintenance are essential for preventing tunneling and prolonging the lifespan of your candles. By following best practices, you can ensure that your candles burn evenly and last longer, providing you with hours of enjoyment. Here are some tips to help you take care of your candles:

Trim the Wick

Trimming the wick before each burn is crucial in maintaining a clean and even burn. A trimmed wick will prevent excessive burning, which can lead to tunneling. Ideally, trim the wick to about 1/4 inch before lighting the candle. This will promote a steady flame and prevent soot buildup.

Burn Candles for an Adequate Time

To prevent tunneling, it’s important to allow your candle to burn long enough during each use. When you light your candle for the first time, make sure to let it burn until the wax pool reaches the edges of the container or vessel. This will ensure that the entire top layer of wax melts evenly and prevent tunneling in future burns.

Avoid Drafts

Drafts from open windows, fans, or air vents can disrupt the airflow around your candle, causing an uneven burn and potentially leading to tunneling. Always place your candles in a draft-free area to achieve a consistent burn.

Practice Safe Burning Habits

To maintain maximum candle performance and prevent tunneling, it’s important to follow safe burning habits. Never leave a lit candle unattended and keep them away from flammable materials or surfaces. Additionally, avoid over-burning your candles; extinguish them after four hours of continuous use to prevent overheating and potential tunneling.

Taking proper care of your candles not only prevents tunneling but also ensures their longevity. By implementing these best practices in candle care and maintenance into your candle burning routine, you can create a relaxing atmosphere and enjoy your candles to the fullest.


Tunneling can be a frustrating issue that sometimes occurs despite our best efforts in candle making. If you notice tunneling in your candles, don’t worry, there are steps you can take to fix the problem and salvage your candles.

One common method to fix tunneling is called “tunneling rescue”. This involves melting away the excess wax around the sides of the container and pouring it out. First, remove any decorations or embellishments from the candle to ensure they don’t get damaged during the process.

Then, place the candle on a heat-resistant surface and light it. Allow it to burn for a short period of time until a pool of melted wax has formed around the wick, ensuring that all the wax within the container is melted. Blow out the flame and carefully pour out the excess wax into a disposable container.

Alternatively, if you prefer not to use fire as part of this process, you can also use a hairdryer on its lowest setting to melt away the excess wax around the edges of the container. Simply hold the hairdryer about 6 inches away from the edge of the candle jar and slowly rotate it around until all the wax has been melted down.

After removing excess wax, it’s important to trim down your wick before relighting your candle. A long wick can cause uneven burning and contribute to tunneling. Trim it down to about 1/4 inch before each burn. It’s also recommended to let your candle burn long enough so that a full melt pool forms across its entire surface each time you light it. This will help prevent future tunneling issues by ensuring an even burn throughout.

By following these troubleshooting tips and taking proper care of your candles moving forward, you should be able to fix tunneling issues and enjoy beautifully burning candles once again.


In conclusion, preventing tunneling in candle making requires attention to several important factors. By understanding the problem of tunneling and its causes, you can take proactive steps to ensure a consistent burn throughout the life of your candles.

One of the key aspects in preventing tunneling is choosing the right wick for your candles. Proper wick selection ensures that the flame can properly melt the wax evenly across the entire surface area of the candle.

Taking time to prepare your wax and vessel correctly also plays a crucial role in preventing tunneling. Properly melting and pouring your wax, as well as ensuring a clean and level surface for your candle, will contribute to an even burn and minimize tunneling.

The size and shape of your candles also hold significance in preventing tunneling. Maximizing the surface area of your candle allows for more even melting, reducing the chances of tunneling occurring. Additionally, considering additives and techniques that enhance wax performance can improve burning consistency. It is also essential to maintain optimal temperature control throughout the process, as variations in temperature can affect how wax melts and burns.

Lastly, proper candle care and maintenance are vital for preventing tunneling and extending the lifespan of your candles. Trimming wicks regularly, keeping them upright during burning, and avoiding drafts or uneven surfaces are simple yet effective practices to minimize tunneling.

By following these guidelines outlined in this comprehensive guide on preventing tunneling in candle making, you can create beautiful candles with an even burn from start to finish. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced candle maker, implementing these strategies will help you achieve professional-quality results. With care and attention to detail, you can ensure that each candle you make provides hours of steady illumination and aromatic enjoyment without any issues of tunneling.

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