Scenting Your Home With Candles

Scenting Your Home With Candles
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Care Tips and Cautions

Candles are a wonderful way to scent your home, create ambiance at the dinner table and add a touch of whimsy to decor with themed tea light holders. However, there really are some hard and fast rules you should follow for candle safety and some tips to make the most of your candles.

NEVER leave a candle out of your sight for more than a few seconds. Only in the movies is it safe to light up every room in the house and not actually be in that room! Make sure you are using the candles the way they are meant to be used. Place them on a dry, heat-resistant surface that is even and stable. They should be completely out of the reach of kids, pets, drapes, bedding, wood objects, clothing, plants, clothing etc. You see what I'm getting at here-place the candle where it's alone, stable and level. Another note: NEVER use aerosol spray near a candle.

Remove all paper and plastic from the candle before burning and make sure it's in it's proper base-whether a votive holder, metal stand etc. Do not burn a candle sitting by itself directly on a counter or surface.

Keep the candle wicks trimmed to 1/4 inch at all times, but don't straighten the wick. They will naturally curve slightly and this is okay. If the candle smokes, blow it out and trim the wick, remove the trimmings and light it again. ALWAYS keep the candle clear of trimmed wicks, matches, or other debris. If you notice the wick forming a black ball of build-up, remove this also. If the wick breaks off use a dull knife to trim around the wick so you have 1/4" exposed, then light.

After lighting a candle, allow the wax to form a "pool" within a 1/2 to a 1/4 inch of the candle edge. This will one hour for each inch of the candle width. As the candle burns, center the wick in this "pool" so the candle will burn straight and evenly. Also, use a candle snuffer instead of blowing out the candle. Never use water to extinguish the flame and gently use the snuffer, by leaving it there for a few seconds until the flame goes out.

Candles should be placed away from all drafts including ceiling fans, air conditioners, heat vents and window drafts. This is really important so the candle will burn evenly and pool correctly. If you do need to move your candle, blow it out, then move it to a different location. When you are creating a display with more than one candle be sure to give them each their own space and not crowd them together. This could cause them to heat up too much and not burn correctly. Always leave the small metal piece that is attached to the wick in place.

Tea lights: There are two types-one has a metal container, the other plastic. Use the metal cups in enclosed holders like tealight houses, lamps and the burners for oils or tarts. Use the clear cup in open holders. The metal cups are cheaper though, so save your clear cups if you use them, and remove the tea light from the metal holder to reuse the plastic cup. The candle is the same-it's just the holder that is different.

Votive candles should be burned in a snug fitting holder that is made for votives. The tighter the fit the longer the candle will burn. Remove the metal tab of the spent votives before placing a new candle in the container and any leftover wax. If you freeze the container for a tiny bit, you can carefully pry out the wax.


You can trim candles that don't fit in the holder, by placing the end of it in very hot water and carefully "mold" the candle into the holder. You can also "shave" the candle end, place the bits into the holder, then place the candle in as usual.

Clean soiled candles with a clean dry piece of nylon hosiery or use a tiny bit of olive or vegetable oil on a soft cloth.

Christina Camusa, one of our subscribers has found a good way to get the candle wax out of the holders. " I put glass holders in the sink with a small squirt of dishwashing soap and hot tap water. Usually, within 15 min. or so, I can get a butter knife and pop the wax out. It's quite easy and will most often come out as one big piece. I rinse out the holder and the small wax pieces come out easily as well. "

Joan Hoogasian, another subscriber, has an easy solution too, "When I put a candle into a holder I put about 1 teaspoon of water on the bottom and then the candle and when the candle is done burning I just tip the holder over and out comes the candle. Use more water if the holder is large."

Liz Neal, one of our forum moderators and leaders, also has an easy method for releasing wax from the votive cups. "Before using them rinse the votive cup in water and leave it wet (add a teaspoon of water in the bottom of the cup too), then put the candle in and burn away! When it's time to remove the remains, it will pop out in one chunk of wax and the votive holder will be clean."

Lorraine, a subscriber, says "As a long-time fashioner of candles, I've found the easiest way to clean used candle holders is to freeze them, scrape out the residue, if any, and follow with a spritz of good-ole Lestoil (a cleaner made by Clorox)".

Never place candles in a window, in direct sun or strong inside light. Store them in a cool, dry place where they are laying flat. You can also wrap candles in plastic wrap or foil and store them in the refrigerator.

Apparently there is a controversy over to freeze or not freeze candles! I have not froze mine but wanted to give other experiences. I did do some research and found candle makers advise not to freeze because some candles will crack. One source said to freeze for just 2 hours before using. I also found a chemistry tidbit that said experiments prove the frozen candles do not actually burn slower, and they do tend to become more brittle. But again, everyone has their own personal experiences! Here are what some of our subscribers have found:

WitchyHerb Lady said "I have been told by several candle party people, that freezing candles makes them burn longer and is actually a good idea."

Barbara heard this: "Once years ago the owner of an excellent restaurant here in Geneva told me that the candles they use burn more slowly and evenly because she always freezes them. I've been following her advice for years. Also apparently older candles burn more slowly than new ones but I can't really attest to that."

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About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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