Troubleshooting Tips for Re-Lighting Your Wood Wick Candle

Having trouble relighting your wood wick candle? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Read our troubleshooting tips to help you get that cozy ambiance back in no time.

Nothing sets the mood for a relaxing evening quite like lighting a wood wick candle. Not only do they provide a warm and cozy atmosphere, but they also have a distinct crackling sound that adds an extra level of cozy. 

I was really drawn to the wood wicks, which is why they are a foundation for Dark Horse candles.  However, it appears that sometimes…even the most rigorously tested candles, can have one now and again that chooses to be stubborn.

There are definitely some things we can do as candle enthusiasts, to reduce the chances of having a wood wick candle that refuses to stay lit.  

The First Burn

Problems seldom occur on the very first burn of a wood wick candle as there is no previously burnt material.  It should be noted, that no matter what type of wick your candle has, the ‘first’ burn should always burn long enough to make a full melt pool.  This can take up to a few hours, depending on the candle size, so don’t light it unless you are sure you can give it the time it needs.

Trim the Wick before Re-lighting

Probably the number one reason a wood wick candle won’t stay lit, is because it needs to be trimmed.  As the wood has burned from the previous lighting, it has left a carbon buildup (or burnt residue) that needs to be removed.  Wood can only burn once, so by removing the ‘burnt charcoal’ new wood is exposed.  You may be surprised at how short the wick needs to be, but you only need about ⅛” inch.

This wick needs to be trimmed.

 Previously lit candle with wood wick that needs to be trimmed.

What it looks like after being trimmed.  Looks pretty short right?

What the wood wick looks like after being trimmed correctly

Keep in mind, the source of your candle's flame is not the wood, but rather the wax. The flame operates by drawing the wax upward through the wick. It is essential to keep the wick trimmed short and clean because if it is not, the wax will be unable to reach the flame.

You can use nail clippers, side cutters, wick trimmers or even your fingers to gently break off the burnt parts of the wick.

** HACK** When re-lighting, use a lighter (a BBQ lighter if you can) as opposed to matches.  When you go to re-light, use the lighter to gently melt some of the wax immediately around the wood wick.  This will make it easier for the wick to start drawing the fuel it needs to keep burning.  SEE VIDEO BELOW

My candle is tunneling

A candle can start to tunnel if it has not been given the time it needs to develop a full melt pool.  If it is extinguished before this happens, when it is re-lit, the flame can tend to go downward instead of outward as a result of too many short burns.  And then won’t light at all, because it can’t get enough oxygen.

You can see in this candle where it was not lit long enough for the melt pool to reach the edge of the glass.  Continued short burns like this will lead to tunneling.

Candle with previous short burn time, you can see where the wax did not make a full melt pool

Like this candle?  You can find it here.

To fix this, if the candle will stay lit - give it every chance to melt the wax all the way to the outside of the jar.  The flame height might fluctuate, but as long as it is still burning it should continue to create a melt pool. It may take a while.


The melt pool has reached the edge of the previous burn.  By letting it burn long enough for the melt pool to reach the edge of the glass, we can prevent any tunneling.

Candle lit and melted to the same area as the shorter burn time

The candle now has a full melt pool, and it took about 2 hours

Candle with full melt pool

If your candle is having trouble staying lit due to excess wax pooling around the wick, you can try using a paper towel or napkin to absorb some of the excess wax.  A heat gun can also be used to melt some wax if the candle won’t stay lit.  Wait a few minutes and then try re-lighting.

** HACK** If your candle is made of a soft wax, like coconut or soy, you should be able to easily scrape some out from the edge of the jar to reduce the tunneling.  Save the wax and you can use it in a wax melter.  When you re-light, be sure to let the wax pool reach the edge of the jar so it doesn’t start tunneling again.

One of the reasons I LOVE our coconut soy wax is the fact that we don't typically have many issues with our wood wicks.  It's an easy fuel for wood wicks to draw on, and it carries fragrance amazingly!  You can learn more about all benefits of coconut wax on this blog post here.


Q: How do I know when to trim the wick?

A: You should trim the wick to ¼ or ⅛ inch before each use.

Q: Can I relight a wood wick candle that has burned for a short time?

A: Yes, but it's best to let the wax melt evenly across the surface of the candle before extinguishing it. If you extinguish the candle too soon, it may be challenging to relight.

Q: Can I burn my wood wick candle for too long?

A: Yes, you can burn your candle for too long. We recommend burning your candle for no more than four hours at a time.


Wood wick candles can provide a beautiful and relaxing atmosphere, but it's important to know how to troubleshoot any issues that may arise. Follow these simple tips to ensure that your wood wick candles burn evenly, consistently, and beautifully every time. Don't forget to maintain wick health by trimming the wick after every use and always burn long enough for a full melt pool.

Find your favourite wood wick candle here, we're sure you'll find something your gonna love!

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