No matter what holiday you celebrate in your home, it’s quite likely that your celebration may include candles. At this, the very darkest time of year, even just a few flickering tea lights can fill your space with a wonderful sense of warmth. But candles can also be messy and even dangerous. Here are some tricks and tips to help you create ambiance (safely) in your home.
1. Before lighting it for the first time, trim the wick of your candles to 1/2 inch to ensure the flame burns evenly and prevent soot from accumulating.
2. The general rule of thumb is that you leave a candle lit one hour for each inch in diameter (tea lights are the exception to this rule). For example, for a four-inch wide pillar candle, you should light the candle for four hours on your first use. Once the wax pools close to the edge of the candle, blow it out and allow the wax to cool and solidify. You can re-light it once the wax has cooled. This will ensure that your candle maintains its original shape and will prevent it from dripping or spilling over.
3. If using multiple hurricanes or votive holders, make sure there is no glass to glass contact and ideally keep your candle holders at least three inches apart.
4. The jury’s still out on the validity of this one – but many candle aficionados claim that storing your candles in the fridge or freezer will ensure a slow and even burn (in my experience this works!).
5. Add half a teaspoon of water to the bottom of your tea-light holders before adding the tea light candle to protect the holder from excessive heat and make cleaning much easier.
6. Candle wax can be a real pain to remove from candle holders. For easy removal, put your candle holders in the freezer for a couple hours, then gently press the wax with a spoon. The wax will literally ‘pop’ off, leaving a clean surface.
7. Do not burn candles in glass containers that are cracked, chipped or damaged – these can be a fire hazard!
8. An easy tip to light candles if you don’t have any extra-long matches or a barbecue lighter is to use a (raw) piece of spaghetti.
9. To remove wax from fabrics or carpeting, let any spilled wax solidify so that when it hardens it can easily be removed in pieces. Place a bag of ice cubes in a plastic bag on top of the wax to harden it, then use a spoon or butter knife to scrape off the excess wax. To remove any wax residue left behind, spread a damp cloth (some recommend a brown paper bag) over the wax stain then use an iron on low heat on the cloth/bag. The iron against the damp cloth will create steam which will suck the wax right into the cloth.
10. I’m sure I don’t need to mention this one – but never (never!) leave the house or leave candles burning unattended.