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Candle Wick Too Short? How to Fix and Burn a Short Candle Wick

Oh no! You pick up your most favorite candle, try to light it, and its wick is absurdly short. Or maybe it's worse: The wick is wholly buried in wax. The good news is you can fix a wick that's too short or completely buried fairly easily. Here's everything you need to know.

Fixing Your Candle Wicks

First, gather a few tools:

  • A heat source such as a heat gun, hairdryer, or candle lighter
  • A single-use item such as a paper plate or bowl
  • A butter knife and some tweezers  

Now, you’re ready to begin! We have a couple of techniques to fix the wick depending on if it’s just too short or completely buried. 

Is Your Candle Wick Too Short?

When your wick is too short but you can get it to light, do so and allow it to burn for at least 20 minutes or until the entire uppermost wax layer melts. If the wick remains too short, put the candle out, pour the liquid wax onto your paper plate, and let it harden. 

Light the wick and try again. Ensure the top of the wax layer melts completely so your wick doesn't start tunneling into the candle. Tunneling causes even more problems that you don’t want!

If getting the wick won't stay lit, use your heat gun to soften and melt some of the wax surrounding the wick and pour it onto your plate or bowl. If you only have a lighter or something like a hairdryer, use that to soften wax surrounding the wick as much as possible, then use a butter knife to scoop as much out as possible.

Light up the wick and let the candle burn again, ensuring the top wax layer melts. 

Don't put candles into your microwave to try and soften the wax. The wick holders tend to be made of metal and could catch fire or ruin your microwave. 

Is Your Candle Wick Buried?

Sometimes the wick is in decent condition but has curled over and gotten buried in the wax. If the wax is still liquid, then grab your tweezers and gently straighten the wick, holding it for 30 seconds or so. Allow the wax to harden as usual, and that's it!

Often, we don't notice that the wick is buried until long after the wax has hardened. Fear not! Your candle isn't ruined. 

Instead of a paper plate, get a piece of foil to avoid the risk of setting it on fire. Hold your candle at an angle over it in one hand and your lighter in the other. Heat the wax and let it drip on the foil until the wick is exposed. Set the candle down, grab your tweezers, and gently pull it up.

If it still doesn't come up, use your butter knife or a paring knife to pry it up from the wax. Scrape the extra wax off the wick so you can light it easily again.   

Preventing Candle Wicks from Getting Too Short

As is the case with everything, prevention is the best. The optimum wick length is about 1/4 of an inch, so if you need to, trim your wick either before lighting your candle or after you free it from its wax prison.

When you light the candle, always let the wax's top layer melt before putting it out. When you let just the wax at the wick melt, you start getting tunneling, which increases the chance that you'll end up having to deal with too short or even a buried wick.

That also makes you burn through your candles too fast.

Promote an Even Burn

If you can ensure your candle wicks burn evenly, you can prevent a wick from getting too short. Do your best to keep your candle out of drafts because that causes the wick to burn unevenly. It can also cause your candles to go out too early, leaving you a tunnel in the wax.

Many times, wicks develop little "mushroom curls," which also help them burn unevenly. That's the perfect time to trim your wick to 1/4 of an inch because you need to trim those little mushrooms off. 

If you do all these things as often as possible, you get an evenly burning wick with a perfectly shaped flame that will help you avoid all the problems we've listed. 

Final Thoughts

You can deal with too short a candle wick or a buried one without tossing out your favorite candles. All you need are a few tools and a way to catch liquid wax, and you can dig the wick out without much trouble. 

Of course, the best way to handle a wick that's too short or buried is to keep it from happening at all. Fortunately, that's not difficult. When you know how to do all of this, you no longer have to deal with this problem!


If you continue having issues with your candle wicks being too short, try upgrading your candles with our collection of high quality scented candles made of premium fragrances, self-trimming wicks and a sustainable soy wax blend inspired by travel!

You Might Also Like:

My Candle Won't Stay Lit! How to Get Your Candle Burning

Candle Care 101: How to Care For Your Candles

How to Fix a Tunneling Candle and Get an Even Burn

How to Burn a Candle All the Way Down

How to Get Candle Wax Out of the Jar Safely

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