HGTV Magazine

Candle FAQ s

Answers to all your—wait for it—burning questions.


Q: Why do candles smoke?

A: Think of the wick as a bridge between the flame and the wax. When it’s long, it’s harder to draw wax up, which means the flame burns the string instead and you get (harmless) black smoke.

Q: OK, so how short should I snip?

A: Using a clean pair of scissors or a wick trimmer for chic points, cut the string so it’s about 1/4 inch above the wax.

Q: Is it always necessary to display a pair of tapers?

A: Nope! While a duo on a dining table is a forever classic, we also love a mantel lineup of various lights. Stagger heights, alternate textures, and mix colors and finishes for the perfect unfussy look.

Q: How do I get my candle to stay put in the holder?

A: Hold a flame to the bottom for a few seconds to slightly melt it, then press the softened candle into the holder until it feels secure. If your holder is somewhat bigger than your candle, try adhesive such as Stick-Um (available on Amazon).

Q: What’s the least annoying way to excavate an old nub of a candle?

A: An emery board will help separate the wax from the holder so you can pry the clump out. If that doesn’t work, place the holder in the sink and pour hot (not boiling—it can damage the holder) water on the holder to soften. Then give it another good dig.

Q: Flameless candles: yay or nay?

A: They’ve come a long way! With truer “flame” colors and flickers, they look more like the real thing these days and are a great solution for homes with kids or klutzes. Pottery Barn and Sandstone & Sage have good ones.

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