How to Light a Candle and Get It Right Every Time

Published May 4, 2021
Hand Lighting Candle

Most candles are easy to light, but there are a few instances when it can be a challenge. It may seem like learning how to light a candle is pretty basic, but sometimes there are challenges. A few tips can help you light a candle each time.

Trim Candle Wick Before Lighting

First, check to see if the candle wick length is too long and needs to be trimmed. A quarter inch is the best wick length to ensure a clean and optimal candle burn. Trim a candle wick before every burn.

How to Light a Jar Candle

A cotton flower and a white candle in a glass jar

Sometimes a jar candle can be difficult to light after it has burned down. This can force you to angle a match or lighter so the flame burns toward your fingers. Depending on the size of the candle jar, it may be impossible to getting a match or lighter in and out of the jar. There are a few ways you can light this type of candle without getting burned.

  • Turn the candle upside down at an angle so the wick is positioned over the match or lighter. You want to avoid creating smoke, so you need to turn the jar candle upright as quickly as possible without extinguishing the flame. Once lit, extinguish the match or lighter flame.
  • Light a piece of uncooked dry spaghetti to use like a match. Once your candle is lit, blow out or extinguish the spaghetti flame in water.
  • Pull a piece of straw out of a natural bristle broom and light one end to use as a match. Blow out the flame or extinguish in water once the candle is lit.
  • Use a barbecue lighter, which has a long barrel with the flame igniting the tip when you pull the lighter trigger.
  • Strike a fireplace match. These matches are long and make a great choice for lighting a jar candle wick. Shake or blow out the match once you've lit the candle.

Tips for Lighting a Votive Candle

A votive candle is often sold in a glass holder. Usually, the wick needs to be trimmed. The wick should only be around 1/4" long for the best burn results. For a deep votive candle holder, light the candle with a fireplace match or a barbecue lighter. If you don't have either of these and are using a matchbox match or regular lighter, you may need to tip the candle to light it.

  1. Turn the candle so it is slightly angled.
  2. Light the match or lighter.
  3. Hold the tilted candle so the wick touches the match or lighter flame.
  4. As soon as the wick catches fire, extinguish the match or lighter.
  5. Turn the candle upright and set it down.

Best Way to Light Birthday Candles

Hand Igniting Candle On Cake

Most people use individual matches to light birthday candles. This often means you need to use multiple matches. A typical lighter isn't the ideal way to light birthday candles. Using another candle to light the candles will end up with melted wax falling on the cake. Better choices for lighting the birthday cake candles is a fireplace match, a piece of uncooked spaghetti, or a barbecue lighter. Any of these elongated lighting tools will give you enough burn time to light the candles on most cakes and avoid singed fingertips.

How to Light a Candle Wick Buried in Wax

Illuminated Tea Light Candle

Sometimes, the candle wick curls over and is partially trapped when the melted wax solidifies. You don't want to cut the wick to gain access since this will make the wick too short to burn evenly, if at all. The goal is to soften the wax enough to free the wick from the wax. You won't need to melt the wax unless the wick is buried fairly deeply.

You will need:

  • Hair dryer
  • Tweezers
  • Kitchen matches, barbecue lighter, or fireplace lighter

The first thing to try is to soften the wax with a hair dryer. This is the gentlest way to dislodge the trapped wick. However, if the wick is buried too deeply to be freed by softening the wax, you may need to melt the surrounding wax. The ideal solution is to use a barbecue lighter since it has a long barrel and trigger to better control the flame. You may prefer to use a fireplace match since it is longer than a regular match and gives you more time to melt the wax if necessary. Kitchen matches aren't as long as fireplace matches, but may provide you with enough burn time to melt the wax around the wick.

  1. Hold the flame above the trapped wick to melt the wax, careful not to ignite the wick.
  2. Once the wax around the buried wick has melted, immediately extinguish the match or lighter flame.
  3. Use the tweezers to lift the trapped wick from the melted wax.
  4. When you've freed the wick, you may need to scrape off excess wax from the wick with the tweezers or a piece of paper towel.
  5. The wick is most likely too long and is why it fell into the wax, so you may need to trim it to 1/4" length.
  6. Light the wick and allow the candle to burn for about an hour.

Avoid Drafts When Lighting a Candle

When lighting a candle, make sure there are no drafts to interfere with the flame of a match or lighter. Avoid lighting a candle near a door, window, vent, or ceiling fan. Even if you manage to light the candle in a drafty room, this type of air fluctuations can cause your candle to burn unevenly.

Different Ways to Light Candles

There are several ways to light candles that ensure an even burn. The one common procedure used for each method is to first trim the wick.

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How to Light a Candle and Get It Right Every Time