Candle Memory 101: What Is Candle Memory?

what is candle memory

It is important to make sure that you get the most value from your candles. One thing that can cause problems in this area is candle memory or candle wax memory.

If you do not take certain steps and follow the proper procedure when using your candle, you may be putting the entire thing at risk. The good news is that we can help you avoid any of the issues associated with candle wax memory.

What is candle memory? Candle memory is when a candle “remembers” being burned. If during the first burn, wax only melts across half the surface, then on future burns only that same area will easily melt. This will cause the candle to tunnel the more you use it.

Candle tunneling is what happens when you see a candle burning down the center of a candle, without using any of the wax around the sides.

Candle Wax Memory Explained

Why do candles have memory? Candles have memory because when the wax melts its heat abortion and conductive properties change. When it melts halfway, instead of having one contiguous type of wax, you gain what essentially becomes two types of wax with different properties.

So when the candle is used again in the future, it can easily melt to the point it had previously melted. However, past that point, the waxes are dissimilar and heat is conducted less efficiently beyond that point.

Do all candles have memory? All candles have memory. However, candle wax memory is less important in certain types of candles. For example, in multi-wick candles, candlestick candles, and tealights the heat from the flame is more than enough to melt the surface of the candle, regardless of past use.

Candle Memory Is Affected By The Following Things

  • Size of the candle.
  • Number of wicks.
  • Type of wax.
  • Type of candle.
  • Rate of burn

Size Of The Candle

The larger the candle the more likely it is to experience candle wax memory rings. This is because the larger the candle the longer it usually takes to completely melt the surface wax.

Number Of Wicks

The more wicks a candle has, the less likely it is to experience wax memory issues. That is because the surface wax on the candle will melt faster with multiple wicks than it would with one large wick.

Type Of Wax

The type of wax can also be important when it comes to wax memory rings. If you are using super soft wax such as coconut wax then memory rings will be easier to fix and prevent. However, using a harder wax like paraffin and beeswax will make the problems harder to solve.

Type Of Candle

The type of candle is one of the main factors when it comes to memory ring issues. If you are using votives, tealights, candlestick candles, or pillar candles then it won’t be as much of an issue. The main concern is with large container candles.

Rate Of Burn

The rate of burn is another important factor when it comes to wax memory and tunneling. A wick that gets hot melt and consumes the wax a lot faster than a wick that doesn’t get very hot. This can compound tunneling issues and force you to adjust the strategy you take to remedy tunneling problems.

Fixing Candle Memory Problems

Once you start having problems with candle memory, they can be difficult to solve without putting forward any effort. Basically, if you want to fix the problem, you are going to have to do something.

Ways To Fix Candle Memory Rings

  • Place aluminum foil around the top of the container.
  • Use a candle topper.
  • Use a heat gun.
  • Scoop out excess wax.
  • Use a blowdryer.

Aluminum Foil

Aluminum foil around the top of the candle container will hold heat in. This heat will melt the rest of the surface wax and allow the candle to begin burning as it should.

Candle Topper

Candle toppers work much like placing foil around the top of the container. However, candle topers are much more decorative and some candles are designed to always have a topper.

Heat Gun

You can easily melt the excess wax with a heat gun and pour it out, or at least level out the surface of the candle.

Scoop Out Excess Wax

You can always take a butter knife or a spoon and scrape away the excess trash and then scoop it in to the garbage.

Use A Blowdryer

A blowdryer serves in place of a heat gun. It will allow you to melt, or soften the wax so that you can remove it. Creating a smooth surface for the candle.

Once you have removed enough wax to make the surface of the candle smooth, and the wick is of the correct length, you are ready to light your candle again.

This time let the candle burn until the wax completely melts from one side of the container to the other. Once the surface of the candle completely melts, then you can blow out the candle.

Preventing Candle Memory Problems

The good news is that candle memory problems can be completely avoided if you follow the manufacturer suggested burning practices.

These practices will differ based on the candle type and the manufacturer, but a few things remain true across all manufacturers.

How to prevent candle memory rings? You can prevent candle memory rings by letting your candle burn long enough to melt the wax across the surface of the candle the first time you use it. This initial burn will make it easier for the candle to follow that pattern during all subsequent burns.

As mentioned above, following the manufacturer suggested burning practices is one way to prevent any candle memory issues. Let’s take a look at the right way to burn a candle.

What is the right way to burn a candle? Burn the candle for 1 hour for every 1 inch in diameter. This means if the candle is two inches in diameter, you should burn it for at least 2 hours. If the candle is 1 inch in diameter you should burn it for at least 1 hour. However, this number can change if your candle has more than 1 wick.

Candle Memory Last Resort

If you do not want to make a mess trying to scoop out candle wax or trying to level out your candle, you still have options. Let’s take a look at what you can do with a candle that will not stay lit.

What do you do with a candle that won’t stay lit? You can put your candle in a candle warmer if it will not stay lit, but you still want to enjoy it. Putting a candle that will not stay lit into a candle warmer is a great way to enjoy the fragrance of a scented candle and still get your money’s worth.

If you are interested in learning some more about candle warmers you can check out our article titled Candle Warmers 101. It really breaks down a lot of the need-to-know information on candle warmers.

Basically, a candle warmer will melt all of the wax in your candle, which heats up the fragrance oil and allows you to still enjoy your expensive scented candles.

The best part about candle warmers is that you can use them while you are sleeping, unlike regular scented candles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does wax have memory?

Wax does have memory. Wax memory is an important fact to remember as a candle maker or as someone that loves using candles. All wax has memory and the way in which you use it the first time will dictate how it responds during all future uses.

Should pillar candles tunnel?

Pillar candles should not tunnel, however, sometimes pillar candles can form a “well” where the outside of the candle is not melting as it burns down.

How do you fix a tunneling pillar candle?

Fix a tunneling pillar candle by pressing in the soft sides as the candle burns down. This will force the outside edges of the candle to melt. However, if there is so much wax that it may drown out the flame, you can always simply remove the soft sides of the candle.


In conclusion, candle wax memory problems and wax tunneling issues are not fun for anyone. It all comes down to burn practices and how long you let your candles burn before blowing them out.

If you always let your candle burn until the surface wax has completely melted from one side of the container to the other then you will never experience candle memory problems. However, if you like to light a candle for 15 min while getting ready for bed or when you get home from work, then chances are you are going to have issues.

Just do the best you can to burn your candle for at least 1 hour every time you light them, keep the wick trimmed to about 1/4 of an inch and never let your candle burn longer than 4 hours at a time and you should be in good shape.

Carl Adamson

Hi, I'm Carl Adamson, one of the founders here at Candleers. A few years ago I got really into the art and craft of candle making, initially with soy wax container candles. My friends started asking me to make candles for them and pretty soon it turned into a nice side-business. I started this website as a way to document what I've learned over the past few years and hopefully help others in the process. I still love candle making but I'm learning that what I enjoy even more is the business side of things - and for this reason I've started consulting others on how to start and grow their own candle-making businesses and side-hustles.

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