Why Won’t My Candle Stay Lit?

why wont my candle stay lit

As someone that loves candles and spends quite a bit of money on them, it is very disappointing when you have a candle that will not stay lit. This problem can come with a variety of causes, however, I’ve found that it is usually caused by two or three issues. Let’s take a closer look at why your candle won’t stay lit.

Why won’t my candle stay lit? If your candle won’t stay lit it is most likely because the wick is too short or the candle is beginning to burn down into the center of the candle. When your wick becomes too short the wax around it begins to drown it out. This issue is often called candle tunneling or candle memory rings.

Candle tunneling is a phenomenon where the wick has ‘tunneled’, or dropped down below where the hard wax is and is literally drowning in its own molten wax.

In this case, the wax is being melted faster than the flame can burn it off- it gets overwhelmed and dies out in the process.

Homemade Candle Won’t Stay Lit

Why don’t my homemade candles stay lit? If your candle is homemade you may have used the wrong size wick in the candle. This can cause the flame to drown in the molten wax. In addition, the length of the wick is important, as is the wax material you use in your homemade candles. In situations like this, it is almost always a wick issue.

The good news is that it’s fairly easy to fix a non-lighting candle. You just need to determine the cause of the problem and do the right solution. There’s also a tool you can use if the stubborn candle still won’t light up.

Reasons A Candle Won’t Stay Lit

  • Wick is too short.
  • Wick is too small.
  • Wax is too hard.
  • Candle is tunneling.
  • Wick is wet.

These are the most common reasons a candle will not stay lit, with a short wick and tunneling being the most likely suspects.

Wick is too short. The wick may have been trimmed too short, which can cause burning problems.

Wick is too small. When the candle was made a wick with too small a diameter may have been used.

Wax is too hard. The blend of wax might contain too much palm, paraffin or beeswax making the wax too hard.

Candle is tunneling. The candle may have not been burned long enough, which creates tunneling issues.

Wick is wet. If the candle is in your kitchen, bathroom or outside where the wick can be exposed to moisture, it may have drawn moisture which is preventing the wick from burning properly.

Fixing A Candle That Wont Stay Lit

What Do You Do If a Candle Won’t Stay Lit? If your candle will not stay lit, first determine if it is because it is tunneling or if it is because the wick is too small. These two problems will appear in a much similar way upon the first inspection. The solutions will be similar but only one of them will be fixed.

As mentioned above, if it is tunneling, the candle’s edges will be significantly higher compared to its core. Then, take a look at the wick itself. Is it charred, too long, or too short?

One way to prevent a candle from not lighting up is giving it a nice, long first burn. Once a candle is lit, allow the wax to melt the wax-up to the edges, which prevents it from burning downwards and creating the tunneling effect.

How to Fix a Candle That Won’t Stay Lit? Fix a candle that won’t stay lit by removing excess wax across the surface of the candle until the candle wick is of a normal length and there is no longer a memory ring on the surface of the candle. Light the candle and let it burn until it fully melts from one side of the candle to the other.

Fixing a candle that won’t light up depends on the cause. If the wick is buried deep inside the wax and won’t catch a flame, you should first drain the excess liquid or dab at the soft parts until there’s space for it to operate. Then, try to see if it will catch a flame next time.

If the candle wick is too short, clear some space around it using a lighter, match or something similar. Alternatively, if the wick is abnormally long you’ll want to trim it a bit by removing the charred parts using a scissor.

Once all these are done, try to light the candle again and it should work. In cases of severe tunneling and you’re averse to removing the unmelted wax because it’s scented or expensive, here’s what you can do.

Rescuing A Candle That Won’t Stay Lit

How to Save a Candle That Won’t Stay Lit? If you’ve done everything and the candle still won’t catch a flame, don’t throw it away just yet. You can still enjoy the candle and its scent by using a candle warmer. Basically, it’s a tool that plugs in electronically and heats up the candle’s wax so that it melts, and the scent will be released.

This way, the candle won’t be wasted and can still work even if it won’t light up.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean when your candle won’t stay lit?

If your candle won’t stay lit then it means your candle wick is experiencing issues burning properly. The most likely cause is bad candle memory from improper burning practices or a wick that is the wrong size for the candle.

Why does my candle not burn properly?

If your candle is not burning properly then it is missing one of the three sides of the fire triangle. It is not getting enough oxygen, fuel, or heat. The likely cause is a wick that is drowning in molten wax due to candle tunneling, an over-trimmed wick, or a wick that is too small.


In conclusion, it is disappointing when your candle won’t stay lit. However, the good news is that you have a few options to remedy the situation.

A candle not staying lit is generally caused by candle tunneling or because the candle maker used a wick that is too small.

If your candle is tunneling, you can fix it by scraping away all of the excess wax on the surface of the candle, lighting it, and letting it burn until the wax has melted all the way across the surface of the candle. This will give the candle good “memory”.

If the candle won’t stay lit because the wick is too small then your only option is to use the candle in a candle warmer.

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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