Candles have been an indispensable part of almost any household for a long time. While they were initially used for just lighting purposes, their uses have extended to meeting other needs as well such as spreading fragrance around the rooms where they are lit.
When you light a new candle, the candle generates a memory in the melted wax. This memory is referred to as ‘candle memory’ or ‘candle wax memory’. Candle memory represents how the remaining candle will burn and how the wax will melt during its lifetime after the first burn.
The first burn of a candle must be for at least a couple of hours or a little more to prevent tunneling of the candle and the wick from mushrooming. Each successive burn must last for an hour for every one-inch diameter of the candle. If your candle has a diameter of three inches, you should allow it to burn for three hours straight.
Let’s now move on to see the various factors that affect candle memory.
4 Factors affecting candle memory
1. Type of candle
This is one of the foremost criteria that determine candle memory. For instance, a pillar or free-standing candle and a container candle have different burning styles. Pillar candles burn slower than container candles and therefore have a longer burn time.
2. Type of wax
Like the candle type, the kind of wax used for the candle influences the candle memory. Candles made of paraffin wax generally burn quickly because of the low melting point of the wax. However, some paraffin wax candles have a high melting point. Beeswax candles have a very high melting point and take time to burn. Soy wax candles burn slower than paraffin wax candles with a low melting point but faster than beeswax candles.
3. Type of wick
Needless to say, the wick plays a key role in fixing the candle memory. The size, type, and material of the wick determine the burning rate and flame size. Twisted wicks burn quickly while braided wicks burn slowly and consistently. Similarly, small wicks tend to burn slowly and can pave way for candle tunneling and no-wax pool. On the other hand, thick wicks create a large wax pool and make the candle burn fast. This triggers a sooting action.
Most wicks are made of wooden sticks or cotton fibers. However, some candles come with wicks made of other materials such as tin, zinc or paper.
4. Size and shape of candle
The importance of these two factors cannot be undermined. The bigger and/or broader the candle is, the more wicks it should have. If the candle is longer than or has a diameter of four inches, it should ideally have two wicks. A single wick will often not be capable of creating a wax pool.
Similarly, a broad or an oval-shaped candle burns better with two wicks. This spreads the heat uniformly for the wax to burn and melt, resulting in a wax pool.
How to Reset the candle memory
You may have to reset the candle memory if you have not let it burn properly the first time. One sign of improper burning is the candle burns only in the center and not uniformly around it. It will lead to tunneling and getting rid of the hard wax rim alone will not solve the problem. This is when you might want to consider resetting the candle memory. There are a couple of ways in which you can do the resetting process.
Wrap the edges of the container encompassing the lit candle with aluminum foil in a dome-like style for about fifteen minutes to an hour depending on the size of the candle. Alternatively, you can wrap just the top alone. Irrespective of the method you use, make sure you have a little opening at the top for air circulation. This melts the hard wax rim on all sides and traps the heat generated due to the burn resulting in a uniform and decent size wax pool.
It is ideal that you fold the aluminum foil a few times before the wrapping so that it is thick and stays in place around the edges or at the top. You must be careful when taking off the foil as it will be quite hot and you may burn yourself. Also keep in mind that if you use this method for a long period, the glass container tends to get very hot and may break leading to a bigger mess.
You can also re-adjust the memory ring using a powerful hairdryer. Turn ON the hairdryer at its highest setting and run it above the candle top. This allows the air to flow uniformly over the candle top until the top wax layer softens and melts completely.
If you have burnt your candle for the stipulated time but the flame appears to be small or the wax pool has not reached the sides, the problem may be with the wick. It is likely that the wick is too small or clogged. You can try to solve the issue by removing some of the wax piled around the wick before you light the candle the next time. This will make the wick longer and in turn produce a bigger flame. As a result, the wax pool will be bigger and reach out to all the edges of the candle.
Candle Memory is a very important factor especially if you enjoy using a lot of scented candles. The key is to let the candle burn right the first time until the melted wax reaches all the edges of its container. The memory will eventually determine how to spread the fragrance around with each successive burn. Also, you must consider burning the scented candle for the first time only if you are sure that you will be around to make sure that it burns without any hindrance for the stipulated time. As always, you must never leave a burning candle ON overnight or unattended at any point in time.