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  • Writer's pictureLily Smith

Why can't I burn a candle for more than 4 hours?

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

Lots of candles come with an emboldened message warning users to never leave it burning for longer than 4 hours. According to the experts, there's a pretty important reason for this...

In this day and age, it's easy to brush off every warning with a chuckle and say 'health and safety has gone mad hasn't it!'. However, when it comes to your candles - you know, those open flames you willingly allow in your home - you might want to pay close attention to the warnings present on the labels.

One key warning is to never burn your candle for longer than 4 hours. This might seem like a very random figure, plucked out of thin air, and merely present due to an obligatory risk assessment - however, the experts have revealed that there are some very important reasons behind that 4-hour window.

Why can't you burn a candle for more than four hours?

If you light a candle in the morning, it might be tempting to leave it happily burning away all day. After all, you know you'll extinguish it before bed, so no harm done - right? Well, by leaving a candle burning for longer than four hours you could be putting your home and your family at risk.

The experts at Good Light Candles explain that burning a candle for more than four hours allows carbon to collect on the wick which causes 'mushrooming'. This can subsequently make the candle 'unstable', and 'lead to a dangerously large flame'. The most obvious consequence of a large, unstable flame? Fire.

It's also worth noting that even without the risk of fire, leaving a candle burning for too long is not great for your candle, its container, your house, or your health, largely due to soot.

Once a candle's wick starts to 'mushroom' and the flame grows, the burn will also become sootier. This soot and smoke will be released into the air for you and your family to inhale, which isn't exactly great for your health.

Even with cleaner-burning candles, like soy, coconut or beeswax candles, the issue of soot will still arise after 3-4 hours, due to the collection of carbon on the wick.

Will I ruin a candle by burning it for 4+ hours?

The experts at Candleers Candle Co. also add that leaving a candle to burn for a very long time can ruin your candle and its container too, as a long burn will often cause the candle to tunnel faster and the wick to move off-center.

'When the wick is off-center, it can make the candle burn unevenly. It also makes one side of the jar incredibly hot.' An uneven burn will cause one side of wax to burn faster, limiting the lifespan of your candle. The container will also become covered with unsightly black soot.

If that wasn't enough, this heat and soot will also do some damage outside of the candle too, both by causing heat damage to the furniture beneath the candle, and covering your walls with a layer of black soot. All in all: leaving a candle burning for 4+ hours is really not worth the many risks.

How can I make my candle last longer?

The best way to get the most out of your candle is to always allow the top layer of wax to melt during each burn and to extinguish it (using a candle snuffer!) after no longer than 4 hours. Following these simple steps will ensure an even, tunnel-free and long-lasting burn for your candles.


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