16 Ways You Didn’t Know to Use Candles

16 Ways You Didn’t Know to Use Candles
Photo: FotoHelin, Shutterstock

Candles make for a great ambiance, make a room smell nice, and they come in handy when the power goes out. We love their versatility, and naturally, that comes with some hacks — whether it’s inventive ways to remove wax after the wick has burned down, or ways to use the empty glass container after a candle burns out. Here are some of our favourite ways to make your candles even better.

Use a hair dryer to fix a candle that won’t light

Photo: Chakrit Yenti, ShutterstockPhoto: Chakrit Yenti, Shutterstock

If you’ve ever tried to save a candle whose wick is short and stubby, digging it out with a spoon can be infuriating. Instead, take a hairdryer on high heat and melt the candle wax. Keep the hairdryer on the candle until there’s a thick layer of melted wax, dump the liquid wax in a paper towel, and continue to do it until enough of the wick is exposed to light the candle.

Use A Hair Dryer To Fix A Candle That Won’t Light

If you have a candle with a buried wick there’s no need to go digging around. This simple trick will get your candle lighting in no time.

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Trim your candle wicks before each burn

Photo: Enjoy The Life, ShutterstockPhoto: Enjoy The Life, Shutterstock

Clipping the wick of the candle before each burn prevents the flame from reaching dangerous heights. A nail clipper works well if the candle is housed in a deep container or jar. Otherwise, regular scissors will do — Candlemakers Candelaria says that cutting the wick within one-fourth of an inch from the wax offers the perfect burn.

Why You Should Trim Your Candle Wicks Before Each Burn

Aside from ensuring you don’t light them near curtains or any other potential fire hazard, there are proper ways to light candles. For example, you should trim your wick before each burn. Here’s why.

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Make a prettier citronella candle with fresh herbs

Photo: Risen20019, ShutterstockPhoto: Risen20019, Shutterstock

Citronella candles aren’t exactly the good-looking centrepiece to your spring or summer cookout, but you can make them that way — all you will need is citronella oil, a floating candle, lemon, essential oils, and herbs. Use herbs and essential oils like lavender, lemongrass, and eucalyptus that naturally repel mosquitos, and give you added pest protection:

Fill your jar 3/4 up with water, add about 20 drops of oil, and shove your herbs and citrus down in there. Top it all with a floating candle, light, and enjoy the last (bug-free) bit of summer.

Make A Prettier Citronella Candle With Fresh Herbs

Nothing ruins a good time out-of-doors like stupid bugs. Citronella candles help stave them off, but store-bought ones can be ugly. For a bug-fighting flame that does double duty as a centrepiece, make your own in a mason jar.

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Check a candle’s burn time before buying

Photo: Vectorpocket, ShutterstockPhoto: Vectorpocket, Shutterstock

“Burn time” is the amount of time a candle can last, but it actually doesn’t coincide with the size or weight of the candle. Two candles of the same size could burn at very different rates depending on the candle’s shape, hardness of the wax, wick size, and more. Before buying, check a candle label to see if it indicates the burn rate, or google it to find its listed burn rate.

Clean wax from carpet with a hair dryer and paper towel

Photo: Xplorer Photography, ShutterstockPhoto: Xplorer Photography, Shutterstock

Spilling hot wax on your carpet is frustrating, but cleaning it up isn’t a lost cause. Lay a paper towel over the spilled wax and aim a hairdryer on high heat. While the wax heats up, you should see the paper towel absorb the wax, and you can repeat as many times as needed until the carpet is wax-free. This also works on cloth with an iron and a paper bag, too.

Remove Candle Wax From Your Carpet With A Hair Dryer And Paper Towels

Video: Don’t cry over spilled candle wax. You can pull it out of your carpet quickly and easily with some paper towels and a hair dryer.

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Clean dusty old candles with rubbing alcohol

Photo: Aksenova Natalya, ShutterstockPhoto: Aksenova Natalya, Shutterstock

Cleaning a dusty candle can seem as difficult as cleaning wax from household items, but you just need the right tools. Dab a cotton ball or cloth with isopropyl alcohol to wipe down the candle, removing any caked on dust and dirt. Don’t be afraid to scrub as much as needed to really clean out the crevices.

Make DIY candles for cheap with leftover milk cartons

Photo: Nataliia Trytenichenko, ShutterstockPhoto: Nataliia Trytenichenko, Shutterstock

You can obviously spend a little money on store-bought candles, but you could also make your own with just blocks, wicks, and old milk cartons to make your own.

Cut the top of the carton down to the desired candle length and place the candle wick in the middle of the carton (I suggest using the wooden wicks since they stand up on their own). Then, boil water in a pot with a smaller metal bowl or container on top, and place the wax blocks in the metal bowl so the heat from the water melts the wax. Once the wax is melted, use a pot holder or heat-protective glove to pick up the bowl and pour the wax into the carton. Once it’s cooled down, it’ll harden, and you’ll have your brand-new DIY candle.

Make Your Own Homemade Candles With Leftover Milk Cartons

Classy candles can be expensive. You can create your own stylish candles cheaply at home using leftover milk cartons.

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Just soak corks in alcohol

Photo: Kati Finell, ShutterstockPhoto: Kati Finell, Shutterstock

Soaking corks in alcohol makes great fire starters, so why not make your own candles with the corks you have lying around? Soak the corks in rubbing alcohol for anywhere from couple of days to an entire week, and place the cork in a candle holder and light it up.

Soak Corks In Alcohol To Make Cheap Candles

Wine and candles go together like chocolate and Valentine’s Day. Once you pop open the bottle, save the cork (if it has one). You can turn it into a cheap candle later.

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Clean and de-wax your menorah

Photo: Christina Moraes, ShutterstockPhoto: Christina Moraes, Shutterstock

The extended burning of menorah candles can leave quite a bit of to clean up once the holiday ends. To make it easier beforehand, you can spray the menorah with cooking spray.

For an easier clean up afterwards, you can freeze your menorah as long as it isn’t glass or any material that cracks in cold temperatures, and once the wax is frozen it’ll break off easily. You can also melt off the wax with a hairdryer, or soak the menorah in hot water in the sink or bathtub. If all else fails, you can buy wax remover, but that isn’t exactly a hack, is it?

Make a new candle from all of your used ones

Photo: FotoHelin, ShutterstockPhoto: FotoHelin, Shutterstock

Put the remnants of your old candles together on a baking sheet and place them in the oven at a low temperature. Hot glue a wick to the bottom of an empty candle holder, or place a wooden wick in the centre of the container, and just pour the old wax into a new candle holder to make a brand new one.

Place an ice cube on hardened wax

Photo: AngieYeoh, ShutterstockPhoto: AngieYeoh, Shutterstock

Cleaning spilled wax from hard surfaces is sometimes as easy as it cracking off, but if the wax is stubborn, put a cube of ice on top of the hardened wax for two minutes. Take the ice cube away and use an old credit card or butter knife to scrape it away more easily.

Place An Ice Cube On Hardened Wax For Quick Removal

Sometimes candles drip wax beyond their designated area and said wax hardens on your table. Scraping it off can take some work and leave a residue, but you can avoid all of that trouble with an ice cube and a plastic card.

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Use a candle to weatherproof shipping labels

Photo: Natalie Board, ShutterstockPhoto: Natalie Board, Shutterstock

You can pretend you’re an old Victorian-era writer by using a wax seal on an envelope, but the modern equivalent might be using one to waterproof your shipping label. Once the ink has dried on your shipping label, rub the flat end of the candle on the address label creating a thin layer of wax to ensure your package slip won’t be damaged on travel by rain.

Freeze candles to make them last twice as long

Photo: Kati Finell, ShutterstockPhoto: Kati Finell, Shutterstock

Freezing candles can lengthen the life of your candle, as the frozen wax burns slower and drips less in the process. “The thinner the candle, the less time it needs to spend in the freezer,” says professional contractor and handyman Bob Vila. “While a thick pillar candle might take six or eight hours to freeze, a thin taper might be ready within an hour or less.”

Use a little water to keep candles from sticking to their containers

Photo: Gekko Gallery, ShutterstockPhoto: Gekko Gallery, Shutterstock

Working in food service, you pick up a few tricks, and how to quickly remove candles is one of them. Placing water in your candle holders before lighting candles prevents the wax from sticking to the holder and makes for easier removal later. This works best with tea candles, but can be useful for any type.

Turn used candle jars into mini planters

Photo: panattar, ShutterstockPhoto: panattar, Shutterstock

Empty old wax from your candle holders, and once the jars are completely clean, you can transfer a plant. Lifehacker’s Elizabeth Yuko notes, “Jars from three-wick candles (like the kind from Bath & Body Works) are the perfect fit for four-inch potted plants,” and suggests putting the full plant in the pot “including the plastic grow pot it comes in.”

Light candles with dry spaghetti

Photo: llaszlo, ShutterstockPhoto: llaszlo, Shutterstock

If you ever run out of matches and your campfire lighter is out of fuel, an uncooked spaghetti noodle is an easy way to light a candle. The spaghetti will burn long enough to light candles at the bottom of tall candle holders, and it’s safer than many alternatives, like lighting a piece of paper.

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