Anyone else want to send up an SOS signal (as in, Stamp Out Stress) at the end of a really long, draining day? At home, I sometimes like to imagine that my candles are my own personal beacons: As soon as I strike a match and light my self-care flare, I become my own savior.
As it happens, there’s science to back up my light-dimming ritual. A 2012 study out of Johns Hopkins suggests that chronic exposure to bright light at night could be responsible for elevated stress. To me, that’s a good reason—as if I needed one—to flick off the overheads and spend my nights by candlelight. But every night? That’s a lot of candles. Plus, not every candle emits that perfect radiant glow: Too often, I feel, they give off literal smoke signals, puffing like a chimney, or leave behind rings of wax.
When Abigail Stone, founder of the direct-to-consumer candle brand Otherland, designed her new line of luxe soy- and coconut-blended candles, she put the consumer’s experience first. Beyond making a next-level product, Stone wants to lend her expertise so that you have a next-level experience (what she calls “consumable art”) every time you light up. Seriously, the FAQ section of the Otherland website includes tips for “candle burning perfection.”
Keep scrolling for Stone’s expert tips to make your candle-lit me-time even more Zen.
1. For the first burn, keep it slow and low
The first burn of a candle is like a lot like slow dance. You’ve been eyeing each other from across the room, feeling out how you’ll vibe together, and when you finally strike a match and let it burn, the aroma and the incandescence of the flicker set a mood that gets cozier with every passing second. “On your first light, you want to make sure to liquify the entire top layer of wax,” Stone says. “If you don’t do that, you’ll be left with a memory ring, which causes the wax to tunnel rather than melt evenly.” That means burning it for about an hour, so settle in and don’t rush it.
2. Snip the wick
To keep your candle from puffing, make sure you cut the wick after each use. “It should be very short—roughly an eighth of an inch,” Stone explains “This will ensure that the flame is the right height and no ash forms, which can happen when [too much] wick is exposed.”
3. Know when to blow it out
You really shouldn’t burn for more than three or four hours, max. If you keep it going longer than that, you’ll have a lot of hot wax build-up at the bottom, which could cause a scented candle to lose its potency more quickly.
4. Don’t trash the vase
“You shouldn’t burn it all the way to the ground, but rather stop when there’s a quarter-inch of wax. [That’s when] it’s time to swap it out,” she explains. Because candle vases make excellent pencil cups or makeup-brush holders (especially Otherland’s artful vessels), Stone has a trick to get that lingering layer of wax out: “Put it in the freezer for a couple of hours, and then you can poke it with a dull knife to pop out the wax,” she says. “Wax is very hard to get out of things when it’s melty, so don’t try to heat it up and then pour it out!”