The importance of the wax pool


Candle nerds unite!  I do wonder if this blog is the first time in the history of mankind that the term “candle nerds” has been used.  It’s gotta be, right?

So before we get into awesome wax pools I’ve got to tell you this story.  Right before I started writing this blog post I had to change my two year old’s diaper.  Before I start she tells me, “You’ve got to clean my bottom, daddy”.  Okay.   It was pretty funny, but at the same time I’m thinking to myself we’ve really got to kick it up a notch in the potty training.  Seriously.

Lol sorry, TMI!  Okay, so let’s talk about candle wax pools and the importance of them in getting the most out of your candle. To start with we should explain exactly what a wax pool is.  It’s far from rocket science and pretty much self explanatory!  It’s the melted wax that results from burning your candle.  The longer you burn your candle the larger the wax pool in your candle will get.  Well, let me qualify by saying this is mostly true.. I’ve found in larger jar candles, especially those left uncovered by a candle topper (see my post about the importance of candle toppers) will sometimes reach an equilibrium where the heat generated by the candle flame eventually creates a pool that just won’t grow any larger.  Annoying!  But for this post let’s assume that it’s true that the longer you burn your candle the larger the wax pool becomes.

First take a look at the picture here to see the ideal wax pool.  Woohoo what a thing of beauty!  You can see the wax pool in that candle reaches all the way to the outer edges of the jar and is about 1/4 of an inch deep.  That’s exactly what you want when burning candles to get the most life out of them.  To achieve this you typically have to burn the candles for about one hour for every inch in diameter of the candle.  Pro tip:  The larger the wax pool the stronger the scent (scent throw) will be.

NOW THIS IS IMPORTANT:  When you decide to light a candle for the first time you are going to want to ensure the wax pool reaches all the way (or close) to the edges of the candle container!!!  So during the first burn of your candle it is extremely important to let a wax pool form as close to the edges as possible, if not all the way.  If you don’t then your candle will have a tendency to form what is known as a memory ring of where your first burn wax pool formed to and they will tunnel in subsequent burns.  Tunneling is no bueno and a small memory ring is your worst enemy when burning a candle.  Why is this?  Well, the next time you burn your candle, no matter how long you burn it for, the wax pool will more than likely only burn to the edges of where the first memory ring was established.

PictureThis is NO BUENO!

Why does this suck?  Well it’s because you’ll end up not burning through most of the wax in your candle and subsequent burns will cause it to tunnel.  See the picture of what a tunneling candle looks like.  Candles need the wax to burn and by not allowing the candle to access all of the wax it will cause your candle to essentially waste all that wax that doesn’t burn so basically it’s lifespan will be significantly reduced.  It’s akin to throwing money into a shredder!!!

So if you’ve got a large candle make sure you have several hours to allow it to burn to create a formidable wax pool each time you light it.  If not you’re going to end up not getting the most out of that glorious ambiance machine.  Jar candles are especially susceptible.  If you’ve only got a short time to burn a candle I recommend burning a votive or a taper candle.  You’ll get your moneys worth.

Now at this point you may find you’re saying to yourself that you don’t mind not getting the most of your candle.  But wait!  A tunneling candle poses another significant threat to the life of your relaxing candle.  As candles tunnel the wax gets melted from the sides of the tunnel and will eventually drown your flame!  You will not be able to burn a candle for a decent length of time that has started to tunnel.  The flames will be drown in the wax pool at the bottom of the tunnel!

So get it together folks!  Make sure you are burning your candles, especially the larger candles, to the point where the wax pool contacts the edges.  This way you’ll get the most value for your candles.  If burning a large candle consider using a jar topper (future post to discuss is coming!) to help the candle along in forming its wax pool.

I hope this article was helpful and as always post any questions or comments you have in the comments section!  Happy burning!


  1. Pingback: Ranger Station Supply Co.’s Leather + Pine Candle Review – The Candle Review

  2. Mich Nicholas

    A good way to reuse the remaining wax left at the bottom of any candle is to create your very own wax melts. This can be done by watching videos on YouTube, melting the remaining wax in the jar on top of stove in hot water, pouring into silicon molds, then freeze. You can use these instead of wasting the small amount in the jar. Hope this helps, learned this recently, and a good way to use all of the wax without wasting your money…

  3. Jono


    I have a similar question to Javier’s – my candle is pooling with a lot of wax to the point where the flame is sputtering. Is this being caused because my wick is too long? Do I need to trim it so the wax pool doesn’t get so deep? And secondly, should I be pouring out all that liquid wax after I blow the candle out or should I leave it in to re-solidify afterwards? Thirdly, what’s your opinion on blowing vs using a candle snuffer?


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  5. Javier

    Hi there! I’m currently facing a dilemma where the candle i’ve made is working fine, but the wax pool literally takes up the whole candle itself. Basically, my candle’s wax pool is all the way to the bottom and all the wax have melted. I was wondering if that’s a good thing or not because as you have mentioned, that having a large wax pool would entail that the scent throw would be much stronger. And if it poses as a problem, please do advise me on how to improve on the ingredients i’m using or where i have err in.
    P.S ( I’m using a wooden wick and also soy wax for my candles)

    1. Erin

      Javier, this could be both good and bad, for a few reasons.

      As mentioned above in the post, a larger (width and height) wax pool means better scent throw. This occurs as the scent molecules (which are different from the wax molecules) are released into the air from the surface of the pool and we smell them as fragrance. If your melted wax pool is deeper, more of those odor molecules will be rising to the surface & volatilizing off. The width of the surface area of melted wax on top does have a greater influence than the depth of the melted pool, but both contribute.

      But this also means that later on you may end up with more wax left over than appreciable scent. Or the scent will change as the relative proportion of different types of scent molecules will have changed. Most candle scents are made of a blend of many different kinds, and they all have different weights. They can volatilize off at different times. Usually this is not noticeable, as the candles have been designed to deal with this problem.

      But when a candle is burned for too long (most scented candle manufacturers suggest to burn a candle for somewhere in between 2-4 hours), this balance can be thrown off. The scent profile changes as some of the scent molecules have volatilized off faster & others remain, in a different proportion than the candle was originally formulated. Usually it is not an improvement in smell. In my experience it tends to be more “waxy” & “cheap candle” in scent.

      I have noticed the wood wick candles I have do tend to pool very quickly & deeply. It seems the wood wicks have to be trimmed more often & more severely than with traditional wicks. For myself, once I see the pool has reached the edge of the container & been there for a while (say, 15-30 minutes), I will allow the heat to be reduced so it is not burning so fast. In my experience, as long as the candle is allowed to completely pool out for at least a short time each time I burn it, tunneling is not a problem.

      I reduce the heat in the candle by trimming the wick again & the immediately relighting. And/or I will take any candle topper or aluminum foil off. In either case, the melted wax pool tends to be smaller. Some of the wax around the very edges may harden up again while the candle continues to burn, but that is ok.

      HOWEVER, JUST A REMINDER- all this advice goes out the window when your candle is low. Definitely follow the manufacturer’s instructions about when to stop burning your candle and discarding it. An exploding candle (glass busting because the wax is low & the glass got too hot) is no fun for anyone. A hassle to clean up & dangerous. I believe most of my candles say to discard when there is 1/2″ of wax left. Be sure to check the instructions on your candles when burning.


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