Candle Wick Too Short? How to Prevent and Fix a Short Candle Wick

You were all ready to light your favorite candle, only to come to a disappointing realization: The wick is too short to light. Don’t give up yet, though, because there are things you can do to both prevent and fix a short candle wick. Read on to discover what to do about a too short candle wick.

closeup view burning candle wick

Source: Michael L Britton/

How to Prevent a Short Candle Wick

To promote an even burn, it’s important to trim the candle wick to between ⅛” and ¼” before you light it each time. However, be very careful not to cut the wick too close or else you might end up having to utilize some of the other tips on this list in order to fix it. You can use scissors or nail clippers to get the job done, or purchase a dedicated candle wick trimmer if you’re feeling fancy.

Whenever you light the candle, let it burn for long enough to completely melt the top layer of wax (though never let a candle burn longer than four hours, which can cause the wax to overheat). This prevents tunneling, whereby only the centermost portion of wax is melted. Wax has memory, and after the first few times, tunneling is hard to stop. Not only does tunneling burn down your candles faster, it also causes issues with wicks and may result in the wick becoming too short.

To promote an even burn and prevent tunneling, you should keep the candle away from draft, which can cause the candle to burn unevenly or blow out the flame before the entire top layer of wax has time to melt. Trimming the candle will also help promote an even burn. If you leave the little “mushroom” curls at the top of the wick, you will end up with a lumpy flame that does not burn evenly. So trim that wick and bask in the glory of your perfectly shaped candle flame!

candle wick burning curling focus

Source: D K Grove/

How to Fix a Short Candle Wick

Maybe your candle wick is already too short, and you’re wondering how to fix it. Try these methods depending on how short the wick is:

If you can still light the wick: Light the candle and let it burn for 20 to 30 minutes while keeping an eye on it to see how it’s doing. If the problem doesn’t resolve itself, carefully blow out the candle and pour out the wax on a disposable plate or bowl. Let it cool and then dispose of the wax. You can also soak up the melted wax with paper towels if you don’t want to pour it. Relight the wick on the candle and leave it to burn. Check in on it periodically to see how the flame looks. If the candle seems to be doing well, leave it to burn until the first layer of wax is completely melted. Remember that you don’t want to create any candle tunneling! Once enough wax has melted, blow out the flame and leave the wax to cool around the newly exposed wick.

If you can’t light the wick: Use a heat gun to melt the wax around the candle wick and then pour it out and repeat the process outlined above. If you don’t have a heat gun, you can soften the wax using a hair dryer or candle lighter and then scoop it out with a spoon or a butter knife. Don’t try putting the candle in the microwave, as a metal tab is used to hold the wick in place and it might catch fire.

trimming wick of burnt candle

Source: Mic.H/

If the wick is buried: Sometimes a candle wick is actually long enough, but it gets bent over while the wax is melted and then there isn’t enough left sticking out in order to be lit. Melt the wax around the wick using a heat gun or candle lighter. Once the wax is thoroughly melted, use tweezers to carefully lift the wick up out of the wax. Be careful not to break the wick as it might be fragile. Let the wax harden around the wick. You might need to prop the wick up while the candle cools. Trim the wick before lighting the candle next time to prevent this problem from happening again.

If you have a candle wick that’s too short, don’t panic. Try one of these three methods to fix your candle and light it again. And don’t forget to follow the tips to prevent a too short candle wick from happening in the first place!