A candle expert on how to look after your candle

Come November and December, you have probably gifted a candle, been given one, or have lit one; it’s the luxe default present (who says no to a proper luxury candle?) worthy of every occasion. But whether it’s a candle that’s been thoughtfully gifted or self-bought, you want to make it worthwhile and last. In search of strategies for maximising your candle, we tapped Estelle Omnes from Diptyque for her personal tips —learned on the job and at home—on how to look after your high-end candle.

Burn it from properly from the beginning

“A 190 gram Diptyque candle is promised to last for 60 hours when used properly,” says Omnes. “When you first light a candle, burn it for at least two to three hours.” This is to ensure that the wax melts evenly and to the edge and bottom of the candle, or else tunnelling may occur. Tunnelling is when a candle doesn’t burn evenly, so each subsequent burn creates a deeper hole in the candle. “This is most complicated,” says Omnes with a sigh, since it greatly reduces the lifespan of a candle. “Unfortunately, that means next time you have to burn it for a really long period of time, so that the candle catches up with the hole.”

READ MORE: The case for giving skincare as a gift

Don’t blow it

Technically we should not be blowing out candles as it brings out the smell of smoke. Fire professionals also advise against blowing, since sparks in the air can spread. Omnes uses a candle snuffer or the lid of the candle if it comes with one. If not, you could also use a spoon to safely snuff out a candle.

Watch the wick

“Once you have put out the candle, use something like a match to re-centre the wick while the wax is still soft,” says Omnes. This ensures that the candle burns evenly next time. And trim the wick before you next burn it. “When you burn a candle, the wax evaporates, which makes the candle go down, and the wick does not go down at the same speed. You need to cut the wick to only three millimetres.” If you leave your candle burning for more than three hours, Omnes recommends putting out the candle, trimming the wick before re-lighting it, or else the candle will begin to burn the cotton of the wick—“which is what creates the black smoke and blackens the candle holder.” For candle aficionados, it might be worth investing in a wick trimmer. (Chic.)

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For that extra scent in a room, use a room spray

Be aware that a candle is not going to instantly scent a room. “The room spray is most appropriate for this,” she says. The key to fragrant interiors is to use a combination of the two. “The room spray gives you the instant hit. Then light up your candle, the wax melts and release the perfume further.” You could elect to match a room spray to a candle, and Diptyque has numerous fragrances available for this very purpose, or opt to layer the candle with another scent (see more below on scent pairings).

Experiment with layered candle scents

Rather than be restricted to a single candle scent, Omnes encourages scent pairings—burning two candles next to each other or in different rooms. “It’s the art of pairing two candles together, and it’s really about your own taste. There’s no right or wrong combination, it’s up to you because it creates your own signature scent,” she says. A favourite pairing of Omnes at the moment is the popular Baies, traditional rose with luscious blackcurrant leaf, with the newer Menthe Vert candle, a modern take on mint. “You have this beautiful garden smell which is aromatic-feeling and fresh, with this beautiful fruity rose scent on top. It’s perfect for spring and summer, it’s a nice twist. It’s a new way of smelling the Baies candle.”

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How to prep a finished candle vessel for re-use

There are several ways to remove leftover wax from the vessel when the candle has finished burning. Omnes’ favourite is to put the candle in the freezer overnight, which shrinks the wax so it can be easily removed by hand; remove any remnants with alcohol and hot water. Other methods include pouring hot water into the vessel and waiting for the wax to solidify and settle, or microwaving it, which works well but is restrictive for some of the limited-edition candles that may have metallic finishes. Remember to also dispose of the wax safely in the rubbish bin rather than the sink. Omnes uses the smaller empty vessels to store cotton pads or makeup, and turns larger ones into planters. And with a six-year-long career at Diptyque, she does have a significant collection of empty candle vessels at home. “I probably have too many!” she says with a laugh. “But I love it.”


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