How to Extend a Candle Wick

photo of candle on wooden tray
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We’ve all been there—you go to light your favorite candle, only to find that the wick is covered in wax. But don’t throw out that candle just yet! If you can still see the wick, but it’s too short to light, try adding a makeshift paper or wooden wick to burn off some of the wax. If the wick is completely covered with wax, replace the wick to save your candle!

Dig out the wick if it’s covered in a bit of wax. 

  • If the wick is buried just under the surface of the wax, use a spoon or a butter knife to scrape away the wax until the wick is exposed carefully. You could also use a lighter or a hairdryer to melt the wax—pour the excess wax into a separate heat-safe container. The new wick needs to sit right beside the old one, which is why it’s crucial to dig the existing wick out from underneath the wax.
  • Don’t just try to dig a deep enough hole into burning the wick—the candle will burn down in a tunnel, and the wax will eventually drown the wick again.

Melt some candle wax in a wax warmer or double boiler. 

  • The easiest way to melt wax is to put it in a wax warmer, but if you don’t have one, set up a double-boiler—fill one pot with water and put it on to boil, then set a metal bowl or another pot inside the first one, so it’s just touching the boiling water. Place the wax inside the second bowl and stir it frequently until it melts. Use the wax you scraped or melted out of your candle, or scrape some wax out of another old candle if you have one on hand.
  • No matter which type of wick you’re making, it’s best to dip it in wax first. This will help it burn more slowly and evenly.

Make a paper wick if you need a little extra length. 

  •  For a quick way to fix a short wick, take a scrap of paper and roll it up tightly. Choose a thicker paper, like a notebook or copy paper, since it will burn more slowly. You can even use toilet paper or a paper towel if that’s all you have on hand. However, avoid using colored paper or a page from a magazine—the fumes from the ink can be toxic. 
  • You’ll only need the wick to be about 1⁄4–1⁄2 in (0.64–1.27 cm), but it’s okay to roll it longer if it’s easier. You can trim it down later.

Opt for a wooden wick if the old wick is very short

  • If your wick is just barely sticking up, you’ll need a sturdier wooden wick so you can push it deeper down into the wax. Use a toothpick, matchstick, wooden skewer—whatever thin piece of wood you have on hand.

Use tweezers to dip the wick into the melted wax. 

  • Carefully lower your paper or wooden wick into the bowl with your melted wax. Use the tweezers to turn the wick back and forth, ensuring it’s completely coated. If you’re using a paper wick, keep a grip on it with the tweezers, so it doesn’t come unrolled.
  • Once the wick is coated in the wax, remove it and let it cool for about 5 minutes or until the wax hardens.

Press the wick into the candle wax

  • If you’re using a paper wick, wrap it around the existing wick, then gently press just the very bottom into the softened wax. If you have a wooden wick, place it beside the old wick and push it deep down into the candle.

Light the wick, then pour off the wax once it melts

Try to let your new wick burn long enough for the wax to melt across the surface of the candle. Then, pour the melted wax into the same container you used to melt your wax earlier. Keep doing that until the old wick is long enough to use again!

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