How to Fix Candle Tunneling (and Prevent It from Happening Again)

Updated: Mar. 21, 2024

There's a quick fix to prevent candle tunneling, aka uneven wax melt. Here's what to do!

It’s ugly, it’s frustrating and it’s definitely happened to all of us at least once: candle tunneling. If you’re a big Christmas candle burner like I am, you’ve encountered a candle or two that just refuses to melt all the way around. That’s the tunneling part—a solid wall of wax around the inside of the candle jar that just won’t go away.

It usually happens when you don’t allow a new candle to burn long enough the first time you use it. It can also happen if a wick isn’t large enough or it’s off-center.

How to Fix Candle Tunneling

Here are a few quick and easy tips to resolve this annoying issue.

Use Aluminum Foil

My favorite kind of fix is one that only requires items I have in my house. Take some aluminum foil and wrap it around the outside edge of the candle. The trick here is to make sure the foil reaches over the tunneled wax. You’ll also want to keep an open center so the flame can continue to burn as usual.

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The aluminum foil allows the flame to stay even and continuously radiate heat, and the foil also helps to retain heat to help melt the leftover wax. Ellie Martin Cliffe, our executive editor, tested this and swears by its magic. “I tried the aluminum foil trick over the weekend and it worked beautifully,” she says.

Buy a Candle Topper

Yankee Candle ToppersCourtesy Jane Licwinko

Candle toppers are cute, open metal lids that often have intricate designs. Like the aluminum foil, they help keep the flames protected from wind and drafts so the wax can melt evenly. On top of that, they’re so adorable. You can grab Christmas-themed ones like this snowman design or this snowflake design as well as everyday designs like this beautiful scalloped topper.

It’s important to note that candle toppers work best on larger candles with a single wick.

How to Prevent Candle Tunneling

There are a few ways to prevent tunneling and help your candles last longer.

Remember to trim your wicks regularly and keep candles away from drafty windows. When using a candle for the first time, remember to let the candle burn for long enough that the entire top of the candle melts into an even pool (usually several hours). Three-wick candles tend to burn the best and shouldn’t have an issue with tunneling.

Now that you’ve got all the info you need, treat yourself to a new Christmas scent this holiday season. You deserve it!