Our ancestors, farther back then we can remember, have been using fire to keep them warm, keep the dark at bay and all the predators that loved that time of day to hunt, and for a means of seeing for longer as the days grew shorter. One of the means that they brightened the night was by means of candles. They’re lives were dependent upon those candles, so they learned to make them, and get the most out of those wax sticks which were their link to light.

Sadly, we, after the advent of electricity, have lost a lot of the knowledge our forefathers strove so hard to garner about candles and their use. Even I, as I researched for this article, was amazed to find how much I didn’t know about the use of candles; including the right and wrong ways to use them.

Even though we, as a world, do not depend upon those wonderful sticks of wax for our evening events, safety, or extending our working days like our ancestors, candles will never be totally phased out of our lives completely. Today, we can find candles used to create a romantic mood, when the power goes out, for a birthday cake, or even for some of our spiritual or religious events. Since we don’t have the knowledge that was developed through the dire need our ancestors had we owe it to our present- day to share what’s been lost.

So here are a few things that you should know about using candles properly. These tips are mostly for the candles that are encased in their own containers completely. They, it seems, may pose more risk when improperly used. Most people will agree that these are the types of candles that are more widely used now.

*Never Leave A Candle Burning When Sleeping or Unattended

Never leave a candle burning unattended, or when you’re sleeping. Okay, this tip is just common sense. When you leave a flame unattended fire from its flame can spread, eating its way through all you know and love. This tip is not just a tip but a safety measure that all candle users should observe for their safety, the safety of their family, and possibly for the safety of the people who live in their building–if they live in an apartment or condo complex.

There is also another aspect of burning a candle for too long that I wasn’t aware of, and that is the buildup of carbon from the flame. Burning a candle for more than four hours causes a buildup of carbon on the wick, causing the wick to-get this- a mushroom. Ever heard of that? Not I. I guess it’s a real thing though.

Burning the wick of a candle for more than four hours straight can cause a buildup of carbon, which can cause the wick to mushroom and become unstable. This excess carbon can make the flame get larger, too large in fact, and cause soot to be released; onto your candle, and the air around it. Well, that sounds gross don’t you think? Not something I want to breathe, and a waste of a candle, as it doesn’t make that gorgeous candle look too pretty after it coats it with soot.

*Burning A New Candle For A Few Minutes

Burning a new candle for the first time for only a few minutes, under an hour, can cause that annoying tunneling and puddle of wax. This tip to my mind is for candles that are poured into containers. I know you’ve seen them. The wonderful scented candles in glass jars with pretty glass tops or fancy metal encasing their wax. Improper burning of these types of candles can cause the wax to flow unevenly around your container, making it look just plain messy. Blek! It’s preferable that for the “first burn” you burn the candle until there is a smooth even flow of wax around the top as wax has memory. Never knew that, did you? It’s recommended that you burn a new candle for the first time an inch per diameter of the candle, but under four hours, as remember, you don’t want that gross carbon from burning it for too long. Whew! I know we’ve saved a few candle burners with this one.

*Wick Trimming

Are you getting a big black ring around the candle when you relight it or excessive smoke? Well… experts say that it is because you are one of those that doesn’t… trim your wick as you should. What? You have to trim the wick. No one ever told me that, you either? Well I guess that it is an important candle burning procedure. Failure to properly trim you wick to one quarter inch before lighting can give you, get this, mushrooming and carbon. Remember, those are both two things that are, well, not only gross but, cough, not conducive to why you probably lit the candle to begin with. They even make fancy scissors just for trimming those wicks but I’m sure a regular pair would work too. So take the time to trim those used candles before lighting them as it will pay off for you in the long run. No thanks necessary for this tip.

*There’s A Proper Way To Blow Out Your Candle

What you say? There’s a proper way to blow out a candle? Don’t you just blow; you know, pucker up those lips and blow? Well, no, it seems there is a proper way to extinguish a candle flame. Using the pucker up and blow method-one I’ve always used-can cause hot wax to fly out from the, again I think their talking about candles encased in glass or metal, or whatever type of completely enclosed containers, and possibly burn the blowers face or someone else’s face. Ouch! That doesn’t sound fun, or conducive to romance, nope. Instead, it’s recommended to use a snuffer or flat-head screwdriver to extinguish the flame in the melted wax. This is supposedly a safer method that won’t risk flesh burning. What’s a snuffer? It’s a bell-shaped metal cap on a long stick that, well, literally snuffs out the flame of the candle. They still make those so you can easily find one to add to your candle safety equipment along with a small pair of wick trimming scissors.

Now, knowing what you now know about how to properly use container candles, you should be all set to safely burn them with just the desired outcome.