By Megan Murray
Home fragrance is one of the most important ways to create atmosphere in a space. While a warm glow can contribute to the aesthetics of a room, certain scents can also be utilised to reflect the time of day - whether that's soothing notes just before bed or a rich fragrance for entertaining around the dinner table.
Candles are a staple finishing layer to a room's decor, but it's easy to forget about the upkeep required to make the most of them. Taking care of the wick, storing them in a cool place and controlling wax memory are all tricks that will help preserve a candle's look and scent, plus make burning it a more enjoyable experience.
Here, Soho Home's Home Fragrance Manager, Alice McGhee, shares her advice on how to care for your Soho Home candles with tips on safe use, positioning, and burn time.
How long should I burn a candle for?
'The very first time you light a candle has an effect on how it will perform for the rest of its life. To encourage an even burn, set the wax memory from initial use by allowing it to burn for at least two hours. This will give the wax pool time to become completely molten across the top. When wax has melted and then becomes re-solidified, it sinks and sits lower than the unburnt wax around it.
'If the wax doesn't burn the full way across the top and becomes uneven, it will start to "tunnel" down the middle of the candle. This is when it burns through the centre and creates a small wax pool, leaving a large amount of unmelted wax and a lot of wasted candle.
'Equally, I wouldn't advise burning a candle for extended timeframes. The longer a candle is burnt, the more the wick becomes damaged and this can lead to a very smoky burn. To avoid sooting, extinguish the flame after approximately four hours.'
How can I stop my candle smoking?
'There are a few things you can do to avoid sooting from your candle. Crucially, keep the wick trimmed to 5mm - a long, burnt wick will emit black smoke. Make sure that the wax pool is clear and clean - old, burned match heads can interfere as well.
'A candle on the edge of burn-out will also start smoking, so our advice is to extinguish them when only 10mm of wax remains. Plus, it's best if you do this with an actual snuffer as opposed to blowing it out.'
How can I protect my candle’s scent?
'You might not think about storing your candle when it's not in use, but keeping it in a cool environment is good for preserving the fragrance.
'This is because varying temperatures and too much light will cause the scent to deteriorate. Eventually, the compounds within the fragrance oil will permanently separate, so I recommend using your candle within 12 months of purchase - don't save them for best.'
How should I burn a candle safely?
'Basic safety recommendations include never leaving a burning candle unattended, and of course, keeping it out of the reach of children or pets.
'I would also advise avoiding draughts to keep the burn even, and placing it on a flat surface away from any overhanging objects.'
Where should I position my candle?
'Candles, especially tall dinner ones, can leave soot marks on walls or furniture if positioned too close. Therefore, be mindful of where you place them.
'I'd also keep them away from windows, as wind will cause the candle to lose its shape. And, depending on the style of the candle, wax could spill and damage surfaces.
'Ensure that any candles being used are positioned upright on a stable, heat-resistant surface - balancing them on soft furnishings is a definite no-no. Also, don't keep them too close to other sources of heat as this can be dangerous.'
How can I avoid clubbing?
'Clubbing is when carbon builds up at the tip of a wick. It looks a bit like a mushroom shape of black residue. This is more likely to happen if a candle is placed by a draft or in extreme temperatures.
'Looking after your candle will discourage clubbing from happening, which means keeping the wick trimmed to 5mm after every burn and only burning for up to four hours. To avoid the candle becoming affected by too much heat, avoid placing it in direct sunlight or on a fireplace.'