Why you've been burning candles wrong – Mrs Hinch's favourite candle guru explains all

Who knew there was a right and wrong way to light scented candles?

Turns out there's a correct way to light scented candles. The founder behind cleaning guru Mrs Hinch’s favourite scented candle brand claims that despite owning a plethora of candles, millions of Brits are unaware of how to burn them properly.

We all know the frustration of candles burning unevenly, leaving the outer edges of the candles unmelted. Ava May Aromas founder, Hannah Chapman, explains how this problem is known to those in the biz as ‘tunnelling’.

'The majority of us own candles, but actually a lot of people don't know how to burn them correctly,' says Hannah. 'And the first burn is so important to maximise how long your candle will last and how well it will burn.'

Trick for burning candles evenly

burning scented candle

(Image credit: Ava May Aromas)

Here is Hannah's simple trick to ensure your favourite candle burns evenly every time, right down to the bottom of the jar.

'To prevent tunnelling, let your candles burn one hour for every inch in diameter on its first burn – until the whole diameter of wax is burning' Hannah advises. 'For example, if your candle is three inches across, it should burn for three hours to melt the top layer evenly.'

'So, if you’re not going to be in the house for a long period of time, it’s probably best to hang on before lighting a new candle' she says.

ava may aromas candles burning candles evenly

(Image credit: Ava May Aromas)

'The first burn is when your candle's memory kicks in' she explains. And the second time it burns, it will only melt as far as it did the first time you burned it,' the candle expert added. 'So, if you don't melt the entire top layer of wax the first time, the candle will most likely tunnel its entire life!'

But for those who have already tunnelled their favourite candle, Hannah says there is a way to fix it.

'If you've already tunnelled your candle, don't worry - there is a way to save it. Simply wrap aluminium foil around the edge of your candle' she advises. 'Making sure it hangs over the built up wax areas but leave a sizeable hole in the middle so that the wick can burn through properly.

'After a couple of hours, your wax should have melted evenly and you'll be able to enjoy your favourite candle for longer!'

ava may aromas single wick candle

(Image credit: Ava May Aromas)

Buy now: Single Wick Candle, £18, Ava May Aromas

From candle-fan to a candle-aficionado, Hannah launched Ava May Aromas from her parents’ kitchen table two years ago. She now has a successful business hand-making beautiful candles, wax melts and more. With celebrity fans, including Cleaning guru Mrs Hinch.

Related: Shopping edit – best Christmas candles to set the scene for the festive season

All of the fragranced products come in more than 30 designer-inspired scents. From Dior to Jo Malone dupes, as well as popular cleaning products like ZoFlora and Lenor. No wonder Mrs Hinch is said to be a big fan.


Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.