Why Is My Candle Flame Too Small?

A candle flame is supposed to be tall and bright, but sometimes it’s small and barely noticeable. It might seem like it’s not doing anything, but there’s quite a bit going on inside that little flame. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at what makes a candle flame small and how to fix it. So, read on to learn more!

If the candle is not getting enough wax for fuel, or if there is not enough oxygen present, the flame will be small. This can be due to the wrong wick size, an unbalanced amount of fragrance oils, excess color, or too many wicks. If there were particulates used in the manufacture of the wax, the candle’s wick may become clogged, resulting in a small flame.

A candle flame is sustained by the continual melting of wax at the base of the wick, which is drawn up due to combustion aided by oxygen. Without enough oxygen or wax, a candle’s flame will first become small and then go out.

By understanding the potential causes of a lack of oxygen or wax, you can troubleshoot and ensure your candle reaches its full potential.

Primary Factors Affecting Your Candle’s Flame Size

The recommended flame height is about 1/2 inch to 2 inches tall. However, some candle flames may blaze high and others barely flicker. The size of the flame is greatly affected by the primary factors of draft, heat, and wick. By understanding these elements, you can create a candle that burns evenly every time. Let’s explore how each factor affects your candle’s flame size:

  1. Improper Wick Size

The size of the wick plays an important role in the performance of a candle. If the wick is too small, it will not be able to draw enough melted wax to the tip, resulting in a small, weak flame. The small flame will also produce less heat, which can cause the candle to tunnel (burn straight down the middle without melting the wax around the edge of the candle). 

  1. Imbalance of Fragrance Oils

Scented candles are a popular way to add a pleasant fragrance to any room. However, if too much fragrance oil is used, it can result in a small candle flame. The reason for this is that fragrance oils are made up of molecules that are lighter than the molecules of wax. 

When the candle is cooled, the fragrance oil accumulates on the top of the candle. The wick clogs causing the candle flame to become smaller. 

  1. Excess Color

A dye is a substance that is used to give color to another substance. In the case of candles, dyes are used to give the wax a desired color. However, if too much dye is used, it can result in a small candle flame. This is because the excess dye prevents the wax from vaporizing properly by clogging the wick. As a result, the fuel source for the flame is diminished, leading to a smaller and weaker flame. 

  1. Extra Wicks

Most candles are made with a single wick, but some contain multiple wicks. The number of wicks can have a significant impact on the size of the candle flame. When there are multiple wicks, each one requires oxygen for combustion. This amounts to considerably more oxygen demand than a single wick would need. As a result, the overall oxygen supply of the candle is lower, and the flame is smaller. 

More wicks also produce more smoke, which can cause the flame to flicker and appear smaller. Finally, multiple wicks burning together produce excess heat causing the wax to melt faster and form a deep pool of molten wax. Consequently, the wicks will droop resulting in smaller flames.

How to Fix a Small Candle Flame?

If you’ve ever tried to light a candle only to have a weak and small flame that goes on to extinguish itself after a few minutes, you know how frustrating it can be. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can follow to fix a small candle flame.

  1. Prevent a Short Wick

A common problem when burning candles is that the wick becomes too short. Here are some tips to help prevent your candle wick from becoming too short in the first place:

  • Trim the wick to 1/4 inch before each use. This will help to keep the flame from getting too big and causing the wick to become excessively heated. This will also help to prevent the formation of a “mushroom” on the end of the wick, which can cause the candle to burn faster.
  • Don’t let the candle burn for more than 4 hours at a time. Allowing the wax to pool around the wick can cause it to drown, making it difficult to relight the candle the next time you want to use it.
  • Use the appropriately sized candle for your holder. If the candle is too large for your container, it will be difficult to control the size of the flame, and this can lead to a shortened wick.
  1. Fix a Short Candle Wick

Suppose your candle already has a short wick. Then here’s what you can do to increase its size:

  • If you can light the wick, allow the candle to burn for 20 to 30 minutes before blowing out the flame. Now pour the wax into a suitable container or plate to dispose of it. Relight the candle and let it burn till the first layer of wax melts. Extinguish the flame and let the wax harden around the now exposed candle wick.
  • If you are unable to light the wick, let a heat gun or hair dryer melt the upper layer of wax till an ideal height of the wick is exposed. Now pour it out in a discardable container and dispose of it. Allow the wax to cool before lighting the candle.
  1. Decrease Color 

By removing the candle wax dye, you can make a test candle to see how it burns. If the flame is normal, avoid using dyes in your candles.

  1. Decrease Fragrance Oils

It is important to use only a small amount of fragrance oil when making scented candles – 3% to 10%. By doing so, you can ensure that your candles will burn brightly and evenly.

Make a test candle by reducing the amount of fragrance oils to be added. If the flame is not small and burns brightly, then you have found your solution.

  1. Remove the Extra Wicks

By decreasing the number of wicks to one, you can ensure a sufficient oxygen supply and prevent a deep melted wax pool from forming. So, remove the extra wicks and relight your candle. If you notice that it burns fine now, you have solved your problem.

  1. Check Your Candle Wax

Waxes that have a higher melting point require a longer wick, as compared to those with low melting points. This is because heat from the flame will be needed for the candle wax to melt. 

To ensure an ideal flame, match your candle wax with the right wick size. The table below specifies the different types of candle waxes and their melting points:

Type of WaxMelting Point
Soy45-53 ℃ (113-127 ℉)
Paraffin46-61 ℃ (115-142 ℉) 
Coconut Blend Wax51- 53 ℃ (124-127℉)
Parasoy56 ℃ (133 ℉)
Beeswax62-65 ℃ (144-149 ℉)
Gel wax82 ℃ (180 ℉ )
Carnauba/ Palm Wax82 ℃ (180 ℉)

Why is My Candle Flame Too High?

If you’ve noticed that your candle flames are reaching over 2 inches, three reasons may be the cause:

  1. Wick is Extra Thick or Long

One possibility is that the wick is too long or thick. It will draw too much wax up the wick, causing the flame to be larger than normal. This type of wick can also cause uneven heat distribution in the candle because of slumping to one side. The type of wick to be used is recommended to be adjusted with the type of wax in the candle to avoid these issues.

  1. Prolonged Burning

If a candle is allowed to burn for too long, the heat from the flame can start to break down the molecular structure of the wax. This causes black soot to form on the wick and around the flame. The soot can then be drawn up into the flame, making it taller and less stable. Eventually, this can cause the candle to drip or even self-extinguish.

  1. Excess Fragrance Oil

Since fragrance oil burns faster than wax, excess of it will result in an increased fuel supply, causing the candle flame to become larger.

What Are the Different Candle Wick Sizes?

When it comes to candles, the size of the wick can make all the difference. Too small and your candle will produce little light and smoke; too large and it will burn too quickly. But finding the perfect wick size for your particular candle isn’t always easy. Below is a table to help you identify and choose the right wick size for your candle:

Wick Size TypeSize in Inches
Extra Small1.75″ – 2.19″
Small2.2″ – 2.69″
Medium2.7″ – 2.94″
Large2.95″ – 3.29″
Extra Large3.3″ – 3.79″
2X Large3.8″ – 4.2″
2XL – Multi-Wick3.8″ – 4.5″

Safety Tips Around a Burning Candle

When it comes to safety, there are some basic rules you should follow when using candles. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:  

  • If a candle flame starts to smoke, blow it out and trim the wick before relighting.  
  • Never use water to extinguish a candle, this can cause the hot wax to splatter and could result in burns.  
  • Always use a candle holder that is sturdy and won’t tip over easily.  
  • Make sure the surface area around the candle is clear of any debris before lighting it. 
  • Always keep an eye on burning candles and never leave them unattended.  
  • Keep candles away from flammable objects such as curtains, paper, or anything else that could catch fire easily. 
  • Keep candles out of reach of children and pets.  
  • Never touch a burning candle or move it while it is lit. 
  • Extinguish all candles when you leave the room or go to bed.  

By following these simple tips, you can help prevent accidents and keep yourself, your family, and your home safe.


Q. Why is My Candle Flame Moving So Much?

  1. The movement of a candle flame is determined by a balance of two forces: convection and drafts. Convection is the result of hot air rising and cooler air sinking. This causes the flame to bend upward as the hot air rises. 

Drafts, on the other hand, are caused by a sudden gust of air. This can cause the flame to bend in any direction. The interplay of these two forces is what gives candles their characteristic flickering flame. 

Q. Why Does a Candle Flame Always Point Upwards?

  1. The flame of a candle is primarily fuelled by the heat of the combustion reaction. However, it also requires a steady supply of oxygen to maintain the reaction. The hottest part of the flame is found at the tip, where the oxygen supply is most plentiful. The combustion reaction produces hot gas, which rises upwards and carries the flame with it. 

The heat also melts the wax, creating a small pool of liquid wax. This wax reaches the wick, bringing more fuel to the flame and keeping it burning. As a result, the candle flame is constantly drawn upwards by a combination of hot gas and liquid wax.

Final Thoughts

When your candle flame is too small, it is because there is not enough wax or oxygen around the flame. This can be due to the wrong wick size. Other reasons include an excess of fragrance oils, multiple wicks, or too much dye. If you’re having trouble getting your candle to burn correctly, make sure to try out the solutions discussed above. With a few simple adjustments, you should be able to get a beautiful, vibrant flame.


  1. https://www.harlemcandlecompany.com/blogs/journal/is-your-candle-flame-too-high-here-s-how-to-fix-it
  2. https://firefighterinsider.com/candle-flame-height/
  3. https://www.candleers.com/why-is-my-candle-flame-too-small/
  4. https://homesick.com/blogs/news/candle-wick-too-short-how-to-prevent-and-fix-a-short-candle-wick
  5. https://www.theflamingcandle.com/how-to-perform-candle-wick-testing/
  6. https://brookotascreations.com/which-temperature-does-candle-wax-melt-complete-list-of-waxes/
  7. https://www.candlescience.com/learning/wick-guide/

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