Candles are one of the go-to options for people seeking a calm and soothing atmosphere to relax and destress. However, making candles as a hobby is not so easy and can be tricky if you are not taking the right precautions and measures.
Hence you should be willing to learn everything about them, down to the smallest detail, while also tackling problems encountered during the candle-making process.
Candle wax sinking in the middle happens mainly as a result of pouring wax at higher than recommended temperatures. The wax around the outer edges tends to cool faster than the wax in the middle and does not stick to the wick. This problem occurs more frequently in taller containers as compared to shorter, wider ones. Pouring the wax at a lower temperature or employing the “second pour technique” can solve this issue.
We understand that the above-mentioned information misses out on the “details” of the why and how? Worry not, because we have compiled the answers to all your questions regarding why candle wax sinks in the middle. So, let’s take a more detailed look at what causes the sinking of candle wax and ways we can fix the problem so it doesn’t happen again.
What Causes the Sinking Of Candle Wax In The Middle?
The candle-making process is quite straightforward. First, you melt the wax and pour it into a container with the wick positioned in the center. You then wait for the wax to cool down and settle to form a candle.
At the microscopic level, however, things are not so straightforward. When the wax is in its molten (liquid) form, particles have high entropy and they expand.
The particles then slow down as the wax cools and solidifies in the jar. The wax begins to cool from the sides or edges first and sticks to the candle container. As a result, the wax sinks in the middle.
Although the wax may stick to the wick, it does not hold on to it and sinks further as the temperature falls. Therefore, having the right conditions is extremely crucial for making candles.
The most important condition is the temperature of the wax, room, and container. Having the optimal temperature will allow you to have a higher quality product in the end.
While making candles, you will want to be in a room with decent ventilation. The room should not be too cool or too warm.
If the room temperature is too low, it will cause the outer edges and the bottom of your candle to cool down much faster than the center.
This will cause the wax to solidify on the outside edges of the container while sinking in the center of the candle.
To keep an eye on the room temperature, we suggest you buy an indoor thermometer. It makes the process easier and keeps you in control.
If the temperature of the molten wax is too hot, it will not cool down at the center. This can cause your candle to have a sinkhole when the wax cools down.
Having the right container temperature is an important factor when it comes to having the right finish on your candle.
If you store your candle containers in a storage or a cool place, their temperature will be lower than the surroundings. This will cause the wax to solidify at the outer edges and bottom of the container. Eventually, causing your candle to have a concave-shaped surface.
Type Of Wax
Depending on what type of candle you are looking to make, different types of waxes can offer different advantages and drawbacks.
Depending on what type of wax you choose, it can have different candle-making processes. Some waxes require two pours, while others only need a single pour to settle.
When buying your candle-making kit look for the wax type; is it a single pour? one pour wax? or two pour wax?
If you are struggling with wax sinking in the center of your candles, then you may want to consider using a single-pour wax as it is much easier to work with.
To make it easier for you to choose the right wax, we have compiled a table that mentions the melting points and pouring temperatures for the most common types of candle waxes. This table will certainly come in handy if you are planning on making candles at home.
|Type Of Wax||Melting Point (Celcius)||Pouring Temperature|
|Paraffin Wax||46 – 61 ℃ (115 – 142 ℉)||170-180 ℉ (76 – 82 ℃)|
|Gel Wax||82 ℃ (180 ℉)||185-200 ℉ (85 – 93 ℃)|
|Beeswax||62 – 65 ℃ (144 – 149 ℉)||140-150 ℉ (60 – 65 ℃)|
|Soy Wax||45 – 53 ℃ (113 – 127 ℉)||120-140 ℉ (49 – 60 ℃)|
|Parasoy||56 ℃ (133 ℉)||160-180 ℉ (71 – 82 ℃)|
|Coconut Blend Wax||51- 53 ℃ (124 – 127 ℉)||110-130 ℉ (43 – 54 ℃)|
|Palm Wax||82 ℃ (180 ℉)||185-195+ ℉ (85 – 90 ℃)|
What Is The Difference Between Tunneling & Sinking Of Candle Wax?
The main difference between tunneling and sinking is that the former occurs when you burn the candle for the first time. While sinking occurs when you are pouring wax into the container during the candle-making process.
Tunneling causes the candle to burn down the middle, leaving the hard wax around the edges intact. This creates a tunnel-like shape that increases in depth over time – eventually causing the candle to flame out.
How To Stop Candles From Sinking In The Middle?
Following the below-mentioned steps will allow you to stop your candles from sinking and tunneling.
Ensure Your Room is Warm
The first thing anyone can do to improve the quality of their DIY candles is to prepare the environment they are being made in.
To allow the candle wax to settle gently in the container, you should make them in a warm room. A warm room will also keep the container warm and ready for use once it is time to pour!
If you happen to live in a cold region, you should be more mindful of room temperatures.
A warmer room temperature will make the outer portion of the candle cool and harden slower. It will eventually cool at a speed closer to that of the center column of the candle.
This will reduce the chances of the wax sinking in the middle because now the wax will not stick to the actual container. The ideal room temperature for pouring candle wax is 71-77 degrees Fahrenheit or 21 – 25 degrees Centigrade.
One more tip we would like to share with you is to start warming the room a few hours earlier. This way the room will be heated up uniformly leading to much better results.
Warm Your Candle Jars and Containers
Since a colder candle jar will only increase the sinking of the wax, we recommend you to warm up your jars and containers if you live in a cold place.
As compared to plastic jars, glass candle jars are more likely to cool faster and cause sinkholes to appear as the melted wax is poured out. Therefore, you should not only warm your room but you should also warm the containers and jars you will be using.
Down below we have mentioned 3 easy ways to warm up your containers.
- Use A Heat Gun
The easiest way to warm your container is to use a heat gun. Although you can use a hair dryer as well, it will not give you the same results as a crafting heat gun.
- Heat In An Oven
You can also use an oven to heat your containers. However, this will take longer than using a heat gun.
The only thing you need to make sure of is not to warm Pyrex glass or High heat-resistant glass containers in your oven. You can set the oven at the lowest heat setting and warm the containers for a couple of minutes.
- Store Your Containers In A Warm Place
The easiest and most common way to warm your jars is to keep them in a warm space overnight. You can do this by keeping your containers in an airtight box away from cold surfaces or near a heating source to keep them warm and toasty.
Isolate Your Setup From Cool Surfaces Or Cool Air/Ventilation
Anything that decreases the temperature of your wax or candle container should be removed from the candle-making area.
This means that you should close any open windows, cracked doors, or any other source of ventilation that speeds up the cooling of your candle wax.
You will also want to use a table or a surface that is close to room temperature so there are no inconsistencies in temperature.
Choose The Right Wax Type
In order to produce a flawless product, you should choose the right wax type.
Each wax has a different cooling pattern. Some candle waxes are designed to harden more evenly, even if the surroundings are cool. These waxes are known as soft waxes. Some common examples are soy wax and beeswax.
Soy wax and beeswax are natural organic alternatives to paraffin wax which is made from crude oil. These waxes are of higher quality and are more expensive as compared to paraffin wax.
Lower The Pouring Temperature
Lowering the temperature of the wax is an extremely effective way to avoid sinking in the middle. Pouring wax at a slightly lower temperature will allow the wax in the middle of the jar to cool at the same speed as the wax at the outer edges of the jar.
However, keep in mind that you should not use wax that is too cool, otherwise, the candle will not mold correctly.
You can refer to the table given above to get an idea of the melting points of different types of waxes. Or you can use the instructions manual/ guidelines provided by the manufacturer to figure out the right temperature for pouring.
Use The Two-Pour Technique
The two-pour technique allows you to pour wax in two different sessions. This technique is used to produce a better-finished candle with a uniform wax pour.
The process is easy, you start pouring the wax at the ideal pouring temperature until half of the jar is full. Then you allow the wax to cool and harden before pouring the wax a second time.
Take Your Time When Pouring Wax
We recommend you to take your time and be patient when pouring wax into the jar. Having a calm temperament will allow you to be in full control of your candle-making DIY setup.
Remember that if you are impatient, you might overlook important steps that can affect the cooling of your wax. You will want to ensure that your room is warm, your containers are not cold and the wax is setting down without any trapped air bubbles.
Remember that rushing the two-pour method can cause two sinkholes in your candle instead of one. Thus, patience is crucial!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1) Can You Fix Candle Sinkholes?
Yes, candle sinkholes can be fixed by using the same techniques used when trying to avoid sinkholes appearing in the first place. To fix a sinkhole, use the second pour technique, a heat gun or an oven to melt down the surface wax until it fills up the sinkhole again.
Q2) How Do You Fix A Sunken Candle Wick?
If your candle wick is buried or too short, this is an easy fix. You can use a lighter or a long matchstick to simply heat the wax at the top of the wick. This will melt the wax around the wick giving you access to it again. You can also try to hold the candle upside down as you light it; although this isn’t recommended!
Q3) How Do You Save A Tunneling Candle?
To save a tunneling candle, wrap aluminum foil around the edges of the candle. Make sure that the center is open so the flame can burn as usual. The foil should reach over the tunneled wax. The heat is then trapped inside, melting the entire top wax back to an even surface.
The last thing anyone wants is to have their candlelight experience ruined due to candle wax sinking in the middle, causing the flames to flicker or go out altogether. Luckily, we have identified plenty of ways you can fix a sinking or tunneling candle both pre and post-production.
If your candles tend to develop sinkholes in the middle, simply take the necessary precautions and measures stated above and you shouldn’t face this problem anymore!