How to Burn Candles (the right way!)

I have been taking all of my university classes remotely for almost an entire year. So have most other university students in Ontario. It can get difficult to study when everyday looks eerily similar to the next and course work starts piling up. Lately, I have been trying to slow down, and one way I have started to do this is by lighting candles! 

A few years ago, “Hygge”, the Danish art of coziness, became popular in North America. Just last year I read “The Little Book of Hygge” by Meik Wiking and loved almost everything about this way of living! Hygge is all about living in a slow, comfortable and simple way. It embraces sweaters, sweets, overflowing bookshelves, cups of tea, candles, and the like.  

While most aspects of this lifestyle appealed to me, I could not get behind candles. They felt like a fire hazard, they usually just smelled like smoke, and I just didn’t see the allure of them. A few weeks ago, I thought I would give them a try, and now - you guessed it - I love candles! 

Below I am going to outline some of the ways I use candles and how to get the most out of your experience.  


1. Choose the right candle for you.

This might sound strange, but there’s a lot of potential to both love, and hate, a candle. What kinds of scents do you like? What kinds do you dislike? Do you like strong scents or lighter ones? There are a lot of different wax options as well. Some people get headaches from paraffin wax, or prefer soy because it is more natural, or like that coconut wax is more relatively sustainable, or do not like beeswax because it isn’t vegan. In addition to all of that, there are different types of wicks. Some are simple wicks, and others make crackling noises.  


2. Take good care of your candle.

I had no idea that there was a wrong way to burn a candle! I just thought that as long as the candle didn’t set fire to the house, I was all good, but I was all wrong. The reason that candles always smelled of smoke was because I was burning them incorrectly. The solution to this was trimming my wick after every use. It was that easy! After I started doing this, the burnt smell went away entirely, and I was left with just the smell of the melting scented wax. Another tip is to allow the wax to melt evenly. This means that the entire top layer of the candle is melted. This does not mean you have to use the entire candle in one go, just that you leave it for a minimum of 20-30 minutes so that it can solidify in an even layer. If you do not do this, you’ll end up with a hole in the middle of the candle and the wax on the sides will not get used (if this happens, don’t worry, you can cut it off and add it back to the middle, but this is not ideal).  


3. Create a specific atmosphere. 

Scent association can be great for studying, relaxing, or waking up. You don’t need too many candles to do this. Even just two can create this effect as one can be for working, and the other for relaxing. Something that smells sweet or fruity might wake you up, while softer scents of lavender or honey might make you feel relaxed. They can be different colours, or scented differently, or you can choose to have one single multipurpose white and scentless candle - it’s up to you!  


Right now, I have a coffee-scented candle that I light when I am studying, and it really does help me set the tone for studying. I now associate that scent with that activity. It is made from coconut wax and has a crackling wooden wick, which I really enjoy hearing while I am working. Most candles cost 20 to 50 cents per hour or even $1 on the higher end. They can be fairly economical if you search around for the best per hour burn cost (each website should tell you the price and estimated burn time). It is all about finding your preferences!