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With so many different candles on the market today it can be hard to know if you're getting your money's worth in terms of quality. When burning a new type of candle there are a few things you should look for to ensure you're candle is of good quality.
A quality candle should come with instructions that tell you how long to burn your candle for. It's important to burn your candles for the minimum amount of time suggested as you want the top surface of the wax to liquefy either entirely, in the case of votives, or to the edges in the case of jars and pillar candles. This helps avoid a condition called “tunneling” in which the candle only melts down through the middle, leaving large portions of the edges unburned and wasted.
Also, check to see if your wicks are burning properly. Be sure to trim them before each use and periodically if they get too long during burning. If you notice excessive smoking or if they wicks are drowned by the wax pool it may be due to the wrong type of wick being used. Pay attention to burn time. While different types of candles will vary slightly but keep track of how much time you get from a new candle to ensure you're not wasting money on a candle that burns up too quickly.
Lastly, how does it smell? Some candles may have a strong scent when unlit but end up putting out very little fragrance when burning. A quality candle should put off enough scent throw to be noticed and enjoyed. Larger candles will tend to put more scent in the air but even a small votive should give off some scent when burned.