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You've been burning candles wrong your whole life.
Heed the following guidelines and you'll get way more mileage out of your favorite candles.
1. Trim the wick. Every. Single. Time.
Each time you want to burn your candle, start by trimming the wick to between 1/8 and 1/4 inches long. You can use scissors, nail clippers (that's my personal favorite), or a specialized wick trimmer, but no matter what you do, always trim.
Why? First, trimmed wicks will give you a cleaner, brighter burn. Untrimmed wicks are a lot more likely to take on a weird mushroom-esque shape (see below) that dulls and obscures the flame.
2. Let the wax melt all the way across. Once your candle's lit, don't blow it out until the top layer of wax has melted all the way across. This might take several hours — so don't set out to burn a candle at all unless you've got time to kill.
It takes patience, but if you melt the wax all the way across every time you burn, the surface of the candle will stay flat and the sides of the jar will stay clean, all the way down until the candle is spent.
3. Buy multi-wick candles. One wick will never produce enough heat to melt it all the way across.
4. Keep the flame away from moving air. Do your best to keep your burning candle away from fans, air conditioners, open windows, or heavily trafficked areas where people walk back and forth a lot. Moving air can disturb the flame, leading to even more unsightly black marks on the glass.
Bad burning technique on the left, good burning technique on the right.