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Candle Tips

Martha Stewart Living Television

In setting a mood, enhancing a moment, or offering light when power fails, a candle is a model of versatility. But candles aren't likely to occupy much of our thoughts when it comes to maintaining them. We touch the flame to the wick, they cast their light and are eventually snuffed or blown out; and we usually don't think about them much beyond that. But little problems can crop up, such as when a candle doesn't fit neatly into its stick, when the wick is continually doused by its own wax, when dirt or scuff marks mar the side, or when a votive candle burns itself out. A few simple tricks can help eliminate each of these problems.

When a votive candle has burnt out, turn the votive upside down, place it in the freezer, and let it sit overnight. The next morning, the low temperatures will have caused the wax to contract and fall cleanly from the votive. Dirt or scuff marks can be removed by simply rubbing the candle with a piece of nylon stocking. If the wick of a candle is drowning in its own wax, trim the candle with a sharp knife. Score the entire outside a half inch from the top, and cut through, being careful not to sever the wick. You'll need to repeat this process throughout the life of the candle. If a candle is too big to fit into a holder, you can use a knife to whittle the bottom down to size or use a candle shaver, which is a bit more exacting. If a candle is too loose to be held in place, you can try a wide rubber band or a few dabs of sticky wax. One easy way to prevent melted wax from adhering to the rim of the candlestick is to lightly apply vegetable spray to the top. A small amount of the spray inside the holder also facilitates easy removal of the candle stub.