Caring for Church Candles

Maintaining the unfaltering light produced by candles adds to the reverent mood of worship services. Here are a few basic guidelines from Cathedral Candle Company for caring for and using your church candles.

Preparing Candles

First, make sure the candle is seated firmly and vertically straight in the candlestick. Tilted candles may cause irregular burning and dripping. About ¾" of exposed wick is recommended for efficient burning; trim the wick if necessary.

Also, use a candle follower for the best and longest-lasting performance of the candle. Make sure the follower is the correct size based on the candle’s diameter. Before seating a follower on the candle, clean off all the wax on both the inside and outside. To seat the follower, place it on the shoulder (the flat top surface) of the candle and give it a snug ¼" turn.

Before placing the candle on the altar, straighten the wick and precondition the candle by burning it for at least two minutes.

Lighting Candles

When using a candlelighter, extend the taper out 1". Make sure to not touch the wick or follower with the lighter. This will make sure no pieces of the wick break off and fall into the candle cup.

Extinguish the taper flame by retracting the taper into the candlelighter tube. Then immediately extend the taper out from the tube to avoid wax buildup and jamming.

Extinguishing Candles

It is best to use a candle extinguisher to put out the flame rather than blow the flame out. Gently place the extinguisher over the candle follower, being very careful not to touch either the wick or follower. Tilting or compressing the follower may cause the top of the candle to tilt as well.

Care While Burning

Try not to disturb candles that are burning well, and make sure to keep them out of the way of drafts.

Once a week, look at the top of the candle while it is burning to make sure there aren’t any broken wicks and that the wick is still a good length. If the wick has become too long and curled over, trim it back to ¾". If the wick is too short, you may need to use a dull knife to remove all debris and darkened wax from the head of the candle. Then expose ¾" of good wick. Finish by making the shoulders of the candle symmetrical and level so the follower will sit properly.

Something else to keep in mind with large-diameter candles is to light them long enough for the entire top to become liquefied. In circumstances where a candle does not remain lit long enough, the wick has a tendency to burn down the center of the candle body, causing the candle to malfunction. Here are recommended minimum burning times for candles:

Candle Diameter      Burning Time
1½" 45 minutes
1¾" 45 minutes
2" 45 minutes
2¼" 50 minutes
2½" 60 minutes
3" 75 minutes
3½" 90 minutes

Candle Followers

A clean, glistening follower looks better and performs better. To remove any accumulated wax from the follower, immerse it in warm water and wipe it clean with a soft cloth. Make sure to not use an abrasive cloth, as it could affect the finish of the followers.

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