Regardless of the type of candle you are trying to make, sinkholes may occur even if you are very careful or work meticulously. But no fear cause Musti is here. Here is how you can fix them.
Homemade candles sink in the middle because the wax that has hardened (during the wax cooling process) cannot stick to the wick. Pouring it at a cooler temperature or a second pour may help prevent that.
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Especially if you are new at making candles, a sinkhole is something that you most likely will encounter at some point. I know this might sound scary or discouraging, but I think it’s a good thing to experience it. Each “bad” experience will lead to a better result later. Even though sinkhole is something that occurs quite often, you can also easily prevent it or even fix it!
Why does my candle wax sink in the middle?
Before I start explaining why we first need to be sure we are on the same page here. When I say sink in the middle, I am not talking about tunneling, which happens during the first burn of your candle.
What I am referring to is a sinkhole in the middle of the candle. I know many may be confused about this, which is understandable since they both look alike depending on how you understand it.
So now we have clarified that, let’s talk about why it happens.
So once you melt the wax, you pour it into the jar with (hopefully) correctly positioned wick, and you wait till it hardens, and after waiting long enough, you have your candle, right?
During this process, your wax (that is now hot and has expanded) starts to cool down and contract. Because it’s cooling on the sides first and it needs to stick to something, it will first stick to the sides. This causes your wax to dip or sink in the middle. Your wax may also stick to your wick because it can grasp it, but the middle will still sink as it starts to cool down further.
I have linked a video below (in case you wish to watch the video instead of reading it), where it’s nicely explained.
The right temperature is crucial.
Having the right condition is crucial when you make candles. You need to have the right place and the right room temperature. Don’t get me wrong; it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to make candles otherwise. It just means that the chance for a better final product is much higher with the right conditions.
This means the place must be well ventilated, and you must have control over the temperature in the room during the whole process. This is especially important when it’s very hot or very cold outside.
If you wish your candle to be set up naturally, control over your temperature is an absolute must. But the same thing applies to the container you want to use; they also must be at the right (room) temperature.
How To Stop Candles From Sinking In The Middle.
Proper preparation will help you prevent a lot of problems later on. For example, you could leave your containers and molds in a room temperature setting enough time prior to the melting and pouring process so they are at the right temperature when you start pouring. This is a great and cheap way to stop having your candles from sinking in the middle.
Another option (this is also applicable if you forgot to put them at room temperature) is to put your jars or molds in a cookie sheet and into your oven at the lowest setting you have for about 15 to 20 minutes. This way, they would warm up quicker, and you won’t need to wait.
If your container is too cold, or if you want to accelerate the process by placing the container after you pour your wax in the refrigerator, the exterior will harden too quickly before the inside area. The trapped air inside will not be able to release naturally, and this is what causes your candle to sink in the middle.
Pouring your wax at a lower temperature:
Pouring at a lower temperature will also help prevent sinkholes from occurring. But be careful with this method, if it’s too cold, you will be below the suggested temperature, and your batch will not solidify the right way. I would not try this method unless I am sure or have tried it before and know what I am doing.
How To Fix A Candle Sinkhole
There are two ways that are mainly used to fix sinkholes in your candles.
How to fix candle sinkholes with a heat gun
After reading this, you will probably say; I need a heat gun!
A heat gun is ideal for fixing sinkholes in your candle. It works fast, and to be honest with you, you won’t go back anymore once you use it. You can use it to heat the candle’s surface to fill up any holes your candle has. Also, once you start doing that, use a stick (chopstick) to poke in the hole to open it up so the melted wax can fill it entirely.
Some do this even when they don’t see a hole. This is to make sure if the hole is not visible, it will be!
Also, a heat gun is ideal for making your surface even in case you end up with an oblique surface.
How to fix candle sinkholes a without a heat gun
If you are not in the position of a heat gun, there are alternatives that are as equally as good.
You can basically use a hairdryer or a low temp over. Wit ha hairdryer, it works exactly as it does with a heat gun. You basically heat the surface of the candle till you fill-up the holes.
Low temp oven can also work, but you need to make sure you only use the upper heat. I would also strongly advise you to do it very slowly till you are used to it because you might end up melting more than the surface. Regularly check and use a stick to poke in the holes to open them as you would do with the other fixes.
How to fix candle sinkholes with a Second pour:
This is not much different from the heat gun; a second pour does the same thing, which is filling up the hole. So if you wish to use this method, the next batch of candles you will pour, save some for your second. What you need to be careful about here is not to pour too fast after your first.
This means your candle must have solidified entirely and cooled off before doing your second pour. In most cases, it is advised to pour 2 hrs after the first. If you do it too fast, you may have significant flaws in the physical look of your candle, or even worse, create a second hole!
Again the same thing here with the stick, poke in the holes, so you are sure all of them are filled and do it while you are pouring your second.
You may also try to heat up the glass before pouring it in, but you’d need to be careful not to heat them up too much, or else your candles will have a hard time solidifying as they cool down. You can quickly put them in the oven on warm mode for a couple of minutes, and this should do the trick. This will help the wax to cool down evenly, and it won’t cling or stick to the sides.
Poking in the candle while it cools down may be the best method to avoid dipping and sinking. You simply use a chopstick to poke around the middle to make sure there are no air pockets. By poking relief holes, the chances of having sinkholes are much slimmer. Just be careful, as it may get messy if you start poking and your wax has solidified a little already. You’ll end up with a lot of wax on your chopstick and less in your candle.
Not all candles are the same.
The probability of a sinkhole is different from one type of candle to another. It may occur with all candles, but it does less with some types. Single pour pillar and container waxes will have fewer sinkholes if the right wax (for the candle style) is used. So logically, if you are using the wrong wax, the chances for a sinkhole to occur are higher.
Votiv waxes will almost always need to have a second pour; it’s simply in the nature of the wax. Remember, when making votive candles, you always leave 1/16″ open from the top.
If you don’t, the votive will not be able to harden and shrink with the right amount of open surface. This means your second pour may not be able to cool uniformly, eventually leading to a sinkhole.
Proper preparation is half of the battle. If you can make sure your jars or molds are at the right temperature, the chances of a sinkhole are dramatically lower. Control over room temperature is also a must, but I can understand that it’s not something that most people would want to invest in.
I also would 100% suggest buying a heat gun because it is a lifesaver and it’s straightforward to work with. Having one also has other advantages, so I think it’s an excellent investment.
Don’t forget, making candles is not a race. Take your time, and use the right tools, and it will be a walk in the park.