How to Fix a Wick Lost in Wax

Have you ever lost a wick in your candle?  Either because your candle started to tunnel or you may have accidentally cut the wick too short.  I think it has happened to most of us.  I found that this was happening fairly often to me, so I researched some helpful tips on how to fix a wick lost in wax and discovered how to re-wick a candle, as well.

So, how does a person fix their wick that has been lost in wax?  Re-wicking the candle is the best option.  This is done by either adding or inserting a new wick into the wax or creating a substitute wick to help the candle burn evenly to create a full wax pool.  The other, less favored solution would be to scrape out or melt the wax from around the wick.

Many people are looking for a quick solution to fix their wick problem.  However, there are many things to consider when trying to fix your wick and, unfortunately, it may not always be a quick fix.  I have researched this topic thoroughly and wrote this article to provide all this helpful information for you in one resource.

How to Fix a Lost Wick

What to do when I lose my wick in the wax?  I will be talking about four options to fix a candle that has lost its wick.  The first option is to re-wick the candle, which includes two methods:  extending the wick and substituting the wick.  The next option is to completely transfer your candle to a new container.  The last option is to scrape or pour out the wax around the buried wick, so it can be re-lit.  I will discuss each of these options/methods in detail.

1.     Re-Wicking Your Candle

You can fix your wick by re-wicking it.  This is done by either extending the current wick to be able to support a full flame or substituting the wick by putting a brand new one in place. 

The method you chose depends on how much of the wick you have to work with in the candle.  If a small portion of the wick is exposed, I would suggest extending the wick.  If the wick is completely hidden under the wax, I would use the substitution method. 

Extending the wick means you add something to the current stub of a wick, so it will burn.  Substituting the wick means you add a new wick to the center of the candle to work as the new wick and as a substitute for the old, buried one.

a. Extend the current wick

The first and best solution is to re-wick your candle using a wicking material that could serve as an extension of the old wick.  You will add it to the current wick.  However, if your wick is too short or completely buried under the wax, it’s best to just re-wick the candle completely by using the substitution method.

Wicks are generally made of cotton fibers or wooden sticks, but can also be made of zinc, tin, or paper.  These are methods you could use to help re-set your candle to burn properly. 

Here are a few options for re-wicking your candle by extending the current wick:

Using Paper to Extend Your Wick

A candle wick made of paper, such as a paper towel or regular copy/office/print paper can be used to extend your wick if your wick is too short to burn, but is still above the candle wax.

  1. Take a small scrap of paper and roll it up, so it looks like a little wick.
  2. Take your candle-lighting device and melt a small pool of wax on top of the candle.
  3. Dip your pseudo-wick into the melted wax to cover it thoroughly.  Tweezers will come in handy here.  You want to coat the paper in wax, so it will not burn too quickly.
  4. There should be enough of the old wick to wrap or slip the new paper wick around the old one. 
  5. Light your new wick and enjoy your candle!
  6. Make sure that the entire surface of the candle melts before you blow out the candle.  This is called a full (or even) wax pool and prevents any future problems, such as tunneling or losing the wick again.

Cotton String or Cord

Take a short cotton string or cord, such as butcher’s twine and dip it in melted wax to coat it.  Allow it to dry and make sure it is stiff, preferably standing up on its own.  Wrap it around the wick stub and make sure it is centered.  Light the cord and allow it to burn down to the old wick to create an even wax pool.

b. Substitute the wick

The other solution to re-wick your candle is to just substitute the wick with another material.  This method will be the best option if your wick is completely buried in the wax.  There are certain materials that will work as a substitute for a wick.


Take a toothpick, shish kabob, or other small slice of wooden material and stick it into the center of the candle.  It may work easier to melt the wax first to soften it up, before adding the toothpick. 

Make sure to coat the wooden material in melted wax first (or you could use the borax solution described below) for the best burn results.  Then, stick it down the center of the candle. 

You may have to use a hammer to push it down the core of the candle.  I’ve also seen a video where someone used a power drill to drill the skewer into the candle.  I guess that’s an option if you have one, but if not, a hammer is probably the best option.

If you don’t have a wooden toothpick, a wooden popsicle stickwould work just as well.  However, make sure you trim it down.  You will have to cut it in half length-wise and cut it down to about 2 inches or less.  Coat it with the melted wax and stick it down the center of the candle.  Light it up and make sure you monitor it closely. 

Paper with a toothpick method

Wrap a small scrap of paper around a toothpick to stick it down into the center of the candle.  You could roll it around a toothpick, which may help it to stick in the candle easier.  Stick it down the center of the candle.  Make sure the wick is centered.  The flame should not be too far to one side, because it will cause an uneven burn.  And if the candle is within a glass container, an off-center wick could cause the glass to break.

If you don’t have any paper, a simple wooden toothpick by itself should work, as well.  As long as you remember to dip the toothpick in melted wax to coat it first, so it will burn longer.  However, make sure you use a short toothpick and don’t have it sticking up too far.  Too long of a wick creates a larger flame and smoke, which leads to soot and black marks.  Unappealing!  Not to mention unsafe!  A large flame could create a fire.  Be careful with this one!

Cotton Method

Make a completely new wick from string dipped in wax.  This method is not the quickest and actually takes a few days to complete, but is a method to create your own candle wicks.  100% cotton twine works the best, but any type of flammable, braided string will work.  You will then coat it so that it burns steady and not too quickly. 

You don’t want a wick that burns too quickly.  Therefore, it’s important to have the right wick and it will be helpful to dip it in a borax solution or melted wax to coat it.  You could create your own wick solution from water, salt, and boric acid (or borax). 


1 cup hot (not boiling) water

1 Tbsp. salt

1 Tbsp. Borax

Butcher’s Twine, Cotton Twine, or any type of thick, braided string or cord

Paper clips or Clothespins

Melted wax

Old container or drop cloth to catch the dropping borax solution or wax


  1. Mix together the water, salt, and borax. 
  2. Soak the twine or string in the solution for about 24 hours.  Hang it up to dry for 48 hours.  Make sure you put something underneath the string to catch the droppings as the twine dries. 
  3. Then, coat the string in the melted wax and let this dry for several minutes.  You can repeat this step a couple times to build up a thick coating of wax, but one coat is sufficient.  However, the more coats of wax that are on the wick will help the wick to burn properly.

How ever many times you chose to dip the string in wax, just make sure that the final wick is stiff and should stand up-right.  This helps the wick to burn properly.  A wick that burns too quickly will extinguish without a full wax pool and cause the candle to burn/melt unevenly. 

The other purpose of coating the material is to make it stiff so it stands upright.  Once you got your wick made and coated, ready for use, you can put it in the candle. The tricky part is to get the wick into the candle.  You will need to make a hole down the center of the candle.  You could do this with a hammer and long nail or screwdriver.

Match Sticks

Match sticks are also good substitutes for a wick.  Light the match and lay it in the center of the candle.  Again, make sure the flame is in the center of the candle so the candle will burn evenly. 

The downfall of this method is that the match will most likely become buried in the wax as the candle melts, so you may have to scrape it out later, unless you use a long-stemmed match.

2.     Transfer to a new container

The next option is that you could completely transfer the candle into a new container. 

  • Get a new wick and glue it to the bottom of an empty container.  You need something to use to keep the wick centered.  Some people wrap the wick around a popsicle stick or you can buy metal wick holders, which sit on the rim of the candle to center the wick. 
  • Melt the wax by using a candle warmer, or the stove-top double-broiler method.  Once all the wax is melted, pull out the short wick with a tweezers.  If it doesn’t come out easily, just leave it. 
  • Pour the melted wax into the new container.  Make sure the new wick stays centered in the new container as the candle cools. 
  • Allow the wax to harden, keeping an eye on the wick to make sure it stays centered.  Then, trim the wick.  Enjoy!

3.     Scrape or pour out the wax around the wick

This final solution is not the best option, but I include it for completeness sake.  You would use this method for a completely buried wick, when there is nothing sticking above the wax.  You could scrape or melt the wax around the wick to get rid of it and un-bury the wick. 

If you chose to do this, I would highly suggest that you keep the wax you remove from your candle.  Otherwise, it is just a waste of wax and money! 

  • Take a lighter and melt the wax around the center and pour it out until the wick is visible again. 
  • Or take a scraping tool, knife, or other sharp object to scrape out the wax around the wick, until the wick is visible again. 

Of course, if you light the candle, it may go out again and bury the wick, because the wax around the edge of the candle will melt and again bury the wick.  So, I would suggest using one of the earlier options I suggested to extend your wick.

How to Prevent a Buried Wick

The most important thing to remember that will help prevent a buried wick is that the wick should always be centered within the candle.  If the wick starts to get off-center, it will start to affect the way the candle burns.  The candle will burn unevenly and will not achieve a full, even wax pool, which could create candle tunneling and bury your wick. 

So, before you blow out your candle, make sure the wick is centered.  If it is not, use a tweezers to center the wick after you blow out the flame and before the wax cools and hardens.  This will assure that you achieve an even wax pool every burn.

Also, make sure you are giving yourself enough time to burn the candle.  Don’t light the candle for 20 minutes and then blow it out.  Make sure you have a full burn cycle for a complete, even, full wax pool.  Every time you burn the candle, don’t blow it out until the entire top layer of wax is melted.  This is called an even or full wax pool.

Finally, try not to cut the wick too short.  The wick should be trimmed each time a candle is burned.  Before you light the candle, trim it to 1/8” to ¼” each time.

Related Questions

Why won’t my candle stay lit?  Consider where you have placed your candle.  If your candle is sitting underneath an air vent or near a window, air drafts or wind may be to blame.  This can cause a flame to flicker and go out.  The other possibility is that there is something wrong with the wick, in which case you can wrap the wick in paper or re-wick it entirely using the methods mentioned above.

Why won’t my wick light anymore?  The wick may not be the correct one for the candle you have.  In which case, you may have to re-wick your candle using the above-mentioned methods.  It may be helpful to coat the wick in melted wax or a borax solution to get the process going again.

What to do about a thin wick?  You could wrap with wick in paper, as suggested earlier in this post.  The other option would be to simply re-wick it with a wooden toothpick, skewer, or popsicle stick.  Please see the option listed above for ideas.

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