Candles are great mood enhancers for any room in the house, but ones that drip wax on floor or furniture can create significant cleanup problems.
The first step to making a candle dripless is to remember that all candles operate under the same principle: The heat from the burning wick, which is always made from a very porous material, usually cotton, melts the candle wax. The candle wax thus melted is absorbed by capillary action up through the wick, where it is burned by the flame. A balance must be struck between the diameter of the wick and the diameter of the candle. If the wick is too large for the diameter of the candle, the candle will burn too quickly and with a smoky flame. Too small and the accumulated liquid wax can extinguish the flame, or cause dripping.
An age old method of making any candle dripless is to soak it for an entire day in salted water. The proportions call for about a teaspoon of salt per cup of water, with enough water to cover the candle completely.
Even with a properly balanced candle from the manufacturer, it is important to follow a few basic rules to make certain that even a dripless candle burns driplessly. To burn efficiently, it is important that the candle remain as upright as possible. The candle should stand perfectly straight and be perfectly still while it is lit. Deviations from this position will result in uneven burning and will increase the likelihood of dripping. The room should also be free from drafts, as even the slightest breeze can upset the balance between wax and flame and potentially create dripping.
Candle makers themselves use various techniques to make their candles dripless. A tall, slender dripless candle is made by using a thicker, and thus more absorbent, wick. These wicks are absorbent enough to draw up the melting wax and burn it before it accumulates a sufficient volume to drip. These candles have a flame which is always visible at the top of the taper.
Thicker, pillar-style dripless candles are made by combining at least two different formulations of wax: a soft low-melting-point wax in the core, surrounded by a harder higher-melting point-wax on the outside. The effect is that the candle burns driplessly down the center of the taper, while the outer part of the candle remains intact. These candles have flames which are not not easily visible since they are inside of the taper.