The Decorative Candle Tip That Has TikTok Divided

Adding a new gorgeous candle to your collection is always an exciting feeling. Many people can't wait to get home and set it up on the mantel to let its scent fill their home. But as you lean forward to light the wick, you might pause and think, "If I light this now, it won't ever look quite the same." The temptation to leave a beautiful candle unburned is understandable, especially with so many fun and funky-shaped candles available on the market today. However, a TikTok video shared by Brigette Muller (@hummusbirrd) explains that you should always blacken the wicks of a new candle. At least, that's according to tradition — and her friend, Bonnie, who apparently takes the liberty of lighting host's candles for them when she's visiting a home. 

Muller's video stirred up quite a bit of candle controversy. Some people insist that keeping an unburnt candle in a home just seems odd, but to others, burning decorative candles sounds a little counterintuitive. Here's what you need to know about this controversial take on decorating and how you can make your candles look more lived-in, if you so choose.  

To light or not to light, that is the question

In her TikTok video, after lighting the candle for a few seconds, Brigette Muller quickly extinguishes the flame, leaving behind a blacked wick. "I don't care if you never light it again. As long as it has a black tip and a little bit of a melted top, that's all you need." 

Supposedly, the decorating technique will make your space feel more lived-in, and as some commenters put it, less like a home superstore showroom. "Things meant for a purpose but used as decoration can make a space feel uncomfortable," noted one commenter. According to some others, keeping unlit candles on display can bring in bad luck, while others say it's potentially offensive to guests: "This is also an etiquette thing because when electricity was first becoming popular it was considered rude to display unlit candles." But if these rules seem a little silly and outdated to you, you're not alone. As one commenter put it, "It's sounding like Bonnie wouldn't be invited anymore after that. It's my house, I'll have unlit candles if I want to!"

Lightly used candles are considered classy

While we can't confirm that they'll bring you bad luck, there are indeed some unspoken rules of "candle etiquette" that seem to be forgotten today. Lighting wicks before displaying the candles truly is the polite way to decorate. Lighting the candles, even for a moment, will give the impression that you're not caught up in appearances and you're willing to embrace life's fleeting joys. This trick is especially important for tapered candles, which can have an awkward, over-polished look when brand new, but it also works on pillar candles and other fun, unusual shapes. Votive candles are the exception to this rule, as used votives can look too informal and their small size burns down rather quickly after lighting. 

Next time you're switching up your seasonal decorative candles, light them and let them melt for a few seconds. When the wick is dark and a "bowl" starts to form in the wax, extinguish the flame with a candle snuffer tool to avoid smoke and wax splatter. If you're feeling extra fancy, you can even let the wax form a few visible drips down the side of the candle before snuffing it out! Always trim the wicks to 1/4" so they look tidy and ready to use, even if you never decide to light them again.