As winter storms rage across the country, I think of the people who may end up losing electrical power and need to dig out ye olde box of candles to see. This leads me to pass on a helpful household trick.
Most people have had the experience of pulling out a previously used candle and finding that the wick has been bent down and encased in a tomb of wax. There are two schools of thought regarding how to free the wick and use the candle again:
(1) Take a penknife or a butter knife and dig out the wax around the wick. This method can work but has the downside that if you are not careful you can cut the crisp wick itself, leading it to break off.
(2) Light a match and hold it over the area where the wick is embedded. As the wax melts, gently pry the wick free with the end of the match or another implement (a ball point pen usually works well). This trick can also work but has the downside that unless you have an unusually long match, it is easy to burn your fingers before the wax melts.
Now, here is the incredible useful secret to doing this that I discovered years ago: It does not matter at all which method you use, it only matters what time of day you do it.
If at the end of a long day of work you come home and attempt either technique, you can usually free the wick in no time. However, if you go to sleep and try either approach first thing in the morning, you will fail every time.
The reason is simple:
There is no wick for the rested