A normal candle flame offers only a small amount of light, but at times we can make do with much less, especially if candles and other lighting sources are precious.  Most people can see objects and people in a room with just a dim glow.  Your eyes will adjust a great deal.  You can make a candle flame much smaller, conserving the wax (fuel), by trimming the wick short and also by managing the wax.  My experience, so far, pertains mainly to larger diameter candles, often called "pillar candles".   Those which are 1.4" inches (35mm) or larger in diameter, though in the case of beeswax, it may be 1" (25mm) or larger, because it's a harder wax.  There is also way to extend thinner candles (eg, those approximately 3/4" (19mm) in diameter, a common size), but it requires tending the candles perhaps every 5 or 10 minutes.   I'll talk about this at the end.  Pillar candles might go for an hour or two without needing attention.  The life of a 50 or 100 hour pillar candle can possibly be extended to 300 or 500 hours or more.  I like candles which are 2" - 2.5" (51 to 63mm) in diameter.  They're also cheaper than narrow candles, per weight.  More fuel for your money.  Lately, I've bought ones which weigh about 1 pound (.45kg) for about $3 at dollar stores.  Dollarama outlets are my main source.

Start by cutting the wick to 1/4" or so in length.  Depending on the type of wax and wick, it may need to be a bit longer, or you might be able to go even shorter.  Experiment.  Light the wick and see what it does.  However, when a candle is cold, you may need to let it burn for 10 or 20 minutes before making further adjustments.  Why?  The flame will at first only melt and use the wax immediately around it.  So, the wick will become longer almost right away, as it consumes this wax.  Wait a while.  As the melted wax pool enlarges, it will give you a truer picture of how the small flame affects the wax and how the melted wax pool affects the small flame.  This will be different than when you just left the wick alone and let the candle burn naturally, with a regular or large flame.  And if the shortened wick is clumpy, you can also trim the top clumps a bit, at a slight angle, to produce a slightly pointed wick end, which may produce a nicer shaped flame.  Too pointy might not be good.  Again, experiment to see what works best on a given candle.  See how small you can make a flame, yet still have it steady and consistent, and throwing useful-enough light.

If you have extra wax, you can carefully feed it into the melted wax pool to raise its level and add fuel.  This is another way of shortening the wick and is preferable to cutting the wick off, if you have extra wax.  The burning candle itself will usually provide extra wax because the much smaller flame produces less heat and cannot melt the outer portions of a large diameter candle.  So, a "collar" of unmelted wax develops, and it can be cut off.  This is best done when the candle is cold.  Put the candle on its side on a cutting board and use a sharp knife.  The wax may come off in chunks or as something more like sawdust.  Save it in a container.  "Sawdust wax" can be fed into the melted wax pool of a burning candle with a teaspoon.  Small chunks can be carefully slid into the pool with your fingers.   If you still have extra wax, save it to make new candles.  The larger the diameter of the candle, the bigger the collar will be.  Collars also block light, so this is another reason to cut them off.

If your small flame is in danger of drowning or you need more light, instead of feeding in more wax, pour some of the melted wax pool off to make the wick longer.  Pour it into something so you can save it, preferably something flexible and that it won't stick to, unduly, so you can peel it off or break it when it is cool.  Wax is fuel, never throw it away.

If your wick doesn't work well when altered, you can replace it with another.  I use good quality cotton string, though of course specifically designated as candle wicking exists, too, but it costs more.  I bought a big ball of "Butcher's String" and have have a lot of success with it in candles and oil lamps.  It's about 1/8" (3mm) in diameter, but twisted, not braided, so I can take or leave as many strands as I like, to get a wick of desired thickness.  Retwist these strands.  dipping or rolling it in some melted wax will help you straighten and stiffen it with your fingers.  Many new pillar candles simply have a hole in the center where wick has been inserted and is a bit loose, so it can be removed and replaced.  However, once a candle has been lit, melted wax soon cements the wick in place, top to bottom, so then it is hard or impossible to remove.  If a candle is not working with a given wick, you will have to find another way to replace it, or you can simply use the the whole candle in different way.  Melt it down, perhaps, and make a new candle with the wicking you want, or shave it down and feed the wax into another pillar candle.  Butcher's twine or string might also come in a smaller diameter, I need to check this.

Okay, how to extend the life of long tapers, the 3/4" (20mm) or so diameter candles?  As I said, it's more hands-on.   You also need three or four of these candles.  At least, this is only way I've discovered, so far.  Why?  The small flame will produce a melted wax pool which it cannot consume before it gets too big and spills down the side of the candle, making the wick instantly much longer and your candle misshapen.  A mess.  So, light your next candle, a cold one, from the first candle, before this spillage happens.  Allow the first candle to cool and harden.  And trim the wick again, if necessary.  During my test, I was changing candles every 5-8 minutes, so I needed three or four, so that the first one was cold and hard again by the time I got back to it.

Good to know that that can be done, but see how much more work that is?  This is why I prefer pillar candles, but I like narrow candles as "transfer" candles.  That is, to transfer the flame from one candle to another, or to use to start a campfire, or a fire in a wood stove, or to hold the flame while I tend to a candle.  Trimming the wick while it is burning usually doesn't work for me.  By holding the flame or transferring it on a narrow candle, you conserve lighter fluid and flint, or matches.  In hard times or times of short supplies, there are many little tricks to stretch your resources, of course.

Let me know what your candle efficiency tricks are.  Thanks !

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When trimming a wick, it's important to cut it cleanly with a sharp scissors or nail clipper.  A ragged or clumpy wick will produce a flame which is not nicely shaped, not as bright and which consumes considerably more wax per hour.

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