Candles are one of life’s simple pleasures. When lit, they create a soothing ambiance and fill your home with lovely scents. But without the right wick, your candle experience would be lackluster.

The wick is an essential part of every candle. It brings the flame to life and allows the candle wax to melt and release its aroma. Whether you’re a candle enthusiast eager to make your own or just want to better understand this integral component, read on to become a wick wizard.

What are Candle Wicks Made Of?

Candle wicks are typically made from braided cotton fibers. Cotton makes an excellent wick material because it burns cleanly without releasing smoke or odor. Wicks are also sometimes crafted from wood, paper, or other natural materials. Synthetic wicks exist too, but tend to produce more soot.

Why Does Wick Material Matter?

The type of wick impacts your candle’s burn quality, hotness, and more. Cotton wicks are the most common choice, as they’re affordable and offer a bright, even flame. Wooden wicks crackle when lit, emitting a pleasant fireside aroma. Wicks also come in different widths or plaits to suit votives, pillars, containers, and various wax types. Ultimately, the wick material significantly affects the overall candle experience.

What Are the Different Kinds of Candle Wicks?

There are several varieties of wicks used in candle making, each with their own unique properties:

Cotton Wicks

  • Made from braided cotton fibers or thread
  • The most popular and widely used wick type
  • Available in different widths and plaits
  • Offers a bright, even flame
  • It works with most wax types.

Wooden Wicks

  • Made from natural wood like bamboo
  • Provides a fireside scent when burned.
  • Creates a crackling, dancing flame
  • Best for soy, vegetable, or palm waxes

Core Wicks

  • Have a cotton exterior wrapped around a paper or metal core.
  • Allows for a brighter flame
  • Less prone to bending or drowning
  • Good for container candles

Zinc or Lead Core Wicks

  • A cotton exterior wound around a zinc or lead core
  • Produces high heat for burning lamps and paraffin oils.
  • Not recommended due to metal runoff

So whether you prefer the classic cotton braid, the crackling wood wick, or something more heavy-duty, there’s an option suited for every candle.

How Do You Make a Candle Wick at Home?

Crafting wicks is a fairly straightforward DIY project. Here’s a simple tutorial for making basic cotton wicks:

Supplies Needed:

  • Cotton yarn or string
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Wick sustainers or sticks

Step 1: Cut your cotton yarn into lengths slightly taller than your candle height.

Step 2: For a basic wick, wrap three strands together tightly by hand.

Step 3: For a wider wick, wrap 4-6 strands together.

Step 4: Attach a wick sustainer base or secure ends around a stick.

Step 5: Trim the top end so it sticks out 1/4 inch.

And that’s it! Now you have homemade candle wicks ready for wax. You can experiment with different materials (paper, fabric strips) or create braided or twisted designs too.

How Do You Know What Wick Size to Use?

Choosing the right thickness and type of wick for your candle is crucial. Wicks that are too small can tunnel or drown. Oversized wicks may cause sooting. Use this general guide:

  • Votives and containers under 3 inches (CD 10–12 wick)
  • Large pillars, 4-6 inches, CD 16-18 wick
  • Extra large pillars (6+ inches)—CD (20+ wick)

If using wooden wicks, opt for a slightly larger width, given their tendency to shrink when burned. Customizing testing is also helpful to find your perfect wick.

What Impacts How Well a Candle Burns?

Many factors influence candle performance, including wick size, wax type, vessel shape, and wick priming. Properly preparing wicks helps candles burn evenly from edge to edge. Warming and straightening the wicks prior to first lighting allows wax to fully coat the strands. Pillar and taper candles may require additional maintenance, like wick centering and trimming during burning.

How Should You Care for Candle Wicks?

Basic wick care helps candles burn their best.

  • Trim wicks to 1/4 inch before lighting to avoid excess smoking.
  • Gently straighten the wicks every few burns so they remain centered.
  • Allow the melted wax to fully coat and prime the wicks before the first burn.
  • Avoid drafts and burning candles for over 4 hours to prevent tunneling.
  • Use wick dippers to extinguish candles and prevent wax evaporation.

What’s the Difference Between Flat and Round Braided Wicks?

Wicks come in two basic shapes:

Flat wicks:

  • Have a flat, tape-like shape when plaited
  • Burn slowly with a wide melt pool.
  • Good for container candles, especially with additives

Round braided wicks:

  • Made from tightly twisted fibers
  • Burn hotter and brighter.
  • Better for self-standing pillars or tapers

So flat wicks are preferable for fragranced wax blends, while round braids suit freestanding or tapered candles.

Should You Use Cotton, Wood, or Paper Wicks?

Each wick material brings different benefits:

  • Cotton: affordable, reliable, bright flame
  • Wooden: natural, fireside scent, decorative
  • Paper is eco-friendly, reduces carbon, and may need replenishing.

Cotton makes the best all-purpose wick for its smokeless burn, versatility, and cost. Wooden wicks add crackling charm for ambiance. Paper can work for container candles but may need to be replaced as they burn down.

How Does Wick Size Impact Candle Burning?

Wick width impacts heat level, melt pool, and burn time. Wider wicks tend to burn hotter and produce a larger wax pool. But oversized wicks can cause excess smoke, spillover, or even flame flare-ups. Finer wicks burn slower and cooler. Finding the ideal middle ground for your candle style is key. Testing different wick types is the best way to achieve your perfect flame.

What is the Best Candle Wick?

The “best” wick depends on your candle specifications:

Pillar candles: CD 20+ round braided wick
Scented soy containers: CD 10 flat cotton wick Beeswax tapers: Series 200 square braided wick

Factors like wax type, candle shape, size, additives, and the presence of dye, or FO, also help determine the ideal wick for optimal burn. While cotton is the top choice for most candles, wiggle room exists in finding the best width, plait, and shape.

How Do I Know if My Candle Has the Right Wick?

You have the right wick if:

  • Your candle burns from edge to edge without tunneling.
  • The wax pool reaches 1/2 inch deep.
  • The flame reaches 1 inch high.
  • No smoke or soot residue
  • Nice wax melt, throw, and burn time

Careful testing and observation provide the best feedback on the wick’s performance. Adjusting width or material transforms the burn.

Key Takeaways

  • Candle wicks are vital for even burning and wax melting.
  • Many wick varieties exist, like cotton, wood, paper, zinc, and lead.
  • Proper wicking prevents tunneling, sinking, and sooting.
  • Match the wick size to your candle size for an ideal melt pool.
  • Pre-burn wick preparation, like centering and trimming, is key.
  • Test different wicks to find your candle’s perfect flame.

Now that you know your wicks, you can craft perfect candles with confidence. So go ahead and experiment with different wick types and sizes to find your candle’s ideal fit.

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