Candle wicks often raise many questions: what types are there? Which one should I use? what diameter is appropriate for my candle? All these questions and many more are answered below, read on and learn everything you need to know about candle wicks!
The wick is a fundamental element when making candles; choosing the right one is crucial for proper combustion. What is its function? To make the candle burn and the wax melts little by little. We recommend that you study our review of candle-making wicks.
Types of candle wicks
There are several types of candle wicks, each of which is recommended for different elaborations, so you should choose one or another depending on the candle you are going to make. Let’s know each of them!
- Waxed wick: it is a cotton wick dipped in paraffin, which is ready to be placed in the candle. It is the most common when making candles and works very well for making scented candles, decorative candles with shapes, candlesticks, and candles for candelabra.
- Unwaxed cotton wick: it is natural, made from cotton, and is mainly used in the manufacture of natural candles and carved candles. It can be used unwaxed, but we advise you to wax it because it burns much better.
- An ecological wick is a round, unwaxed cotton wick with a rayon core made from eucalyptus paper. It is mainly used to make ecological, massage, or natural candles.
- Flat wick: it is made of cotton and is ideal for making large candles that will be between 10 and 15 cm in diameter.
- Tea light wick: special wick is used to make small candles, as it helps the candle to burn slowly and last longer. It is a braided wick that is advisable to wax with the same wax used to make tea candles.
- Wick for gel candles: waxed wick that gives very good results with gel wax since it does not alter its properties, mainly its transparency.
- Wood wicks are strips of wood used in candle making. They are usually centered in the wax, similar to a rope wick, to feed the flame by absorbing the wax.
The three types of wood wicks
1. Single-layer wick.
The single-layer wick is the finest wick you can get. As the name suggests, it is a single strip of wood with a thickness of no more than 0.04 inches.
The width is no more than 0.75 inches, making it ideal for small-diameter vessels of no more than 2 inches.
The single-layer wick works very well with natural waxes and those that retain excess fragrance oil but is excellent with non-natural waxes such as paraffin wax or only semi-natural blends such as Para-soy wax.
2. Booster Wick
The booster wick sometimes referred to as a double wick, is almost the same as the single-layer wick. The main difference is that it has an additional strip attached in the middle to the main wick to make it thicker.
The additional strip acts as a thermal output booster. As a result, these types of wood wicks handle natural waxes that retain fragrance oils and have much better low heat output. You can expect great performance with soy wax, beeswax, or palm wax.
3. Spiral wick
The third type of wood wick is the spiral wick. This type of wood wick is tubular in shape with a hollow center. It is still real wood, just manipulated into a spiral design.
The spiral wick burns beautifully with a cylindrical or teardrop-shaped flame. It produces heat at high capacity creating wax pools up to 3.5 inches in diameter. Consequently, they are best used with large-diameter containers.
This type of wood wick works well with all types of wax, whether blends such as coconut and soy wax or all-natural beeswax.
Each type of wood wick comes in various sizes (varying in length and width), but the characteristics remain the same across all categories. The name may vary among distributors, with some labeling them as small, medium, and large, while others label them by codes or numbers.
How to choose the right wicks to make your candles
Now that you know what types of wick there are and for which elaboration each is recommended, it is time to explain how to choose the right wick thickness. Getting it right is essential for good combustion.
To choose the diameter of the wick, three main aspects must be taken into account:
- Diameter of the candle: it is important to consider the diameter because the wider the candle, the more filaments it will have to have.
- The melting point of the paraffin is another important aspect to consider because the higher the melting point of the kerosene, the larger the diameter of the wick.
- The type of raw material we use: kerosene in its different types of fusion, beeswax, soy wax, palm wax, stearin, kerosene + beeswax, etc.
- The use of additives.
Also, it is necessary to consider that other factors, such as the ambient temperature or the colorant used, can influence; that is why it is not an exact science. However, with the following guidelines, it will be easier for you to know which wicks to choose.
To know the diameter of the candle, you have to measure the width of the mold you are going to use or of the container. For example, if the candle is going to be about 6 centimeters wide, it would be advisable to choose a 6-7 centimeter wick.
This is not always the case, as other factors, such as the wax’s melting point, play a role. The higher the melting point of the wax, the harder it will be and, therefore, the harder it will burn. Therefore, the candle will probably need a slightly thicker wick.
The same goes for additives. Most have a high melting point and are used precisely to harden candles. Therefore, choosing a larger wick diameter is usual if an additive is added.
In practice! For example, to make a 7 cm diameter candle with 74º paraffin it would be advisable to use an 8-9 centimeter wick. However, if you are going to make a 7 cm candle with low melting point soy wax, it would be ideal to use a 6-7 cm wick.
If we make two candles with the same diameter, but one is a 66 paraffin wax candle, and the other is a 56 paraffin wax candle, they have different wick numbers. And so on with the rest of the waxes.
If you want to make beeswax candles, it is best to opt for ecological wicks because, in this way, you get your candle to be 100% sustainable. These wicks are free of kerosene; burning them will not emit any harmful substance to the environment.
How to hold candle wicks in place?
- Threading the wick: This is ideal when working with silicone, plastic, or methacrylate molds. Insert the wick through the hole in the base of the mold, pass it from side to side, and fasten it at the other end with a wick holder. Some silicone molds may not have a hole, but they can be easily made at home with a sharp object.
- Guide rod + wick holder: when the mold does not have a base, a guide rod is placed in the center and held in place at the top with a wick holder. A little wax is poured on the base to seal it, and after a few seconds of waiting, the mold is completely filled. To remove the guide rod, you can use a pair of pliers and simply place the wick in the hole left by the guide rod. This technique is the most common when making candles, large candles. In short, when using PVC molds.
- Once the candle is finished: in some cases, especially for small candles, the wick can be placed at the end of the process with the help of a guide rod. Fill the mold, wait for it to solidify and, without it being completely cold, unmold the candle. This must be done at the ideal moment: when it is solid enough not to break but still warm inside so that the candle can be pierced with the guide rod and the wick can be placed without any problems.
- Candles in a container: There are two options for candles in a glass. The simplest is to insert the wick directly into the candle’s center when the top layer has begun to solidify, but the inside is still hot. The wick is placed first with the second technique, and the pouring is done. In this case, the wick is cut to the glass size and inserted into an eyelet. It is glued to the bottom of the glass, well centered, and filled with wax.
How to wax cotton wicks?
Earlier, we mentioned that it is advisable to wax the cotton wicks to burn better.
- Cut the wick to the length you need and leave a little margin to hold it well.
- Melt the wax over low heat, and when it is melted, transfer it to a high container to work better. It is advisable to wax the wick in the same wax you will use for your elaboration.
- Dip the wick in the wax, take it out and wait a few seconds. You can repeat this process several times, depending on the thickness you want for the wick.
- When the wick is waxed, let it cool completely, and you will have it ready to use.
What happens if the wick is not the right one?
If the wick is not right, the candle will most likely not burn well. It may make a puddle of melted wax because it burns too fast, or it may only burn a part of the candle because it is not strong enough to melt all the wax.
Is there a solution? Most of the time, yes, since the wick can be removed with a bit of skill. If you see that it does not burn well, you can replace it with one of a smaller or larger thickness and check the result.
There is no exact and infallible formula for choosing the thickness of the wick. We always advise doing small tests before manufacturing candles on a large scale.
We hope we have cleared many of the doubts that usually arise about the wicks for candles and that this article will be of help in your handmade elaborations. If you have any questions, you can send them to us through the comments section.
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Carole Brooks has been making candles for many years. She loves to create candles of all different types and for all different purposes. Here she shares her experience and knowledge. Carole is a graduate of Texas A&M University.