There are a handful of decisions to make when making candles; for container or not, for scented or unscented, natural or synthetic wax, etc. Choosing a wick is one of the most critical decisions. The common choices are wood and cotton wicks, and obviously, you want the best ones for your candles.
So, are wood wicks better than cotton wicks? Wood wicks are not better than cotton wicks, nor are they the other way around. Each wick has its own unique properties that suit different consumer preferences.
Your choice will depend on certain variables, including the type of wax you use, the size of the jar, your budget, the candle’s purpose, etc.
This article will compare wood wicks with cotton wicks, their pros and cons, and how to choose between them.
What are cotton wicks?
Cotton wicks need no introduction as they are traditional wicks. When you first encountered a candle, it was probably a cotton wick candle.
- The cotton wick is usually a strand of braided cotton yarn and may contain paper or other fibers in the core.
- The cord is often waxed to support an upright posture. Even so, it is still flexible and requires some tooling to keep it straight while pouring the wax.
- A cotton wick is easy to light and has a characteristic high, bright flame. It burns hotter, fairly cleanly, and does not need much maintenance, as it is self-consuming.
- However, if the wick becomes too long, it can sometimes become fungus, causing soot production. Fungus formation is when carbon builds up on the tip; therefore, the wick must be trimmed with scissors or nail clippers.
- The blackness of soot is unpleasant to look at, and if it is a scented candle, it also interferes with the aroma.
- They come in a wide range of sizes in small increments. So, if you are a beginner in candle making, you should reasonably experiment with a range of sizes to find the right one.
- The good news is that cotton wicks can be purchased for almost no cash. You get so much for so little.
It can be quite complicated to set it up for beginners, but it is not difficult once you learn how to do it. Unfortunately, a flexible cotton wick could curl or tilt once the wax melts into a puddle, causing a potentially dangerous candle.
You should keep in mind that not all cotton wicks are 100% cotton. Especially if your candle-making business is based on environmental friendliness or if you are making candles for personal use or as gifts and are concerned about toxicity.
Some cotton wicks have synthetic cores and even metals such as lead or zinc that prevent the wick from burning out too quickly. However, these components can produce noxious fumes when burned.
- Very inexpensive
- Trouble-free illumination
- Low maintenance
- Bright and resistant flame
- Works regardless of wax type
- Flexible can be bent/tilted after wax melts
What are wood wicks?
After the cotton wick dominated the candle market for many decades, the more elegant option came: wood wicks. Wood wicks are a fresh, modern alternative that screams sophistication.
- Wood wicks are slabs (or tubes) of dry wood with thin measurements, usually between 0.30 and 0.75 inches wide. Thickness also varies, with the maximum being 0.04 inches.
- Popularly, they are made of balsa, cherry, maple, rosewood, or birch, but there are many types of wood strands.
- The wicks are placed in the candle’s center to absorb the melted wax as fuel and burn, similar to cotton wicks. The difference is in configuring them.
- Crafting with wood wicks is easy, as they are rigid and do not need centering tools on holding them still. Not that securing cotton wicks is an extremely difficult task, but a tool-free process is certainly admirable.
- In addition, the wooden wicks stay centered and upright even after the wax melts. On the other hand, relighting a wood wick can test your patience, mainly because people are familiar with relighting cotton wicks all at once.
- With wood wicks, it’s not so simple. Because they are denser, you may need up to four tries and a little babysitting to light them.
- When lit, a wood wick flame burns lower and cleaner than its counterparts. Being a finicky match to light with a low flame, it is best for an indoor candle where there is little or no movement or wind to blow it out.
- The wide variety of wood wick widths makes them ideal for large-diameter jars to avoid tunneling. The lower and wider flame creates the wider melt pool needed.
- After a considerable burning time, a wood wick begins to char and may leave ash on top of the melted pool.
- Charred wicks should be trimmed (usually after each use) by breaking off the darkened portion or using scissors. Maintaining a length of approximately 1/8 inch is standard practice.
You should keep in mind that wood wicks are picky about wax and that different wood wicks work best with a specific type of wax. Wood wicks generally work best in natural waxes and natural blends. Only single-ply wood wicks perform well in kerosene wax.
If you think wood wick candles are attractive, they have much more to offer than style. The wick burns with whispering or crackling sounds that many find appealing.
In addition, wood wicks, when used with scented wax, offer a slightly better scent than cotton wicks. Because the flame burns lower and burns without a flame, it heats the entire wax, allowing it to gradually release the scent and not burn it off quickly as cotton wicks do.
100% natural wood wicks are a sustainable and environmentally friendly option. However, some wood wick suppliers may treat them with borax, artificial oils, or other chemicals to improve flame quality.
It is best to research the purity of the wood wicks and the cotton wicks you intend to purchase if you are bothered by the idea of harmful gas emissions. Any treatments or components should be organic.
- Rigid, no clips needed while setting, and stays centered
- Uniform and clean burn
- Great scent throw
- Raises the value of candles
- Difficulty in restarting and staying on
- High price
- Few distributors, making them difficult to obtain.
- Struggles with some types of wax
- inconsistent results
Which one should you choose?
As a budding candle connoisseur, you can see that the choice of wick determines the type of candle you will make. It also influences the end-user experience and even the cost, among other things.
Having looked at the qualities of wood and cotton wicks, it should be easier to decide which to choose.
This side-by-side comparison should bring you one step closer.
|Features||Wood wicks||Cotton wicks|
|Aesthetics||Unique and modern||Simple and traditional|
|Sound||Pleasant rustling or rustling||No sound|
|Compatibility with waxes||Natural or natural blended waxes||All types of waxes|
|Burning time||Slow||Fast, but can be slowed down by keeping the fuse short|
|Ease of set-up||No tool adjustment||Requires a wick bar, clip, or other tools to center the wick|
|Ease of lighting||It takes several attempts to turn on||It turns on in the first instance|
|Maintenance||Regular and accurate trimming is required to remove carbon to stay on||No maintenance is required to stay on at any length|
So which wick is best for you?
Choose cotton wicks if you are:
- Looking for simplicity and good lighting over luxury
- Low budget
- A beginner still experimenting with the candle
- Using a variety of waxes
- looking for consistency
If you’re making simple candles to produce a warm, well-lit atmosphere without the fuss of regular maintenance, choose a cotton wick.
Anyone starting on a low budget will also appreciate how affordable these wicks are. They are experimental and economical.
Plus, cotton wicks work well with all types of waxes, even synthetics like kerosene wax. They are also perfect for outdoor candles as the flame is more vital.
Choose wood wicks if you are:
- Creating candles for a luxurious indoor experience
- Not limited by finances
- Making scented candles
- Patient and don’t mind regular maintenance
- Pour into wide vessels
If you’re making high-end luxury candles rather than candles for mere illumination, go with wooden wicks. They are timelessly beautiful and atmospheric.
The sounds produced evoke nostalgia, flooding memories of a fireplace. In addition, they also work best in throwing scent, so they are recommended for scented candles.
Wood wicks are also best when using natural waxes and natural blends. A wood wick would be perfect for creating larger melt pools if you plan to make candles in wider jars.
Hopefully, this information will make you a much better candle maker, as you can now choose a wick like a pro. Wood wicks vs. cotton wicks, neither is better than the other. It all depends on the variables.
Both can make fantastic candles, so if you want to try either, go ahead and feed your curiosity. Happy candle making.
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.