Choosing the right wick for your candle can make the difference between a good and a bad candle.
As a beginner candle maker, buy the wicks pre-tabbed, cut, and coated. The primary differences are the wick sizes in diameter. The diameter of the candle determines the diameter of the wick. Testing wick sizes with your vessels, wax, and fragrance is the only way to know for sure that you have the correct one.
You can buy them pre-tabbed and coated or on a spool.
Candle wicks come in three basic designs that are braided cotton. There are flat braided, square braided, or core braided. The core is usually zinc or paper.
The wick plays an important role in your candle as it is the fuel delivery system between the wax and the flame.
Braiding the cotton allows for oxygen to feed the flame and the wick to bend out of the way so that it will continue to burn.
A wick that is burning faster than the wax can travel upward to feed the flame will mushroom with carbonized soot on the end. This will need to be trimmed off. This will result in a candle that will not last as long or will burn too hot. It may also produce a smokey flame and leave soot.
All candles require testing. I have included affiliate links to help you in your candle-making journey. We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post via affiliate links to products or services associated with content in this article.
Candle making is a delicate craft that marries artistry and science. Among the myriad factors that contribute to a candle’s performance and aesthetic appeal, the choice of wick plays a pivotal role. This article delves into the intricate world of candle wicks, elucidating their importance, types, and their nuanced suitability for various waxes and applications.
Understanding the nuances of wick selection not only improves the candle-making process but also enhances customer satisfaction and the overall success of a candle-making venture.
The Essence of Wick Understanding
Comprehending the science behind wick selection is akin to mastering an essential skill. The type and size of the wick wield the power to influence flame performance and fuel supply, particularly when working with complex and viscous wax compositions. With the goal of demystifying the various facets of candle wicks, this video seeks to elucidate the distinct functions of different wick types and their impact on the candle-making journey.
Unveiling the Basics
At the heart of the candle’s luminous dance lies the wick—a braided or knitted cotton strand that carries the flame and capillary action-driven fuel supply. While the wick’s role seems straightforward, a plethora of variables exist that can sway its performance. Delving into the intricacies of wicking is crucial to overcoming common frustrations in candle making, with the type and size of the wick emerging as primary challenges.
Navigating Wick Selection Complexity
Selecting a wick that can provide the precise amount of fuel to sustain a consistent flame presents a multifaceted challenge. The vast landscape of wick options—each with distinct attributes—demands careful consideration. Crafting a harmonious connection between wick type, size, and wax viscosity is essential to unlock the full potential of a candle’s glow.
The realm of wick selection boasts a myriad of choices—thousands, in fact. Making an informed decision hinges on understanding the application and the intricacies of the wax’s viscosity. Incorporating additives, such as candle dye or UV inhibitors, can compound the complexity, potentially leading to wick clogs and compromised fuel supply.
Incorrect Wick Choice
Opting for an ill-suited wick type or size can unleash a cascade of problems, including clogging, fuel starvation, and unsightly mushrooming. To evade these pitfalls, meticulous selection based on the fuel type and other variables inherent to candle making is imperative.
Distinct fuels mandate corresponding wicks. Inadequate wick selection can result in clogging, fuel deprivation, extinguished flames, and the unsightly appearance of mushrooming. A careful pairing between wick and fuel type averts these adversities.
Balancing Wick Size
Inappropriately sized wicks can trigger hazardous flames and premature candle consumption, leading to customer dissatisfaction. Achieving the desired burn duration and flame characteristics necessitates a harmonious marriage between wick and wax, complemented by meticulous size selection.
Wick choice delves deeper, encompassing variables such as wax type, fragrance oil, and additives. Recognizing the holistic nature of these elements is paramount, as alterations necessitate rigorous retesting and potential adjustments in wick type and size.
Navigating Wick Variety
Distinct candle types demand specific wick characteristics, contingent on container type, diameter, and other intricacies. The universe of wick options extends from square braid to flat braid wicks, each offering unique flame dynamics and burn profiles.
Selecting the correct wick aligns with the demands of the wax type, ensuring optimal performance. Wicks work similar to a drinking straw.
Customizing Wick Selection
Just as a thick straw proves inefficient for water, mismatched wick choices compromise efficiency. Candle variety necessitates wick diversity, factoring in container type, diameter, additives, oils, and fragrances, with an expansive array of specific wick options to explore.
Three broad categories—square braid, flat braid, and cord wicks—unveil diverse flame profiles. Square braid wicks offer robust flames, while flat braid wicks, favored for their ease of curling, enjoy wider popularity. Self-trimming wicks introduce an added dimension by extinguishing themselves, albeit with occasional nuances.
Wick Material and Form
Cotton wicks encompass a spectrum of flame strengths and clogging propensities. Square braid wicks, while robust, may suffer clogs, whereas cord wicks tout rigidity with potential for mushrooming.
A deeper dive into the wick variety reveals cotton core, zinc core, and wooden wicks. These options cater to distinct wax types, offering nuanced characteristics that contribute to candle luminance.
HTP wicks, revered flat braid wicks featuring paper threads for structure, shine as versatile contenders. Opting for wax-coated versions simplifies deployment, offering consistent curls across various wax formulations.
HDPE Wicks and Beyond
HDPE wicks secure their place as a staple, championing candle-making endeavors. Square braid and LX wicks carve distinctive niches, catering to beeswax and symmetrical burn pools, respectively.
The LX wick, a high stock option, promises centered elegance but bears tall flames, ideally suiting paraffin and parasol waxes over soy.
Summary of Wick Types
The crux of the matter remains divergent wick selections for varied wax types. Eco wicks shine with soy, while RR D wicks blend LX and cotton core attributes. Meticulous placement and specific uses.
Eco and RR D Wicks
Eco wicks triumph with soy, though their success elsewhere is limited. RR D wicks, a hybrid breed, don both LX and cotton core characteristics, enjoying support from select suppliers.
Trimming and reusing wicks remains a prudent practice, demanding correct insertion for optimal fuel flow. RRD wicks tackle tougher waxes, as do Heinz Jensen’s technical braid wicks, consolidating their position.
CDN wicks boast chemical protection against certain corrosive waxes, yet little divergence surfaces compared to CD wicks.
Stabilo and Premier 700 Wicks
Stabilo, a.k.a. CD wick, thrives within Hines Jensen’s sphere. Premier 700 wicks command attention as versatile assets for the candle-making journey.
The premier 700 wick emerges as a versatile candidate, championing various candle types. However, wick testing, tailored to wax and fragrance, remains paramount. A medley of recommendations, including LX, zinc core, HDPE, CD, eco, Paris eyes, and HTP wicks, grace the spotlight.
Premier 700 wicks, hybrids boasting consistent burns, minimal smoke, and diverse sizing, exemplify adaptability across candle types.
No Universal Wick Solution
The journey to the ideal wick shuns a one-size-fits-all approach. Customization is key, driving the imperative to test wicks across wax and fragrance types.
Optimal wick selection, a vital ingredient for the perfect candle, mandates exhaustive testing. This holistic approach reaps rewards in candle luminance.
Navigating Wax Diversity
For paraffin wax, a quartet of contenders—LX, Premier 700, zinc core, and HDPE wicks. Soy wax – CD and eco wicks emerge as soy allies, addressing viscosity challenges. While versatile, CD wicks may disrupt symmetry, making them a contentious choice.
Soy-based candles warrant a distinct wick selection: Premier 700s, zinc premier, HDPE, eco, and CD wicks. Simpler wick selections are achievable with coconut or coconut-paraffin blend candles. Navigating wick size adjustments alongside the use of wick tabs or superior adhesive solutions is crucial.
Premier 700s, zinc premier, HDPE, eco, and sporadic saw or CD wicks epitomize soy-based candle partners. For coconut-based blends, simpler wicks take the stage.
Securing Wick Attachment
Wick stickers prove commonplace, yet quality matters. Maintaining jar cleanliness and firm wick pressing promote adhesion. Stickers survive hot wax and adhesive.
Hot glue and RTV silicone adhesive emerge as recommended alternatives, providing sturdy wick adherence, with the latter being cost-effective and efficient.
Cotton wicks, though pivotal, introduce challenges, from stubborn jar adhesion to extended curing times. However, their versatility shines, especially in industrial applications.
Cotton wicks, exemplifying high-temperature resistance and liquid defiance, find prominence in industries beyond candle making.
Cotton wicks, while resilient, pose challenges like stubborn jar removal and extended curing periods, hindering jar reusability and quick candle production.
Wick Mastery: The Ultimate Quest
Mastery over wick selection remains pivotal for successful candle making, as it affects candle quality, customer satisfaction, and business triumph.
In the intricate world of candle making, the choice of wick transcends mere functionality; it influences the very essence of a candle’s character. This comprehensive guide underscores the indispensability of understanding wick selection, shedding light on its intricate dynamics and multifaceted variables. With wisdom distilled from the interplay of wick types, sizes, and wax compositions, candle makers can illuminate the world with their creations, resonating with the desires of customers and the aspirations of their craft.
A candlewick should be trimmed to 1/4″ after each use and wick care also plays a role.
I am including my cheat sheet for wick sizes because this is the most confusing part of candle making.
Candle Vessel Wick Starter-Guide
Some wicks work better in soy and some better in paraffin. This is just a starting point. This is for containers and pillars. All candles need testing.
If you need help – calculating how much wax and fragrance go into the candle
Flat braided wicks are used for pillar candles or candles that are dipped. This type of wick is usually sold on a spool and you would cut it to length. A flat braided wick would need to be stretched in place and would not stand on its own.
Used in a container candle this wick could fall over or move as the candle burned. I have never seen it sold as a pre-tabbed and coated wick so I doubt that you could buy it that way.
This is the most common wick beginning candle makers use. It is readily available pre-tabbed and coated. They are stiff enough to stand up with the support of a centering tool and easy to work with.
Wicks come in many sizes. The smaller used for tealights have a diameter of about 1.5” and the largest for candle jars at about 3” in diameter. As your candles get larger than 3” I would suggest that you use more than one wick.
I have made so many candles through the years and when you find something that works it is hard to change. I started making candles when I had to make my wicks using a cotton cord, salt, and borax. I poured paraffin wax into milk cartons. It was a mess and the candles were too!
The coating on the wick is not wax. It is a chemical film that is meant to slow down the burning. It is a flame-retardant pickling. If you make your wicks from a cotton cord or yarn they will burn fast and hot.
The first commercially made wicks I bought were the CD style. These are okay, but I did not get the consistency I look for when I mass-produce. I had issues off and on and switched to HTP. You need to do your testing with what you use.
I only buy from candle supply stores. They are the best resource for what they sell. I can only tell you about my experience using what I purchased. Unfortunately, wicks from Amazon sometimes are “unknown”.
The other problem I have had through the years is that manufacturers go out of business. Sometimes wick styles are discontinued and a great product I relied on is no longer available.
You will have to stay flexible and keep testing what’s available. Things change.
For my 8-ounce jelly jar candles, I use an HTP-105. This half-pint canning jar is about 2.5” in diameter. There is a taller version of this jar.
There is a pint jelly jar that is also 2.5” in diameter and takes the same HTP-105 wick. These wicks come six inches long and work well with the diameter of a jar when using a GB 464 soy wax. The height of the jar does not matter.
Testing is key! GB 464 is a very soft container of soy wax with a low melting point. A harder wax like a parasoy may need a slightly bigger wick. Fragrances respond differently as well. I have had some floral combinations that just drowned an HTP-105 and had to wick up to an HTP-125.
The type of container plays a role as well.
The wax pool you get when testing a glass container and a tin container with the same diameter is very different. A 2.5” diameter tin container may need an HTP-83 because the glass is not absorbing the heat from the flame.
For my pint jars, I use an HTP-125 even though the opening is 2.5”. The lid is the same as the jelly jar candles. The body of the jar is 3” in diameter and a smaller wick is not enough.
Often a container that is 3″ or more in diameter will need more than 1 wick. If you can’t get a good melt pool it may be that the solution is to use multiple wicks to balance the heat from the flame.
If you have an odd-shaped vessel like a star or a heart it will most likely need multiple wicks.
Over the past decades, I have seen this style decline. A zinc-cored wick is not popular now. Because of this, it is harder to find. This helps to keep a candle upright. More popular now maybe a paper core to give the wick more rigidity.
This type of candle wick is better suited for candles like gel candles. Gel candles are transparent and the appearance of a straight wick makes for a better-looking candle. The downside is that if they are coated the gel around the wick sometimes becomes slightly cloudy.
You can make your wick for gel candles using cotton cord and paper. To make the paper core, roll the paper to make a solid staw around the cotton. The wick will need to be primed. Priming the wick is done by dipping it in wax or gel to remove the air. This will allow the bubbles to be released and a more consistent burn.
Gelly Candle Accessories make good wicks for gel candles. Gel candles are not wax and have a different set of rules for wicks.
Gel wick sizes are usually one size bigger than what you would pick for a normal container using soy wax. Gel has a much higher melting point.
This is another type of wick that has become popular in the past few years. These are fun to work with and offer a different candle to your customer. They also come in a range of sizes. I have seen it most commonly in widths of 3/8”, ½”, and ¾”.
They also are a little thicker as they get wider. Again, more testing! These are popular in the fall or with higher-end tumbler-style candles. They go well with designer fragrances as a visual appeal. I think they are fitting with a woodsy theme as well.
Wooden wicks need to be soaked in oil before pouring your candles.
If you would like a natural candlewick like hemp (hard to find) or make them yourself, I have an article on Natural Candle Making
If your wick does not burn right
The correct burning of the wick depends largely on the melting point of your wax and the diameter of the candle. Container candles do not burn the same as pillar candles. The wick selection for them is different as well.
If the wick simply burns a craterlike hole or tunnels down into the candle and burns itself out the wick is too small for that type of wax and container.
If the wick smokes and a bead of carbon forms at the end of the wick it is too large.
Wick will not burn. The wick may be clogged with improper additives, too much fragrance, or improper colorants like crayons or paint.
The wick flame burns high and the melt pool is large. The wick is too big. The melt pool should be about ½’ high after a 3-hour burn at the most.
On a pillar candle, if the wax is dripping over faster than the candle burns. The wick is too small for the diameter of the candle.
The candle sputters. There are air pockets in the wick or close to the wick interfering with the flow of fuel from the wax pool. Sometimes this works its way out. This is usually the candle-making process and not the wick.