When it comes to getting a consistent burn from a candle, the main suspect for poor burn stability is the candle wick. After all, it is the fuel catalyst for the candle to melt.
Which candle wick is best? For longer burn candles, wooden wicks provide a consistent flame. For soft waxes, a braided cotton wick does the trick. Plus there are other eco wicks for natural types of candles.
Not only does the material matter when it comes to a candle wick. That’s right; the wrong size wick, container diameter, and wax depth can influence wax blends.
A consistent flame is your number one priority when lighting a candle, so whether you use homemade candles or a trusted brand like Yankee you will want consistency.
The type of candle wicks available on the commercial market all have different benefits and downsides to them, which is why our wick guide exists.
If you have any nagging questions as an aspiring candle maker in your own right, we will do our best to answer them for you, and make sure you know what you’re putting in your candle containers.
Natural waxes and varying fragrance loads aren’t today’s topic of discussion. Now let’s look at candle wicks and how they change the candle game.
When it comes to candle wicks, wooden wicks are becoming increasingly popular as a choice thanks to their reliable burn.
Unlike the more common and typical coreless cotton wick, a single wood wick clip can burn for longer and remain rigid inside a candle jar.
This rigid structure is a key benefit, as it means the size of wood wicks can vary. Soft wood wicks don’t need to worry as much about being too long.
Our favorite wood wicks don’t droop or sag like cotton, meaning they will always remain above the liquid wax pool threatening to drown out the flame and ruin your burn.
However, that is also a key downside when it comes to wooden wicks as well. Burning longer soft wood wicks will lead to black smoke and a foul smell.
The scent produced by wooden wicks is similar to that of a campfire. Cozy when you’re outside sure, but inside your home, it can quickly cling to surfaces.
This makes wooden wicks something of a double edged sword. They make fine candle wicks if they are paired with scented candle burns.
Not just any burn however, but something with a strong scent throw. Meaning you need often artificial scents in order to mask the smell of burning soft wood wicks.
When it comes to natural scents, and most candles in general for that matter, cotton models are the type of candle wicks preferred by most manufacturers.
Both coreless and cored cotton wicks don’t produce strong scents. This means you can pair natural scents with an all natural, organic cotton wick very easily.
While soft wood wicks allow some margin of error for larger wicks, cotton does not. If you have a larger wick made of cotton though, not all is lost.
The soft material is very easy to cut and trim with a pair of scissors, making candle maintenance less of a serious chore.
Plus, cotton designs tend to be a thinner wick than the larger wick of their wooden competitors. Still, candle wick type can be suitable depending on the candle size as well.
Flat braided wicks are the most common when it comes to cotton, and they make for some high quality wicks. However, they are less eco-conscious.
Wood is also more popular as a hobby and craft choice, with homemade wood wick candles dominating candlemaking forums and communities alongside beeswax and plant oils.
Environmentally Friendly Wicks
A number of alternative wicks also aim to be better for the planet, and ultimately more sustainable than chopping trees or shipping cotton halfway around the world.
Hemp candle wicks, for example, are entirely plant based much like wood. However, hemp grows much faster than the decades it can take for one tree to develop.
Hemp wick pre-waxed candle wicks are usually found as an alternative health remedy, as hemp has a rather unique odor to it.
While proper wick selection is important, metal wicks are another oddball when it comes to the world of candles. They’re not exactly a standard pre-waxed wick now.
Instead, they retain heat for far longer and can end up melting your candle wax much more quickly than a traditional wick.
This is because a normal wick burns slowly to the base and dies out, while a metal wick can go as long as you ask it to, and retains heat through the entire wick from start to end.
Our recomended wick for the environmentally conscious out there however has to be the ECO series of candle wicks.
Models and designs like the ECO 6 Pillars regularly and routinely chart near the top of online wick recommendation charts and for good reason.
What Happens if Your Wick is Too Short?
The inverse of a wick being too long we previously described at the start also prevents clean burns. The candle may have a much too small wick.
By cutting the wick such that less flammable material is left between both the flame as well as the wax underneath it, candles featuring shorter lives can be prolonged.
To ensure that there is sufficient wax for the fire to fully envelop every occasion you ignite your candles, it is recommended to shorten the wick right before lighting.
This is a simpler option than other lifespan extension techniques, including keeping your candle cold, which may be challenging in the heat.
A thinner wick is naturally easier to trim, while a wood wick is known to be a little harder on your kitchen scissors thanks to its reputation as a rigid wick.
However, don’t let this wick guide fool you. You still need to take great care when shortening a candle wick otherwise you can leave your candle unusable.
A trim can leave your week completely swallowed by liquid wax, which will suffocate the flame which desperately needs oxygen in order to burn properly.
If you do end up in this situation, it doesn’t matter if you use eco candle wicks, a flat cotton wick, or wood wicks. There is only one solution.
Scrape out some wax to create a pocket, adding length to your wick in the process so it can burn again.
What Happens if Your Wick is Too Long?
You need to have a wick that is the right length if you would like your flame to burn naturally. A clean candle does not possess an excessively long wick.
If you light some candles with fairly long wicks, it may be exceedingly difficult to achieve the ideal burn. This is due to the fact that they often blow up very rapidly.
Wood wick candles, that are already more difficult to ignite, can run for longer periods of time since they burn for longer, but making it difficult for you to ignite them in the beginning.
Cutting the wick could be the best course of action if you are unable to ignite it even once. If somehow the candle was already unlit for an extended length of time, the wick could also be challenging to manage.
A candle’s quality can decline significantly as it ages particularly if it is subjected to hot, drier circumstances or, in some situations, direct sunlight.
It is not advised to save a candle for subsequent use because you’ll get the greatest usage out of a candle if you burn it as quickly as possible.
Smell is one of the human senses which can flow through the whole body. I am the Founder of NeoCandle.com where we talk all about scented candles. Known as Candace the Candle Girl, I know pretty much all there is to know about scented candles. I make and sell them on Etsy and Ebay – so be sure to ask if you have any burning questions 🙂 (pun intended 😉 )