Why Do Candle Wicks Mushroom?

Updated on November 24, 2022

Table of Contents

Why Does A Candle Wick Start To Mushroom?

Candle wicks are made out of cotton, hemp, linen, polyester, rayon, silk, nylon, wool, bamboo, jute, sisal, and/or paper. Some wicks are coated with paraffin wax, beeswax, soybean oil, mineral oil, or petroleum jelly. Candles come in various sizes, shapes, and types. You'll find candles in tapers, pillars, votives, tealights, and hurricane lamps.

A candle wick is used to transport melted wax through the flame. As the wax melts, it forms a pool at the bottom of the container. The wick transports the molten wax to the top of the container where it evaporates. The wick is usually placed inside the container and held in place by a metal rod called a drip pan.

You may notice that there is a black cap at the end of the wick. This is a buildup of carbon particles forming a carbon ball. These particles form when the wick burns too fast and doesn't burn completely. The carbon particles build up until they reach the surface of the wick. At this point, the wick begins to look like a mushroom.

To prevent the formation of a wick mushroom, keep the wick burning slowly. Also, don't leave the wick unattended. If you do, try placing the wick in a glass of water to cool down. Once cooled, remove the wick from the glass and inspect it. If the wick appears normal, replace it in the candle. Otherwise, discard the wick and buy another one.

Causes Of Mushroom Wick

Causes Of Mushroom Wick

While there are several potential causes for mushroom wicks, the majority of them fall on the shoulder of the candle maker. However, there are still some things that the average candle consumer can do to help prevent mushroom wicks from ruining their candle and candle-burning experience.

Mushroom wicks are caused by several factors. Some of those include:

Burn Time

Mushroom wicks are caused by the melting point of the wax is lower than the temperature at which the flame burns. As the wax melts, it creates a pool of liquid wax that runs down the sides of the candle. Once the candle reaches its recommended burn time, the pool of melted wax becomes large enough to cause the candle to start dripping.

You'll notice that most candles recommend a minimum burn time and a maximum burn time. 

If you do not let the wax melt long enough, you won't experience any wicking issues. However, if you let the candle burn too long, you will experience wax tunneling. Wax tunneling occurs when the wax drips out of the bottom of the candle and forms a tube through the center of the candle.

Wrong Wick Type

Mushroom wicking is a common problem among candle makers. It happens when the wick burns away faster than the wax surrounding it. As the wick burns through, the melted wax flows out of the wick hole and onto the surface of the candle. This causes the candle to look unevenly lit and sometimes even to burn unevenly.

Candle Maintenance

Mushroom wicks are used in candles to provide extra surface area for burning. However, if you notice any signs of mold growth or discoloration, you should trim off the affected portion of the wick. You can either cut the wick at its base or snip it off where it meets the molten wax pool.

Trimming your wick regularly helps prevent mold growth and keeps your candle burning longer. Candles that are left unattended tend to burn down faster, so keeping an eye on your wick ensures that you'll still have plenty of light to enjoy after the candle burns through.

Type Of Wax

Candles made with soy wax tend to have a longer burn time than those made with paraffin wax. Soy wax is naturally non-toxic, biodegradable, renewable, and recyclable. It doesn't melt at high temperatures, so it won't damage your skin if you accidentally touch it.

Paraffin wax is petroleum-based and toxic. It's not biodegradable, and it melts at high temperatures. Paraffin wax is also very flammable, so it should never be used near open flames.


Mushrooming wicks are caused by using scented candles. Fragrances can cause the wick to become larger and heavier, leading to a mushrooming effect. You may not notice any problems until you start making candles.

Wrong Wick Size

Mushroom wicks are caused by using a wick that is too big for the candle. Using a larger wick that is not sized properly causes the wick to grow outwards instead of upwards. 

This buildup means you now have an oversized tall flame that produces more heat. This heat can cause damage to the container, reduce the scent throw of the candle and ruin its aesthetic appeal. Hence it is essential to have an appropriate wick length.

How To Fix Mushroom Wicks?

Here are a few ways to fix mushroom wicks:

Candle Maintenance

Mushrooming wick is caused by a carbon buildup, due to partially burnt hydrocarbon residue on the wick. You should trim the wick using a wick trimmer after every candle-burning session. If you don't trim the wick, it may cause the wick to mushroom. 

To avoid this problem, you can either trim the wick yourself or buy a candle accessory kit that comes with wick tools. Both options work well.

However, if you decide to trim the wick yourself, you'll need to keep an eye out for any partially burnt hydrocarbons that build up on the wick. Once you notice this happening, simply bend the wick over and point the tip down toward the wax pool. This helps prevent the partially burnt hydrocarbons from building on the tip of the wick.

Correct Burn Times

Mushroom wicking occurs when the wick burns down too quickly. As the wick burns down, it creates a hole at the bottom of the candle. This allows hot wax to escape through the wick and melt the surrounding wax. Once melted, the wax runs down the sides of the candle and drips onto the surface below, forming molten wax pools.

This process continues until there is no longer enough wax left to keep the wick burning. At this point, the wick stops burning and the candle goes out.

To avoid this problem, you should only burn your candles for the recommended burn times listed on the package.

For maximum burn times, look for candles that say "max session". These candles typically last between 6 hours and 12 hours.

For minimum burn times, look for those that say "min session". These candles usually last between 2 hours and 4 hours.

You can also call someone and ask them if they sell candles with specific burn times.

How To Prevent Mushroom Wicks?

How To Prevent Mushroom Wicks?

There are several ways to prevent mushrooming wicks during the candle-making process, including:

Purchase Premium Fragrance Oils

There are plenty of reasons why you should purchase premium fragrance oils as your fragrance additive instead of cheap ones. One reason is that you'll save yourself a lot of headaches later on down the road. Another reason is that you'll avoid buying products that may not work properly.

For instance, if you buy cheap fragrance oils, you run the risk of burning your wick. You can prevent this problem by using high-quality fragrance oils. These types of oils come in various sizes and strengths, so you can experiment until you find the right one for your needs.

Use The Correct Type Of Wax

There are two types of wicks: cotton and mushroom. Cotton wicks are made from natural fibers and are usually recommended for soy candles. Soy wax melts at lower temperatures than paraffin wax, making it easier to work with. However, if you prefer using paraffin wax, then you should consider using a mushroom wick instead.

Mushroom wicks are made from wood pulp and are typically recommended for beeswax candles. Beeswax burns hotter than paraffin wax and therefore requires a thicker wick. A thick wick helps prevent burning through the container and allows the fragrance to last longer.

You'll find the suggested combinations from almost every wholesale candle supplier. Just look for the words "soy" or "beeswax" next to the word "wick".

Utilize The Correct Wick Size

There are two types of candle wicks used in candles: cotton and mushroom. Cotton wicks burn slower than mushroom wicks, but they tend to last longer. You should never use a larger size wick if you add any kind of colorant or scent to your candle. Instead, you should use a smaller-sized wick.

Mushroom wicks are great for burning scented candles. However, they burn faster than cotton wicks. So, if you want to burn a scented candle for a long period, you'll want to use a cotton wick instead of a mushroom wick.

You may not realize it, but there are several sizes of wicks available. Some manufacturers sell wicks in increments of 0.5mm. Others sell wicks in increments ranging from 1mm to 5mm. Whichever size you decide to buy, make sure that it matches the diameter of your mold. Otherwise, you won't end up with a perfectly shaped candle.

Use The Recommended Percentages For Fragrance Oil Loads

You should never exceed the recommended percentages for fragrance oil loads. You may think that you'll burn less if you add more fragrance oil, but you won't. Instead, you risk breaking down the wax and causing problems.

Mushroom wicking is caused by excessive amounts of fragrance oil being added to your candle. As the wax melts, it creates a pool of liquid at the bottom of the container. Overloading your candles with fragrance oils causes the wax to melt faster, creating a pool of melted wax at the bottom of the jar. 

Overloading your candles with fragrance oil can lead to broken wick tips, burning holes in the wick, and even a fire hazard. So, keep your loadings below the recommended percentage.


In conclusion, if you have a candle wick that starts to mushroom, you should take care of it before it gets too big. Otherwise, you could end up with a fire hazard. But if you wait until it's too late, you might find yourself buying another candle.

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 ;) )

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