Candle Wicks - A Detailed And Informative Guide Into All Things Wicks!
Wicks, Wicks, Wicks!
Perhaps one of the most overlooked components of candles, yet one which plays a critical role and can determine the end product’s success is the humble candle wick.
Whilst they may look and appear simple – candle wicks are packed with features that deliver the smooth and consistent burn every great candle must have.
Typically, a candle wick consists of a single piece of braided cotton which is dipped, coated or treated to provide optimum performance.
There is great debate about what candle wicks actually do, how important using the right wick is and how to select the correct wick for your combination of wax, glassware and fragrance.
First, we’ll take it back to basics and have an in-depth look at what candle wicks do!
The science behind what wicks do.
In essence, candle wicks work like miniature pipes which draw the fuel (melted candle wax) up into the flame.
When the fuel (wax) meets the contact point of the flame in the presence of oxygen – it vaporizes and combusts, releasing into the atmosphere particles of the fragrance infused within the wax. The combustion also releases heat and light, which is present as the physical manifestation of the flame itself.
When it’s broken down, you can see how the bigger the wick means more fuel is drawn up through it, creating a bigger flame and a more powerful scent throw by sheer volume.
However on the other side of the coin, it also means more heat (which can cause glass overheating or even breakage) and it means the candle will run out quicker!
A wick too small and you’ll experience tunnelling or perhaps the flame will just peter out, a wick too large and you may see the wick flaring up, sooting and causing the candle to over-heat.
What are candle wicks made of?
Candle wicks are primarily made of cotton fibres braided together into a single string. The braiding of the fibres encourages a slower absorption of fuel, resulting in a calmer and more consistent flame. Fibres can also be twisted (like a birthday candle) which pumps the fuel into the flame much quicker as per a birthday candle requires.
Wicks typically come ‘pre-treated’ meaning they feature a thin but rigid layer of wax (paraffin, high melt-point soy or beeswax) or similar additives which coat the wick allowing it to stand straight, ignite easier and to support a smooth draw of fuel up through the wick by filling in any oxygen pockets caught within the braid of the fibres.
In addition to the wick treatment, wicks can be stiffened using paper, fine wire such as copper, zinc or other synthetic fibres to aid the wick in remaining straight so that the fuel can continue to pipe straight up the wick into the flame.
Did you know that up until 2003 wicks were cored with lead until this was deemed to be unsafe by a variety of healthcare organisations in the United States?
Different kinds of wicks (wood wicks).
Outside of the traditional cotton braided wick with coring or treatment, there are other ways to ignite and pipe the fuel within a candle – the most popular wick outside of cotton varieties, is the wooden wick!
Wooden wicks help produce a unique burning experience which features a calm yet unpredictable flame with a soft crackling sound reminiscent of an open fire.
Aesthetically they stand out from the crowd, generating a flame with a soft but warm glow. Wooden wicks are typically flat rectangles which can be single, double or triple ply depending on the size of the candle required to burn, the type of wax used and the fragrance inside.
New to the market are wooden wicks in the shape of crosses or circles.
Selecting the right wick for your candle
As mentioned above, it’s crucial to select and utilise the wick for your vessel, wax and fragrance combination in order for your candle to have optimum performance.
Too small and your candle will suffer tunnelling, poor scent throw and may struggle to stay alight.
Too big and your candle could experience overheating, sooting, flaring and smoking.
Luckily – we have a fantastic resource provided by Australia’s premier candle supplies wholesaler Luxury Candle Supplies.
The ‘Wicks by LCS’ range perform perfectly with our soy waxes from All Seasons Wax Company. The ‘Wicks by LCS’ range consist of a unique knitted fibre formation which delivers the rigidity, stability and performance of wire cored wicks but without the wire!
Check out the ‘Wicks by LCS’ Burn Rate Chart below which is a GREAT starting point for selecting the right wick for your candles!
You can also download the burn chart by clicking this link --> Wicks by LCS Burn Chart.
Interested in purchasing these wicks?