It’s easy to get caught in the enticing varieties, colors and scents when making your own candles. However one integral aspect of creating your own candles, an aspect which often gets somewhat overlooked, is the candle wick.

In case you didn’t know, the wick of the candle is the woven or braided threads, most often cotton but the usage of hemp and wood is increasing in popularity, that holds and maintains the flame of a candle or oil lamp. Moreover most wicks in candles, especially tealights, are attached to a thin piece of metal placed at the bottom of the candle (a wick tab) in order to make them more solid and stable.

The type of candle wick is important when it comes to the manner and mechanics of the candle flame, that is to say the duration, brightness and steadiness to name a few factors.

Here below are a couple of important things to consider when choosing the wick for your own candle-making process:

  • diameter, which is responsible for the size and duration of the flame, for example a large diameter wick generally gives out a larger flame and a bigger pool of melted wax, which in turn causes the candle to burn faster.
  • stiffness, which controls how even or steady the candle flame burns, for example some candle makers include a fine wire (a core) that holds the wick in place.
  • fire-resistance, which keeps the wicks from burning themselves out. For example if you don’t use a wick that is fire-resistant, then the wick would burn itself out before the wax of the candle could be used as a fuel for maintaining the flame.
  • tethering, which often attaches to a wick tab at the bottom which in turn keeps the wick from moving around and/or float to the top of the candle.

All these above mentioned aspects of the candle wick influences the consistency, temperature, duration, size of the flame but also the melt pool and the amount of smoke generated.

Another thing to consider when making or choosing the right candle wick is non-toxicity. Certain cotton based candle wicks can contain or be covered by slightly toxic materials to make them more effective in certain regards. Choosing organic and non-toxic cotton or hemp is thus recommended to make sure that the air which you breathe in is safe and clean.

For candles made of harder wax, it is possible to include a fine and thin wire, like say a zinc or copper wire, to make the wick more rigid by making it stand straight but also for melting the max more easily by transferring heat downwards along the wick.

The different types of candle wicks

Most slow burning candle wicks today are made from braided, plaited or knitted fibres as they’ve proven to be the best when it comes to duration and consistency of the candle flame. Here below are the most common materials used for the fibres:

  • Cotton wicks, probably the oldest and the most common material for wicks which are either made entirely from cotton or have cotton cores surrounded by a different material.
  • Hemp wicks, which are extra rigid and also a tad warmer than most other candle wicks when it comes to the candle flame. Derived from the hemp plant, hemp wicks are generally coated with beeswax to make them more effective. Hemp wicks works great with most natural waxes like soy wax.
  • Wooden wicks, these burn fast and are the most rigid of all the candle wicks. Wooden wicks are quite easy to use and generally works fine with most types of wax. There are two main types of wooden wicks, hardwood and softwood. It’s the softwood wicks that give out that cozy crackle and pop here and there as the candle is burning.
  • Zinc core wicks, these do a good job of keeping the flame standing up, and are best used in tealights, container and votive candles made from paraffin and gel wax. Zinc core wicks are generally NOT recommended for natural waxes like soy and beeswax.
  • Paper core wicks, which burn slightly hotter than the zinc wicks but are a little bit less rigid. Paper core wicks are a good option for making votive, pillar and container candles as well.

Due to the dangers of lead poisoning[1], lead core wicks were banned in the US in October 2003 by the CPSC.

Recommended candle wicks

Now that you know the various functions and the importance of candle wicks alongside the different varieties of candle wicks available, here below are some of our best recommendations when it comes to buying the right candle wick.

Organic Hemp Candle Wick by 23 Bees

These organic hemp wicks by 23 Bees are among the best ones when it comes to hemp wicks. These hemp wicks have been coated with beeswax, which helps giving the candle light a warmer glow.

200ft of hemp gauge and 200 pieces of wick sustainer tabs is included in the purchase.

Cotton Candle Wick by EricX Light

These inexpensive yet high quality cotton candle wicks by EricX Light are good for those that don’t want metal wires or cores in their wick. The length of each wick measures 6 inches and the base diameter of the tab is about 12.5mm, these wicks are also pre-waxed and pre-tabbed.

Candle Making Kit by Dingpai

In case you’re lacking the equipment needed to make your own candles, this candle making kit by Dingpai has almost everything you’ll need to get started. For a mere $20 you’ll get

  • One pouring pot made of stainless steel with a capacity of 31oz or 900ml
  • Eco friendly cotton wicks. Measuring 5.1 inches in length (50 pieces)
  • 2x metal candle tins
  • 2x 3-hole candle wick holders used to center the wick in the wax and container
  • 1x spoon made of stainless steel

You can avoid excessive smoke by trimming the wick when necessary and by choosing a wick that is the right size for the chosen container. For example large wicks in smaller containers can be one of the many reasons to why there’s excessive smoke.

Conclusion

Choosing the right candle wick depends entirely upon what you what kind of candles you wish to create. Knowing a thing or two about what makes candles burn they do can optimize your candle-making process. For example as mentioned above, some types of wicks work great with certain types of wax while others not so much. Some wicks like hemp wicks burn hotter while some like zinc wicks burn a tad cooler.

Hopefully the information, suggestions and tips above has made you a bit wiser on the topic of which candle wicks to choose when making your own candles.

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