How to Choose Candle Wicks for Candle Making
For whatever reason, candle wicks are often the last choice or even an afterthought when it comes to candle making. I don’t know about you, but I get caught up in choosing the candle wax type, containers, scents and determining my fragrance load. The type of candle wicks I’ll use somehow always gets decided at the last minute.
Unfortunately, this can prove to be a big mistake, when you watch your beautifully made and perfectly scented candle burns too fast, funnel, or not stay lit at all!
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Why is Choosing the Right Candle Wicks So Important?
Choosing the right candle wicks is crucial if you want to avoid candle wick problems and create high-quality candles. I’ll even go so far to say, that the containers, type of wax, and scent you select won’t matter if you use the wrong candle wicks.
Like many things, I learned the importance of using the right candles wicks through trial and error. Every time I came across a candle making problem I retraced my steps and analyzed every decision in the process.
I discovered when it comes to deciding how to choose candle wicks there are a handful of important things to aim for:
- consistent flame – no self-extinguishing
- even melt pool across the diameter of the candle
- safe, moderate temperature
- smoke-free burn – no soot while burning
- long burn time – a.k.a. life of the candle
- small, safe flame
- non-toxic, clean burn
As you can see there is a lot weighing on the choice of your candle wicks. But, by keeping these factors in mind you will ensure a candle burns optimally, with a great scent throw and without unnecessary toxins. Use our guide below to help you choose the right candle wicks for all your homemade candles!
Candle Wicks: Where To Start
“How do I choose a candle wick?”, you ask, there are few things to determine before choosing your candle wick size from each candle wick size chart below. (And if you are just getting your feet wet in candle making, make sure to read our beginner candle making guide after this.)
Start here to begin choosing which type of candle wicks is right for the candles you are making:
1. The Diameter of the Candle
Let’s start with the most vital factor in choosing candle wicks – the diameter of the candle. Luckily, the first step is very easy to figure out. Either pull out a ruler and measure this or read the details for this information before ordering your candle containers.
2. Fragrance Load and Color
The second step is to consider the amount of fragrance or color you are planning to add to the candle. The more color or fragrance you include the thicker you’ll want your wick to be. Use our fragrance load calculator to help with this step!
3. Candle Wax Type
The next step involves your candle wax type. Each candle wax type has a different melting point and density. These variances influence the recommended candle wick type, as you’ll see below.
If you haven’t chosen your candle wax type yet, use our swipe file in the Simple Living Library to help you pick one. And if you are not sure how much candle wax you’ll need, check out our easy candle wax calculator.
4. Candle Burn Time
Last but not least, consider the burn time of the wax. Soy wax, for example, has a longer, slower burn time than paraffin wax so a thinner wick may be best. On the other hand, if you intend to burn the candle in short intervals like 1 to 1.5 hours versus the recommended 4 hours, a thicker wick would be advisable in order to form a melt pool quickly across the candle to avoid funneling.
If this has left you feeling overwhelmed, don’t fret – let me make it easier for you by clearly pointing out which candle wicks are best for which candle types.
Related To: DIY Crackling Wood Wick Candles
Related To: Soy Candle Making: Ultimate Guide
What are the different types of candle wicks?
There is more to candle wicks than size! And in fact, there are many types of candle wicks. Here I’ve created a list of commonly used candle wicks while pointing out which wicks are best for different types of candles. You’ll find the best wicks for beeswax candles, soy candles, and more!
ECO candle wicks are basically a coreless flat braid, interwoven with 100% organic cotton and paper fibers that provides great strength. These are self-trimming and clean-burning with minimized mushrooming and a clean burn. Excellent for waxes with a lower melting point. Each comes with wick tabs and is pre-coated in soy wax for ease of use.
- This pack of ECO wicks is best for soy pillars and tall container candles up to 7 inches in height such as mason jar candles
- Whereas this pack of ECO wicks is best for wax blends and soy containers candles with a 2 ¾” to 3 ¼” inch diameter, no longer than 5 inches tall
LX wicks have a very flat finish, although braided in natural cotton threads. They help candles have a consistent flame due to their curling ability that reduces mushrooming, afterglow, soot, and smoke. Each is coated in natural soy wax, fully biodegradable and environmentally responsible.
- Best for wax blends and soy containers candles with a 2 to 3-inch diameter, no longer than 5 inches tall
As you can likely guess from the name, hemp candle wicks are made from 100% organic hemp, biodegradable, and non-toxic. Each is dipped in natural beeswax. You can buy them pre tabbed or in a spool to make any desired candle height. The pre tabbed are the best wicks for beeswax candles I’ve used.
- These hemp wicks are best for beeswax pillars and container candles up to 7 inches in height
- Or opt for a spool of hemp wicks for any size candle
Do candle wicks need to be waxed?
Now, you may be wondering do you have to buy pre-waxed candle wicks? The short answer is no. However, a pre-waxed wick will improve the performance of the wick and is considered a superior in the candle making world, especially when it comes to a great scent throw!
And if you don’t buy cotton, paper, or hemp wick pre-waxed wicks – you’ll need to wax them yourself. I can tell you from experience, working with pre-waxed candles wicks is so much easier!!
There is nevertheless, one exception…
Wood wicks don’t need to be pre-waxed for a great burn. My favorite wood wicks are made in the U.S. from native, sappy fruit trees and sourced sustainably from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). They create a cozy campfire atmosphere, crackling, and all! Come see for yourself – watch our video of homemade wood wick candles.
- Wood wicks are best for all types of candles: soy, palm, coconut, beeswax, and blends. You can choose from 4 different sizes of wood wicks to meet all your candle making needs here.
Choosing the Right Candle Wicks:
Now that you’ve covered all the basics and determined your candle wick type the last step is to confirm your using the right candle wick size. Outside of the length of the candle wick, it’s the thickness that counts. Simply put the wider the diameter of your candle the thicker the wick you’ll need.
Candle Wick Size Chart for Soy Candles
Keep in mind that these are only our best estimates for choosing candle wicks. Finding the right wick size can require some experimenting. For centering use a centering device for best results.
Wood Wick Size Chart
For a great burn time and crackling sound layer two wood wicks together in a single wood wick clip.
Beeswax Wick Chart
It turns out candle wicks are one of the most important considerations while making beeswax candles. The particular beeswax you’re working can affect the way the wick burns, so some experimenting may be in order to find the best wicks for beeswax candles.
How do you know if you are using the wrong candle wicks?
Using the wrong candle wick can cause a host of candle problems. Here are a few signs that you’re experiencing one and tips on how to fix it:
Self-extinguishing: If a candle wick self-extinguishes and therefore fails to burn you have one of two problems happening:
- The candle wick is too thin or short – use the wick size charts above to correct this.
- The candle has too much fragrance – use a fragrance load calculator to avoid adding too much next time.
Mushrooming: When a wick is mushrooming, it splits as it burns. You can avoid this by doing two things:
- Trim wicks after use, removing excess buildup.
- Choose a thinner wick.
Excessive Flickering: A flickering wick, other than a wood wick, can cause smoke or soot. This candle wick problem is often caused by one thing:
- If the candle wick is too thick for the candle size it will cause the flame to flicker.
Tunneling: If the candle does not melt across from edge to edge a tunnel will likely occur and your scent throw will be weak. Tunnels form in candles for two reasons:
- If the candle is only lit for a short time before the melting pool can reach across the diameter of the candle a tunnel will form. Burn candles in 4-hour intervals for best results.
- The wick was too thin and did not have enough strength to create a full melting pool.
Deep Melt Pool: A melt pool that is too deep can greatly reduce the amount of burn time, meaning the life of the candle. Look out for this:
- Using a wick that is too thick for the diameter of the candle can cause a melt pool deeper than half an inch.
Pin these tips on how to choose candle wicks and don’t forget to share your candle making with us – tag #lifenreflection on Instagram.