What are candle wicks? Are they all the same? Are they just string?
In this blog post, I'll look at answering these questions, and giving a bit of information about candle wicks and all the problems the wrong wick can cause.
What are candle wicks made of?
Candle wicks are formed of raw cotton and materials such as paper, linen and zinc. These are braided together. The quantity of each material and type of braiding makes all the difference and every combination impacts the burn of a candle differently.
Some wicks may have stability threads to help improve their ability to stand in the wax as the candle sets and to keep a straighter posture throughout burns. The completed braid is often chemically treated to improve performance. The wick is then coated in a simple wax. This is crucial to the burn of the candle. The wax coating a wick is typically a paraffin wax with a high melting point, creating a long-lasting and stable flame. This waxing also supports the posture of the candle, allows for better fuel delivery, and ensures constant tension in the wick. The world of wick-coating is growing, with some manufacturers exploring alternative waxes to coat the wick.
There are a variety of wick manufacturers who provide a range of wick braiding methods and materials in their offering.
Why do candle wicks have a metal tab?
The majority of container candles' wicks will sit within a metal sustainer tab. This is used to hold the wick in position and improves the safety of the candle, as well as the quality.
Do wicks come in different sizes?
In short, yes. Firstly, they come in various lengths suitable for different heights of candle such as shorter wicks for tealights (approximately 30mm) to as long as is required for large church pillar candles and prayer candles. Wicks can be trimmed to as short as is required.
Perhaps more importantly is the diameter and the yield of the wick. The "size" of wick selected is dependent on the melt-point of the wax, the fragrance quantity, and the diameter of the candle or candle vessel. Wicks are typically named in the following format, using LX16 as an example.
LX = type of wick including braiding/materials/etc.
16= wick yield.
The larger the number, the larger the wick yield. The higher the wick yield, the more powerful the flame. This means that if a candle is a particularly "tricky" combination, it might require a stronger flame a wick with a higher yield.
How do I know if my candle has the wrong wick?
Firstly, let's look at if your wick size is too small.
If the candle wick is too small, you'll find that the candle might tunnel, where the wax doesn't melt all the way to the edge of the candle. The flame and wick can literally tunnel through the wax. The scent throw when burning could be quite low, and the flame will often be small, usually below 15mm in height.
If the wick is too large, the wax melt pool (the wax that's melted) will be deep, often more than 15mm. The flame will be large and if this is larger than approximately 25mm, it can be a safety concern. The flame may flicker and be inconsistent, and the candle may release a more petroleum-type smell as the fragrance is burned away.
How do I know if my candle has the right wick?
It'll burn beautifully and smell great!