When folks first begin making candles, they are often surprised by just how many wicks there are available. This can make it a bit complicated to determine the best wick for each type of candle. However, choosing the right wick can be the ultimate difference in whether your candle is a raging success, or a not so subtle failure. Proper wicking makes all the difference when it comes to the life of the candle, how well it burns and whether or not it even stays lit.
Wicks come in one either of two options, pre-tabbed or on spools.
Pre-tabbed wicks are most often used in container candles and votives. They are stiff wicks of varying lengths with a metal base attached. The wick is connected to the tab by a longer metal piece referred to as the wick collar or neck, which also come in a variety of lengths.
The purpose of a wick tab is to stop the candle from burning once the flame on the wick reaches the metal neck of the tab. This extinguishes the flame before it can reach the bottom of the container, which can cause the container to overheat and break.
Spooled wicks are most commonly used in pillars and tapers and can be used without tabs, or tabs can be attached by hand.
Wicks are available in a variety of materials. From cotton, to hemp, to paper, to those with metal cores, each wick offers different benefits and has certain situations in which they are best used.
Each individual wax may have certain wicks it will or will not work with best. Most wax suppliers will offer this information and make suggestions for appropriate wick choices for each wax. Certain wicks may burn too hot or too cool for the type of wax you are using, so it is important to pay attention to this information if you want to make the best candle possible.
When you first begin choosing wicks, it is recommended that you spend some time researching wicks in either a book about candle making or online at one of the many candle making supply websites. Wicks come in a variety of sizes, described by a series of numbers, which can be complex to understand at the outset. Learn what these numbers mean by reading the description for each wick line you may be considering.
The diameter of your candle will help determine what size of wick you will need to use. Typically, the larger the diameter of the candle, the larger the wick size you will need.
When making container candles, you want to make sure that your wick is big enough to melt the wax of the candle completely across the top. You also want to prevent ‘tunneling’, which is when the wick burns a hole down the center of the candle leaving a tunnel of wax around the sides of a container. You also want to make sure that the wick is not too large which can cause the candle to burn faster than it should, causing excessive smoking or soot as well.
Finally, keep in mind that there is no exact science to choosing proper wicks. While manufacturers may be able to recommend certain types of wicks that will work well, you still may need to experiment to see what works best in your candles. Ultimately, you will discover the wicks you most enjoy working with and by testing different types, you will be able to learn which wicks produce your desired results.