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Types of Wicks
The two most important items in candle making are the wax and the wick. Of these, you should not be wrong. There are many types of candle wicks and this guide is about choosing the right one for your project. Usually, wicks are made of cotton and come either braided, knitted, plaited or twisted. The braided ones are more common. There are various factors that determine the type of wick you should use. But before we list the factors, let’s go over the various types of wick together.
These are flat braided wicks. They are very common and can be used with either paraffin wax (most common) or soy wax. This type of wick provides optimal burn because they curl during the burn process and undergo self-trimming. They are also suitable for use in making either container or pillar candles. Because of this versatile nature, many people will get by using this type.
These are also flat braided wicks usually made of cotton and have no core. They are different from the LX Wicks. They particularly work well with natural waxes such as soy wax or palm wax.
This is another natural type of wick that is not toxic. It is gotten from fibers of hemp leaves and is usually coated with beeswax. Apart from offering rigidity, pre-waxing with beeswax makes the wick burn cleanly and melts the candle evenly. It is also very versatile as it is suitable for use in making various types of candles. It also burns slowly, which means it lasts longer.
Cored wicks are usually braided or knitted and have an inner core in the wick. This ensures that they are rigid and provide stability while the wax is being poured in the container or mold. Common cored wicks are made of zinc, paper, cotton or tin. Zinc cored wicks are more common. Such have a kind of wire core that keeps the wick straight so it can burn well. They are very similar to and not to be confused with lead core wicks, which are banned in the USA. Paper core wicks should only be used in making large container candles. They are usually hotter than the other types when they burn and they also give off smoke.
Like the cored wicks, they are mostly braided or knitted, though the square braid wicks are more common. They are slightly bigger than the flat braid wicks. If you use beeswax, then you should work with the square braid wicks.
This type of wick is already dipped in wax (usually paraffin wax or beeswax). Because of this, they have a somewhat rigid structure. They are however only suitable for use in making small container candles.
This is a type of wick gaining popularity recently. You should only use them in making container candles. They also work well with paraffin or soy wax. Their special feature is that they make small crackle sounds of burning wood as they burn. You will find it in hardwood and softwood types. The softwood type is much better.
This list is by no means exhaustive and you will most likely find other very good wick types. Don’t be afraid to experiment with various wick types to make sure that you eventually pick the one most suitable for you.
How to Choose the Right Wick Size for Your Candles
In choosing the size of the wick, you should always make sure that your wick is the right size. That is, it should neither be too small nor too large. You will know if your wick is too small if the light suddenly goes off itself or if the wax does not melt evenly to the edge of the container. This will make the melt pool much smaller than it is supposed to be.
When the wick is too large, the flames burn too high and too wide and it produces residues. Also, the melt pool becomes deeper because the heat from the flames is too high. A large wick does not burn regularly and you will instantly know when a wick is too large. In any of these cases (too small or too large wick), you should simply use a different wick.
When to Double Wick a Candle
Sometimes, you will need to use a double wick for your candles though most people do not know when to double wick a candle. You should actually double wick your candles if the diameter of the container is more than 4”. In such cases, using a double wick will make the candle burn better. Using double wicks, in this case, is better than just using a larger wick. You should also double wick your candle if your container has an irregular shape.
Using a double wick is pretty easy. Divide the diameter of your container into two and each wick you use should be based on that size. That is, if your container is 6”, choose a wick size for a 3” container. This will ensure that each wick services both halves of the container well. Each of the wicks should be placed halfway between the center and the edge of the container. However, make sure that they are not too close to each other or too close to the edge of the container.
How to Trim Candle Wicks
Also, you will have to trim your candle wick before use. It should be trimmed to about 1/8 or 1/4 inches long. A wick that is too long produces higher flames and burns oddly. Untrimmed wicks also cause black residue to build up inside the container as they burn. Therefore, for a cleaner burn, trim your wick before use. You can use a pair of scissors to trim but using a nail clipper is easier as you’ll be able to reach inside the container better as the candle burns. Anyway, you can also get wick trimmers, a scissors-like instrument designed especially for this purpose.
Finally, keep it in mind however that there is no perfect wick type. Every wick type and size has its own purpose. As I have mentioned earlier, you may have to try out various types of wick before you find one that is suitable for you.