Types of Candle Wicks & Related Questions
When told about candles, most people usually think of the thick block of wax that gets melted from the heat of the flame, or the pleasant scents that come with burning these candles. They usually associate these scents with calm and serenity, as well as take advantage of these scents in order to create a wonderful ambiance. However, there is an underappreciated component of candles that people do not consider that plays a huge role in the way a candle functions. The part we are talking about is none other than the candle wick!
The candle wick is that part of the candle that gets lit. It usually comes in different types, but it serves the primary purpose of being the “fuel line” of the candle where it consumes the melted wax and uses it to keep the flame going. Acting like a fuel pump, it draws up the liquefied wax up into the flame so that it can sustain the burning flame. We briefly talked about this in a previous article, but in this blog, we're going to discuss the different types of candle wicks, where these wicks are appropriate, and the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of wicks.
What Differentiates Candle Wicks From Each Other?
There are literally hundreds of different types and sizes of wicks that differ on the type of material used, the braiding style, and thickness. (This blog would be too long if we went over all the different candle wicks sizes, haha!) The type of candle, the wax that is used, the color, the size of the candle, and even the shape and fragrance of the candle impact the type of candle wick that ought to be used for the candle. Selecting the correct wick type is vital to the candle’s quality because it can have a critical impact on whether or not the candle burns cleanly or not. Candle enthusiasts should look for candle manufacturers who take great consideration in selecting these minute details (like us!) because this is what separates a reputable candle manufacturer from the mediocre ones.
Most high-quality wicks are made from plaited, knitted, or braided fibers. This is primarily because it allows for an even burn that happens slowly and consistently. On the other hand, twisted wicks are generally considered to be of lesser quality compared to braided or knitted wicks. This is due to their loose construction which consequently leads to a quicker burn because the fuel reaches the flame more quickly. This does not mean that twisted wicks are bad, however, since they also have their uses. Birthday candles use twisted wicks most often because these candles tend to be for single-use, and the twisted candle wick is a more practical option to use.
Do Wick Types Matter?
The rate of candle wax consumption is contingent on the type of wick the candle has. A tighter wick will usually lead to a slower burn because the fuel will take more time to reach the flame. Contrarily, a looser braid will affect candles in the opposite way where it will encourage a more robust burn. The wick size and diameter plays a similar role in this scenario; when a candle wick is too large it will lead to the consumption of more melted wax that the flame cannot efficiently burn. This leads to a phenomenon called mushrooming.
Mushrooming usually occurs when the ratio of the wax and wick is wrong and the flame is consuming more wax than it can burn. This leads to a buildup of carbon at the tip of the wick which will later cause an unpleasant burn with a lot of smoke and soot. If this happens, it is not the end of the world and all you have to do is to trim the carbon build-up in between burns. However, mushrooming can be an indicator of a lower-quality candle.
Different Types of Candle Wicks
- Flat Wicks – these are probably the most commonly seen variety of candle wicks in the market. These flat-plaited, or sometimes knitted, candle wick is typically made of three bundles of fiber that has been carefully braided to allow a slower burn. Flat wicks tend to be consistent in their burning and eventually tend to curl in the flame, which is beneficial because it leads to a self-trimming effect. This design is done deliberately to reduce the accumulation of carbon at the tip of the wick, also known as the aforementioned phenomenon called mushrooming.
- Square Braid Wicks – this wick is used in a lot of candles that use beeswax as its fuel. It is very commonly utilized in types of candles called tapers and pillars because they tend to burn slowly and evenly, which is helpful for taller types of candles. Similar to flat wicks, square braid wicks tend to curl in on itself to prevent accumulation of carbon at the tip of the wick. This bending also enables the wick to trim itself without needing constant maintenance. This is important because longer wicks tend to consume more fuel to feed a bigger flame. This will make you run out of your candle faster than you normally would.
- Cored Wicks – this type of wick is usually used in candles that necessitates self-supporting wicks. This candle wick is able to be kept upright because it uses a core material like cotton, paper, zinc, or even tin. Zinc and tin are usually the most rigid, followed by paper, and then cotton. Pre-waxing the wicks before the candle is constructed is also done in order to reinforce the rigidity of the candle so that it maintains its support. These wicks tend to have a round cross section and are most commonly used in container candles, votives, pillars, devotional candles, and novelty candles.
- Wooden Wicks – wooden wicks have become a hit in recent years mostly because of their uniqueness. Unlike the aforementioned wicks, wooden wicks tend to have a long cross section made up of either a single-ply or multi-layered piece of wood that tend to provide a clean burn. This type of wick does not end up mushrooming because they provide minimal soot, carbon, and debris as you burn it up. You simply need to trim off the charred portion of the wood from previous burns because this will lead to a brighter burn. Finally, this type of wick also create a soft crackling sound as you burn through it, so it can add another layer of calm and experience compared to other candles. So, if you've ever wondered why do candle wicks pop - there's your answer!
- Specialty Wicks – these kinds of wicks are those that are constructed with a specific purpose in mind. It can be in the more “primitive” side like those wicks used in oil lamps and insect-repelling candles, or it can also be used in more “advanced” applications, like the HTP wick, Performa Coreless wick, LX wicks, RRD series wicks, and CD series wicks. As we have previously said, there are arguably hundreds of different types of wicks, and this is the reason why. These specialty wicks are created for the sole purpose of being used for a specific candle and do not work as well with others.
Best Type of Candle Wicks to Use
Unless you are a candle maker, you would not necessarily need to know this information. However, if you are a candle enthusiast like us, then we think you would find this information fascinating because candle-making in itself is a form of art! Reputable candle makers will take the time to carefully curate a piece of candle that is satisfactory in all aspects, including the fragrance, color, design, type of wax, and the type of wick that is to be used.
There are different factors that come into play when choosing the right type of wick. Some of these include the type of wax or fuel the candle utilizes. Will it use paraffin, beeswax, soy wax, gel wax, or oil? The type of wick will vary because it has different absorption properties and responds differently to varying fuels. The melting point of these fuels, which may vary from 120F to 150F can also influence the type of wick that is appropriate for the candle.
Other factors include the physical size and shape of the candle, the type of candle, environmental design i.e. where the candle will be used, fragrance and essential oil blend in the wax, colorant type, colorant percentage, and other additives that might otherwise influence the way a candle performs.
Determining the type of wick must take into account all of these conditions. It is not a simple choice because different wicks respond in different ways depending on the conditions your candle met. This is why there is a multitude of candle wicks available for you to try, with each having a specific application and a specific amount of melted wax it can capably consume and burn. Anytime something is changed in the way a candle is formulated, changes must be made on the wick as well because these changes will lead to inconsistent results as well. Therefore, wicks ought to be more of a priority than how it is viewed at the moment.
Red Flags with Candle Wicks
There are some signs that you must observe to determine whether your candle uses the correct type of wick. The first thing is the already mentioned mushrooming phenomenon. If that happens, it simply means that the candle is burning way too inefficiently and the wick does not suit the fuel it consumes. Furthermore, it can also be a result of an extremely stiff core material (in the case of cored wicks), or a tight braid (in the case of flat and square wicks). Because of this structural dysfunction, a buildup of impurities can occur which will not get combusted by the flame. All of these clogged materials will then form the carbon head which we know to be the “mushroom”.
Another red flag you ought to look out for is whether your wick is severely smoking while burning. In most cases, a smoking candle is a telltale sign of an erroneous wick choice when the candle was made. When a candle wick is too large, it will tend to consume a bigger amount of melted wax as fuel which it will not be able to efficiently burn. A lot of these unburned and unused materials will later become soot or smoke.
Conclusion of Types of Candle Wicks & Related Questions
The craft and techniques of candle-making have never been better! For this reason, a lot of the candles we have nowadays are carefully created in order to suit the taste of a wide range of people, so we think you can find a candle that best suits you as well!
Candle wicks are an underrated part of the candle. In fact, we think that they are the unsung heroes in candles because they barely get any credit when candles are being talked about. It is mostly about the color, the structure of the candle, the fragrance, and the scent, as well as the container of the candle that is put in, gets all the hype. However, the candle wicks which play such a vital role in the functionality of a candle barely get any credit just because it is not as obvious as the other components. We think that it is time to celebrate the craft of candle making and highlight the role wicks play in candles. They are the lifeline of the candle, without which, a candle will not be able to function the way it does.
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