Choosing Candle Wicks

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More than just a piece of string!

There seems to be a common misconception that any wick can be used in any candle and this is the reason some candles just tunnel down the centre, overflow down the side of a pillar candle or turn the entire volume of wax to liquid in a container candle. If you make candles for your personal use then one that burns reasonably well may be acceptable but, if you intend selling candles, time spent finding the best wick will result in satisfied customers who will make further purchases.

Selecting a wick

Candle wicks are easily available to purchase from any number of individuals and businesses, but beware of sellers who do not give information on the size candles the wicks are suited to. If the wick is too small or too large the candles life will be shorter than if a correct size wick was used. 

The following points should be considered when choosing a wick:
1) Is the candle being made in a glass or tin container or will it be a moulded pillar candle?
2) What diameter will the finished candle be (edge to edge across the centre)?
3) What wax or combination of waxes will be used?

The variety of wicks available is seemingly endless, and finding the right one can be time consuming, but read any information carefully and ask the seller if you don't see answers to the questions above. Even with the best will in the world you may not find the perfect wick at the first attempt and, while all this may sound daunting, testing is time well spent if you want candles that are a pleasure to burn.

How to test a wick

Once you have chosen a wick (or wicks) it is time to begin testing. Always make test candles exactly as you will make the final candles; remember to include the dye and fragrance oil, as these can have a greater effect on the wicks than the wax itself. There is a general rule that a candle should burn for 1 hour for each 1" (2.5cm) of its diameter and when testing a wick burn the candle according to this rule. A good wick match will be one which reaches very close to the edge of your candle after the desired time. If the wax pool forms too quickly the wick is too large; if the wax pool fails to develop sufficiently then the wick is too small. For very large diameter candles consider using multiple small wicks - odd numbers look better. Do not rely on a single burn to judge whether the wick is correct, as this can give false results, and candles are best burned to the end before making a final decision..  

Candle Making Kits are a great way to begin a new hobby.
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Trouble shooting

1) A very small flame usually means the wick cannot cope with either the wax hardness (often the case with beeswax) or the fragrance oil, if used. Change to a larger wick. 

2) Black smoke is caused by incomplete combustion of fuel and is often a sign the candle is in a draught or the wick is too long. Extinguish the flame and trim the wick - it should be no more than 0.5cm and may even need to be as short as 0.25cm - and move to a draught free area before re lighting.

3) Some candle dyes may affect how a candle burns but the biggest challenge comes with fragrance oils or essential oils. Fragrance oils from different manufacturers, and even different fragrances from the same manufacturer, can greatly effect how a candle burns. Each time a change is made the wick needs to be retested.

If you are just starting out consider a Candle Making Kit. These will have the correct wick included, so you can just get on with the enjoyable part.
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