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Candle wicks

For beginners and even (though they won't say it) for more advanced candlemakers, the most confusing and difficult aspect of candlemaking is the choice of the right wick!

And indeed, the good burning behaviour of your candles will depend for 90% on the correct selection of the wick you'll use: too small and the melting pool will be too narrow, the flame will bore a hole through the middle of the candle and leave most of the wax intact. The flame might even die out due to lack of oxygen or be put off by too much liquid paraffin.
Choose too thick a wick and it will produce smoke and melt the wax too quickly...



It's important to understand what happens when you light a candle. Therefore, I advice you to read the article titled How do candles work?




Without a wick, a candle would be nothing more than a block of paraffin. Scented perhaps, coloured undoubtedly, decorative possibly but still, just a block of paraffin.
To bring it to life, you'll need to give it a wick.

Nowadays, most candle wicks are made of braided cotton.


The most popular wick type is the flat braid wick.
Flat braid is mainly used with taper candles (created by dipping the wick repeatedly in liquid wax) and in pillar candles.

From the same family comes the square braid wick.
It's almost identical to the flat braid but instead of being braided to remain flat, it is given a square section so that it remains upright in the melting pool of a burning candle. Its main use is with pillar candles.

With certain types of candles, like container candles, it is essential that the wick stays consistenly upright. To this effect, we use cored wicks (the core can be made of zinc, cotton or paper), made of cotton braided around a zinc or paper "wire", called the core.
Prior to pouring the wax, these wicks must be centered and attached in the container. To make this operation easier, candlemakers attach the end of the wick to a wick tab, then glue this tab to the bottom of the container. The following type of wick uses the same principle.

A wick specially designed to be used in Votive candles. They're pre-waxed and pre-tabbed. When making votive candles, it is preferrable to use specially designed wicks. These are cored as well (zinc or cotton), wax-coated (the core is covered with a paraffin coat) and pre-tabbed so that you can use them straight away in your candles.




An important notion when wicks are discussed is their burn rate, in other words how much wax a wick can consume in a given time. The burn rate is expressed in grams per minute.
This is an interesting data because people will usually choose (and buy) the longest lasting candle. Here again, experimentation will teach you a lot. For example, the burn rate will go up or down when you use another wax formula and/or another type of wick.

To calculate the burn rate of a wick/wax combination, start by weighing your candle and write its weight down. Example: 420 grams.
Light the candle and let it burn for exactly one hour. When done, extinguish it and weigh it again, including any wax that may have dripped. Example: 250 grams.
The consumption is thus 420 - 250 = 170 grams in one hour, which means 170 / 60 / 2.83 grams per minute.
This wax/wick combination has a burn rate of 2.8
There are so many types and models of candle wicks that it can lead to confusion
There are so many types and models of candle wicks that it can lead to confusion

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