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Candle wicks - Cored wicks

Cored wicks, in other words wicks where a cotton outer braid surrounds an inner filament of cotton, zinc or paper, are used mainly with container and votive candles, sometimes with pillar candles as well.

The presence of a core gives cored wicks a certain amount of rigidity, needed for the wick to remain upright and not drown in the potentially large and deep melting pool developped by , like container candles. This quality is also appreciated (and searched for) when making gel candles.

Of the three mentionned materials, zinc offers the most rigidity, followed by paper and cotton.
But the three of them also produce more or less heat. Where heat is concerned, cotton produces the hottest flame, followed by paper and zinc.
Once again, you'll have to test and test again to find what kind of cored wick is most suited in your particular situation...

Because they'll often be used in container or votive candles, cored wicks can be bought pre-coated and pre-tabbed (the wick is coated with wax and attached to a small, round piece of metal called a wick tab). Of course, you can also buy cored wicks in their original form.

Manufacturers have a tendency to give cored wicks a barbarian name. But some retailers will just label them small, medium and large.

Now, for purists, let's take a look at their barbarian appellation: a votive wick can be labelled 44-28-18z. Uh?
The first number indicates the thickness of the wick: the larger the number, the larger the wick.
The second number is related to the speed at which the cotton yarns went through the braiding machine when the wick was made. The higher the number, the faster the speed, the tighter the braid. And because the braid is tighter, the wick absorption is reduced and so is wax consumption.
If the wick is pre-coated or pre-primed, there should be a third number hinting to the wax used for the coating/priming. This third number will vary depending on the previous two.
The final letter (if any) indicates the type of core used (Z for zinc, C for cotton, P for paper or H for hemp).

Besides paper, zinc and cotton, a material that was used for a long time as a wick core is lead.
Everybody knows (or should know) nowadays that lead is not exactly the most inoffensive material where our health is concerned.
Experiments have proved that using lead-cored wicks can create, in the room where the candle is burned, lead levels in excess of 2,200 micrograms per hour, five times the rate that could lead to elevated levels of lead in children.
In the United States, lead-cored wicks have been banned and are not manufactured anymore since 1998. In Europe, I'm not aware of such a ban on candle wicks containing lead but anyway, a little common sense is all that's needed to understand that using lead-cored wicks is a really bad idea! Especially when alternatives are available. A wick that contains lead will leave a grey mark on a piece of paper

A simple test will tell you if your cored wicks do contain lead: rub a piece of white paper against the wick (of course, the wick must never have been used). If it leaves a light grey mark on the paper, the wick contains lead.

More information on this topic:
The core of a cored wick can be made oz zinc, paper or cotton
The core of a cored wick can be made oz zinc, paper or cotton
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