Which Wick to Use in Candle Making

Candle making is a delicate art that requires precision and careful consideration of various factors. One of the most important aspects to consider is the type of wick used in the candle. The choice of wick can greatly impact both the performance and safety of the finished product. In this article, we will delve into the importance of choosing the right wick for candle making and explore various factors that must be considered when making this decision.

Selecting the appropriate wick for your candle is crucial because it directly affects how well your candle burns. The right wick ensures an even burn, preventing issues such as tunneling or excessive soot formation. It also promotes an optimal scent throw, ensuring that your candle emits fragrance consistently throughout its burn time. Furthermore, using the correct wick helps to prevent safety hazards such as flame flare-ups or overheating.

Understanding the different types of wicks available is essential in choosing the right one for your specific needs. In this article, we will explore four main types: flat wicks, square braids, round braids, and wood wicks. Each type has its own unique characteristics and suitability for different candle types and sizes. By understanding their differences, you can make an informed decision on which type would work best for your particular project.

In summary, selecting the right wick for candle making is a critical step that should not be overlooked. It significantly impacts both the performance of your candles and ensures their safety during burning.

By carefully considering factors such as candle diameter, wax type, fragrance load, and burn time, you can choose a suitable wick that enhances both functionality and aesthetics. In the following sections of this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide to help you navigate through these considerations and assist you in choosing the best wick for your unique candle-making endeavors.

Understanding the Different Types of Wicks

When it comes to candle making, choosing the right type of wick is crucial for achieving the desired burn time, flame height, and overall performance of your candles. There are several types of wicks available in the market, each offering unique characteristics and benefits. Let’s explore some of the most common types of wicks used in candle making:

  1. Flat Wick: This type of wick is flat and usually made from cotton or cotton-paper blends. It is known for its ability to provide a consistent and stable flame. Flat wicks work well for container candles and taper candles, providing an even burn and minimal mushrooming.
  2. Square Braid: Square braid wicks are versatile and suitable for various candle types. They offer excellent stability during burning and provide a steady flame with good efficiency in terms of both burn rate and heat resistance. Square braid wicks are available in different thicknesses to accommodate different candle diameters.
  3. Round Braid: Round braid wicks are commonly used in pillar candles due to their ability to provide a wide melt pool. They have a round shape that allows for more consistent burning throughout the entire diameter of the candle. Round braid wicks are best suited for larger diameter candles.
  4. Wood Wick: Wood wicks have gained popularity among candle makers for their unique crackling sound while burning, which adds an extra sensory experience to the ambiance created by the candle. These wicks are typically made from natural wood materials like cherry, cedar, or birch and come in different sizes suitable for various candle types.

When selecting a wick type, consider factors such as the intended use of your candle, the desired burn time, fragrance load, and wax type being used. Keep in mind that different combinations of factors may require different wick types to achieve optimal performance.

In the next section, we will discuss important considerations when choosing a wick such as candle diameter, wax type, fragrance load, and burn time. These factors will help you determine the right wick size for your candles and ensure successful candle making.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Wick

Candle Diameter

One of the key factors to consider when choosing a wick for your candle is the diameter of the candle itself. The size of the wick should be appropriate for the size of the container or mold that you are using.

If the wick is too small, it may not produce enough heat to melt the wax properly and create a full melt pool. On the other hand, if the wick is too large, it can lead to an excessive flame and potential safety hazards.

To determine the right wick size for your candle diameter, you can refer to wick charts provided by suppliers or conduct burn tests. These tests involve burning different sizes of wicks in identical candles and observing how they perform. It’s important to note that different types of wax may require different wick sizes for optimal performance.

Wax Type

The type of wax you are using also plays a significant role in determining the appropriate wick for your candle. Different types of waxes have different melting points and characteristics, which can affect how they burn with a particular wick.

For example, soy wax tends to have a lower melting point compared to paraffin wax. Therefore, soy wax may require a larger-sized wick or one with a thicker braid structure to ensure proper heat distribution and avoid tunneling. In contrast, paraffin wax generally requires smaller-sized wicks since it has higher heat retention properties.

Fragrance Load and Burn Time

The fragrance load in your candle refers to the proportion of fragrance oil added to the wax mixture. A higher fragrance load can impact how your candle burns and result in variations in flame height and soot production.

When selecting a wick, it is important to consider both the fragrance load and burn time you desire for your candle. A higher fragrance load usually requires larger-sized or multiple-wick options to ensure sufficient heat is produced to release the fragrance effectively. Additionally, if you aim for a longer burn time, choosing a wick that allows for slower and more controlled burning is crucial.

By taking into account these factors – candle diameter, wax type, fragrance load, and burn time – you can effectively choose the right wick that will contribute to an optimal and satisfying candle-making experience. Experimenting with different combinations and conducting burn tests will help you fine-tune your wick selection process and create candles that burn beautifully and safely.

The Effect of Wick Size on Candle Performance

The size of the wick used in candle making plays a crucial role in determining the overall performance of the candle. Choosing the right wick size is essential for achieving optimal burn characteristics, such as a clean and even burn, proper melting pool formation, and efficient fragrance release. To determine the correct wick size for your candle, there are several factors to consider.

One important factor is the diameter of your candle. The size of the wick should be proportional to the diameter of the container or pillar in which the candle will be placed. Using a wick that is too large for the candle diameter can result in excessive flame height and soot production. On the other hand, using a wick that is too small may cause poor melt pool formation and tunneling, where wax does not completely melt to the edges.

The type of wax used also influences wick selection. Different types of waxes have varying melt points and composition, which can affect how they interact with a specific wick size. Beeswax and soy wax, for example, typically require larger wicks due to their lower melting points compared to paraffin wax.

Another factor to consider when choosing a wick is the fragrance load in your candle. Fragrances can affect burning characteristics by altering wax viscosity and combustion properties. Highly fragranced candles may require larger wicks than unscented or lightly scented ones to ensure proper burn capability.

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Lastly, burn time should be taken into account when selecting a suitable wick size. A longer-burning candle typically requires a thicker or larger-sized wick to maintain an adequate flame height throughout its lifespan.

To determine the right wick size for your candle, it is recommended to conduct test burns using different sizes and closely observe their performance. Start with a smaller-sized wick and evaluate factors such as flame height, melting pool diameter, scent throw, and amount of soot produced during each burn.

If the flame height is too low, causing poor melt pool formation, or if there is excessive soot, consider trying a larger wick size. Conversely, if the flame is too high and producing excessive smoke, try using a smaller wick.

By carefully considering factors such as candle diameter, wax type, fragrance load, and burn time, and by conducting thorough burn tests to evaluate wick performance, you can determine the right wick size that will ensure optimal candle performance and a successful candle-making experience.

Exploring Various Wick Materials and Their Benefits

Cotton, hemp, and paper are three commonly used materials for candle wicks. Each material offers its own unique benefits and characteristics that can enhance the performance of your candles.

  1. Cotton Wicks: Cotton wicks are the most popular choice among candle makers due to their versatility and affordability. They come in various sizes and are suitable for different types of candles. Cotton wicks provide a consistent burn and have good saturation, which allows for an even distribution of melted wax across the flame. They also produce minimal smoke and soot, making them a cleaner option for candle making.
  2. Hemp Wicks: Hemp wicks are a more eco-friendly alternative to cotton wicks as they are made from natural organic fibers. They offer a slower burn rate compared to cotton wicks, allowing for longer-lasting candles. Hemp wicks also have good rigidity, which helps to reduce mushrooming (the build-up of carbon deposits at the tip of the wick). This results in less debris and a cleaner flame.
  3. Paper Wicks: Paper wicks are another option to consider for your candle-making needs. These wicks are typically flat or braided strips made from paper fibers that have been treated with various substances to enhance their burning properties.
    Paper wicks tend to have a slower burn rate and produce less smoke than cotton or hemp wicks. They also have good stiffness, which helps to minimize tunneling (when the inner portion of the candle burns faster than the outer portion), ensuring an even burn throughout.
Wick MaterialBenefits
CottonVersatile, affordable, consistent burn, minimal smoke/soot
HempEco-friendly, slower burn rate, reduced mushrooming
PaperSlow burn rate, less smoke, minimal tunneling

It’s important to note that the choice of wick material should also consider the specific requirements of your candle-making project, such as the type of wax used and the desired burn time. Conducting burn tests with different wick materials can help determine which one works best for your particular needs. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to consult experienced candle makers or refer to expert recommendations when selecting the appropriate wick material for your candles.

Selecting the Proper Wick for Different Candle Types

Selecting the proper wick is crucial in candle making, as different types of candles require specific wicks to ensure optimal performance. Container candles, pillar candles, and taper candles each have unique characteristics that must be considered when choosing the appropriate wick.

For container candles, which are made in jars or containers, it is important to select a wick that allows for even melting and good scent throw. Cotton wicks are commonly used for container candles due to their ability to hold up against strong fragrance oils and provide a steady burn.

When selecting a wick for container candles, the diameter of the container should also be taken into account. A wider jar may require a larger-sized wick to ensure complete wax pool formation.

Pillar candles, on the other hand, are freestanding and do not need containers. For these types of candles, square braid or flat braided wicks are typically used. These wicks have a thicker construction which helps support the weight of the wax as it burns down. The size of the pillar candle will determine the thickness and width of the wick needed for proper burning.

Taper candles present their own unique challenges when it comes to selecting the right wick. As these candles have a long and narrow shape, they require a thinner and more rigid wick that can maintain an upright position during burning. Round braided cotton or paper core wicks are commonly used for taper candles due to their stability and controlled flame height.

Troubleshooting Common Wick Issues in Candle Making

One of the most frustrating aspects of candle making is when you encounter common wick issues that can affect the overall performance and quality of your candles. Three common problems that candle makers often face are tunneling, poor scent throw, and excessive soot. Understanding these issues and knowing how to troubleshoot them can help ensure that your candles burn evenly, release a strong fragrance, and produce minimal soot.


Tunneling refers to the phenomenon where a candle burns straight down through the center, leaving a wall of wax around it. This can result in wasted wax and an uneven burn. Tunneling usually occurs when a wick is too small for the diameter of the candle or when the candle is not burned long enough during each use.

To prevent tunneling, it’s important to choose the right wick size for your candle diameter. A larger diameter generally requires a larger wick to provide enough heat to melt the wax evenly. Additionally, make sure to burn your candles long enough during each use to allow the entire surface of the candle to liquefy. This typically takes about one hour per inch of diameter.

Poor Scent Throw

Scent throw refers to how well a candle releases its fragrance into the surrounding environment when lit. Poor scent throw can be disappointing, especially if you’ve used high-quality fragrance oils in your candles.

One common reason for poor scent throw is using a wick that is too large for the diameter of the candle. A wick that is too big may consume all the fragrance oil before it has a chance to disperse into the air. Another factor could be using low-quality fragrance oils or not using enough fragrance load in your wax.

To improve scent throw, try using a smaller wick size or increasing the amount of fragrance oil used in your candles. It’s also important to use high-quality fragrance oils specifically formulated for candle making.

Excessive Soot

Excessive soot can be unsightly and can leave residue on your candles and in your living space. It is primarily caused by using a wick that is too large or by burning a candle with an unstable flame.

To reduce soot production, make sure you are using the appropriate wick size for your candle and wax type. A wick that is too large will produce more fuel than the flame can burn cleanly. Trim the wick to a proper length (about 1/4 inch) before each burn to prevent excessive soot formation. It’s also important to avoid drafts, as they can cause an unstable flame that may lead to increased soot production.

By troubleshooting these common wick issues, you can improve the overall quality of your candles and enhance the burning experience for both yourself and your customers. Remember to experiment with different wicks, follow best practices, and conduct burn tests to find the perfect combination for optimal performance.

Steps to Test and Evaluate the Performance of Different Wicks

When it comes to candle making, choosing the right wick is crucial for achieving a successful burn. Conducting burn tests and observing flame height and mushrooming can help you determine the performance of different wicks, allowing you to make an informed decision. Here are some steps to help you test and evaluate the performance of different wicks:

  1. Gather your materials: To begin conducting burn tests, make sure you have all the necessary materials on hand. This includes various wicks that you want to test, candle containers or molds, wax, fragrance oils (if desired), a heat-resistant surface to conduct the tests on, matches or a lighter, and a timer.
  2. Preparing the candles: Start by preparing your candles with different wick types that you want to test. Make sure each container or mold has its own dedicated wick. Use the same type of wax and fragrance load for consistency in your tests.
  3. Lighting the candles: Once your candles are set up with their respective wicks, light each candle at the same time using matches or a lighter. Observe this initial burn closely by noting down flame height and any signs of mushrooming.
  4. Observing flame height: Flame height is an important factor in evaluating wick performance. A flame that is too high may cause excessive soot or an uneven burn, while a flame that is too low may result in tunneling or poor scent throw. Note down the flame heights for each candle as they continue burning.
  5. Noticing mushrooming: Mushrooming refers to carbon buildup around the tip of the candlewick. This can affect how well the candle burns and affects overall performance. Watch for signs of excessive mushrooming throughout each burn test.
  6. Measuring burn time: Burn time is another aspect to consider when testing different wicks. Time how long each candle burns before it self-extinguishes. Keep in mind that the burn time will vary depending on factors such as candle diameter and wax type.
  7. Note your observations: Throughout the burn tests, carefully record your observations for each candle and wick combination. Take note of flame height, mushrooming, burn time, and any other relevant details.
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By conducting burn tests and observing flame height and mushrooming, you can gather valuable data about the performance of different wicks. This information will help you make an informed decision when choosing the right wick for your candles. Remember to always document your results, compare them side by side, and make adjustments as necessary. With thorough testing and evaluation, you’ll be able to create candles with optimal burning characteristics that will delight customers or enhance your own personal enjoyment.

Expert Tips and Recommendations for Wick Selection

When it comes to candle making, choosing the right wick is crucial for ensuring a successful and safe experience. Experienced candle makers have valuable tips and recommendations that can help you make the best decision when selecting a wick. Here are some expert tips to keep in mind:

  1. Consider the type of wax: Different waxes require different types of wicks. For example, soy wax tends to work well with cotton or paper wicks, while beeswax may require a sturdier wood or hemp wick. Experimenting with different wick materials can help you find the perfect match for your specific wax type.
  2. Take into account the size and shape of your container: The diameter of your candle container plays a significant role in determining the appropriate wick size. A larger diameter will require a larger wick to ensure proper burning and avoid tunneling. On the other hand, smaller containers may need smaller wicks to prevent excessive heat and melting.
  3. Adjust for fragrance load: If you are planning to add fragrance oils or essential oils to your candles, keep in mind that they can affect how well the wick performs. Heavier fragrances may require a larger, more robust wick to burn properly and evenly distribute the scent throughout the room.
  4. Conduct burn tests: Before committing to a specific type of wick, it’s always a good idea to conduct burn tests with various options. This involves making test candles using different wicks and evaluating their performance in terms of flame height, burn time, pooling, mushrooming (the carbon build-up at the top of the flame), and scent throw.
Wick TypeBest UseAdvantages
Cotton WickContainer and pillar candlesEasy to work with, consistent burn, minimal mushrooming
Hemp WickBeeswax candlesNatural fiber, long-lasting burn, no soot, great for outdoor use
Paper WickSoy wax candlesAbsorptive, clean-burning, suitable for fragrances with low flashpoints

By following these expert tips and recommendations, you can choose the right wick for your candle making project and achieve excellent results. Remember that experimentation and observation are key to finding the perfect combination of wick type and size for each unique candle.


In conclusion, choosing the right wick for your candle-making project is crucial for a successful and safe experience. With so many types of wicks available, it’s important to understand their differences and the factors to consider when selecting one. By taking into account factors such as candle diameter, wax type, fragrance load, and burn time, you can ensure that you choose a wick that is appropriate for your specific needs.

One of the key considerations when selecting a wick is its size. Using the correct wick size is essential for optimal candle performance. To determine the right wick size for your candle, it is recommended to conduct burn tests and observe flame height and mushrooming. This will help you find a balance between a strong enough flame to melt the wax evenly and prevent tunneling, while also avoiding excessive soot or poor scent throw.

Another important aspect to consider is the material of the wick. Cotton, hemp, and paper are common materials used in making wicks, each with its own benefits. Cotton wicks are often preferred for their clean burning properties, while hemp wicks offer a longer burn time. Paper wicks can provide rigidity and stability to pillar candles.

Finally, seeking advice from experienced candle makers can be invaluable in selecting the best wick. They have first-hand knowledge of different wick types and can provide insights based on their own experiences.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know what wick to use for my candles?

When selecting a wick for your candles, it is important to consider factors such as the type and size of your container, the type of wax you are using, and the desired burn characteristics. The best way to determine the appropriate wick size is to conduct a test burn. Begin by selecting a few different wicks that are suitable for your particular wax and container size, then label each candle with the wick used.

Light one candle at a time and observe its performance. Pay attention to how well it melts the wax pool, whether it creates any smoking or sooting, and how well it sustains a consistent flame height throughout burning. Based on these observations, you can evaluate which wick performs best and select that size for your future candle production.

What wick is best for natural wax?

Natural wax candles typically have different properties compared to other types of wax, such as paraffin or soy. For natural waxes like beeswax or palm wax, it is generally recommended to use cotton or braided wicks.

These types of wicks tend to work well with natural wax due to their ability to efficiently draw up melted wax while maintaining a stable flame height. It’s important to ensure that you choose an appropriate size for the specific container you’re using and take into consideration any additives or fragrances that may affect the burn characteristics.

Which wick to use with soy wax?

Soy wax has gained popularity in recent years as a renewable and eco-friendly alternative for candle making. When working with soy wax, it is advisable to use cotton wicks because they are known for their clean burning properties and even melt pool formation.

However, since soy wax can vary depending on its formulation and additives, it may be necessary to test different wick sizes within the cotton range (such as small, medium, or large) to find the best fit for your specific soy wax blend and container type. Bear in mind that factors like fragrance oils or dyes can influence the performance of the wick, so always be open to adjusting based on any variables that may affect your desired burn characteristics.

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