If you really want to be a true candle maker, then you can also make your own wicks. This is, of course, what chandlers used to do anyway.
But for lazy folk like me, you can simply buy your wicks from a store. There are benefits to buying wicks anyway:
- It’s cheap
- Good quality
- Readily available
The fact is that homemade wicks don’t compare to manufactured wicks simply because the manufacturer can wind the wick tighter than most homemakers ever could.
For the most part, there are three types of wicks used and they are:
- Flat Braided Wick
- Square Braided Wick
- Wire or Lead Core Wick
We’ll review each of these three wicks but first, let’s consider wicks in general…
Wicks – General Information:
Believe it or not, but the wick doesn’t actually create the flame you see when you light your candles! Instead, the flame you see is the vapor of the wax burning. The wick merely carries the “fire” to the vapor.
Wicks can be obtained from your candle supply store. Wicks are generally sold on bobbins or cards. Wicks come in various sizes (diameters) and you choose the size of wick you need based on the diameter of your candle.
Choosing the proper wick size is easy as wicks are organized according to the size of the candle. Let’s say for example, your candle is approximately 2 cm in diameter. In this situation, you simply look for a wick that is labelled for a 2 cm candle!
Wicks are usually made from woven cotton that have been treated with chemicals to help them burn.
Ideally, you want to insert the wick into your mould before pouring the wax. When making floating candle though, you can add the wick last.
- Generally, add the wick before adding the wax
- Choose the proper wick for the diameter of your candle
Flat Braided Wicks:
Flat braided wicks are generally used when making tapered candles. Flat braided wicks essentially look like a piece of string that an elephant has sat on. The wick is squished flat.
Flat wick candles come in sizes that indicate the number of plies of strands in the wick. The smaller the ply number, the smaller the candle it is used in.
- Use with tapered candles
Square Braided Wicks:
Square braided wicks are used when making block candles. This is a term that refers to any candle that is not tapered. A block candle can therefore be round or square. But a block candle cannot be thicker at the bottom and more narrow at the top.
- Use when making block candles
Wire Core Wicks:
I personally won’t use wire core wicks as they contain lead. When burnt, they release lead into the air. Although I have no firm facts on this, I’ve heard that the amount of lead released by this sorts of wicks is dangerously high.
For those that don’t know, these wicks have a metal wire center to help them stand more upright and to create more heat when burning larger candles.
Personally, the benefits are not worth it. If you have a large candle, you can always use more than 1 wick in your candle.
- I personally will not use wire core wicks
Priming The Wick:
It’s a good idea to prime the wick before using it. But what exactly is this and why would you do this?
Priming the wick simply means you dip the wick in melted wax until it is completely coated. Then remove the wick from the wax and let wax harden. Once the wax has hardened, dip the wick back into the melted wax one more time. Then let the wax harden and then store the wick until you need it.
The reason why you prime your wicks is because it helps ensure your wicks will light more easily. Also, it is said that a primed wick will burn more reliably. Furthermore, wicks are primed to prevent water or moisture from being absorbed by the wick… remember, wicks are made of cotton and cotton absorbs water.
Primed wicks are also stiffer than unprimed wicks. This helps them stand more rigidly. Since one reason why people use wire core wicks is because the wick is stiffer and more able to stand upright, using a primed wick helps add some of this quality to the wick without needing to use a wire core wick.
Priming your wicks is a good habit to get into. Unless otherwise noted, all candles are using primed wicks.
- Primed wicks will light more easily
- Primed wicks will burn more reliably
- Primed wicks prevent the wick from absorbing moisture