May 28, 2011

How to Make Candles – Choosing a Wick for Your Candle Making

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Carrie teaching the Candle Making Class

Image by thecameo via Flickr

When making candles, it is essential to consider what type of wick to use. The wick alone determines how well all your hard work will pay off. With the wrong wick, your candle will sputter, flicker, burn unevenly or completely go out. In addition to considering the size of the candle being made, the type of wax being used, and any additives being used, you need to figure out what type of wick to use. Then consider the diameter of the wick to get the proper burn.
There are three main types of wicks that are commonly used in candle making. The first is called a flat braided wick. Flat braid wicks are mostly used for taper (candle sticks) candles and novelty candles. They are measured by the number of strands in the wick, i.e. 12 ply, 18 ply, etc. This wick burns the hottest at the tip and causes the end to curl in on itself. That causes this wick to be self trimming, as it burns down and falls off into the candle.
Square braided wicks are most commonly used for pillars and beeswax candles, but it can be used in just about any type of candle. The measurements for this wick resemble paint brushes with #10 being the largest and 6/0 being the smallest. This is also a self trimming wick and offers optimal burning if the right diameter is used for the candle.
Cored wicks are the third type when a square braided wick has been wrapped around a core of cotton, zinc or paper to increase its stiffness. Cored wicks are ideal for votives, jars and container candles. They are weighted down by a metal wick tab to help maintain their positioning in the candle. The measurement system reminds me of fertilizers, with the most common size being 44-24-18. Just remember that the higher the number the larger the wick. These wicks do not self trim and require periodic trimming as the candle is burned.
Wood wicks have become very popular recently and are great for beeswax candles and containers. They are offered in only a few sizes measured by small, medium, large and extra large. Some manufacturers make better burning wood wicks than others and they all require a bit of experimenting to determine the proper sizing for your candle since there is little information about them currently.
Now that you have a general overview of the options of wicks for your candle making, it will simply require some testing and trial and error to find the best wick for your needs. Again, consider the type of wax and its melting point when determining what wick to use. Also the size and shape of the container is critical. Using a container that is square versus a round shape will require a different wick even if they measure the same distance in radius. The larger surface area will require a larger wick for the square as this is one of the most difficult shapes for burn evenly. I wish you good luck in your candle making adventures and happy experimenting!

We teach people how to make gorgeous candles in their homes from beginners to pros. Candle making can be easy with the right guide and tools! For more information on how to make candles strategies and tips simply visit our website at

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