One of the most important ingredients in any candle is the wick. The wick size, material, and placement can affect how long a candle burns, how clean it burns, and how effective your hot fragrance throw will be.
How do wicks work?
Let’s start with a little science: When a wick is lit, the heat from the flame melts the surrounding wax to a liquid, which is then pulled up through the fibers of the wick, creating a fuel source for the flame. That means that the size, material, and length of a wick can all have an impact on how your candle burns and how effective your hot throw is.
Wicks come from several different sources, but the most popular you’ll see are cotton and wood.
For soy wax, we recommend cotton wicks. For one, cotton wicks burn brighter, so you get a warm, soothing glow of the candle every time you light it. Additionally, cotton wicks absorb just the right amount of melted wax for thicker types of wax, including soy.
Wood wicks are typically built for paraffin waxes, which are thinner when melted. One of the advantages of wood wicks is that they can hold a lot of fragrance and can create great fragrance throw. The tradeoff, however, is that wood wicks don’t burn with the brilliance of a cotton wick.
What’s the best way to know which wick is right for you? Practice, practice, practice. Create test batches and experiment with different wick sizes and materials to check out burn time, hot throw, and sidewall heat levels.
If you’re in your testing phase and hitting roadblocks with your wicks, here are some troubleshooting tips:
Problem: Your candle is burning too quickly
Cause: Your wick is too big. If the wick of your candle is too large, it will melt the wax and fragrance oil quicker, leading to a shorter burn time.
Problem: The side walls of your candle are getting too hot.
Cause: Your wick is too big. More fuel means a bigger flame, and a bigger flame means more heat. In general, the temperature of your vessel’s walls shouldn’t exceed 190 degrees. And soy wax, with the right wick, should be around 120 degrees. So, with the right wick, the temperature of your vessel will be safer to touch.
Problem: The flame of your candle is reaching too high.
Cause: Your wick is too long; trim your wick to about ¼ inch for each use.
Problem: I can’t smell my candle, or I can only smell my candle after I’ve blown it out.
Cause: Your wick is too big. If the wick is too big, the hot fragrance throw will act like a mushroom, rising up and out of the candle. That usually means you’ll be able to smell the fragrance in the adjacent rooms, but not in the room where you’re burning the candle. When the wick is the correct size, the hot throw gently spills out of the jar and fills the room you’re burning the candle in.
Problem: The melted area of the candle isn’t reaching all the way to the sides (aka “tunneling”)
Cause: Your wick is too small. Typically, the right wick will hit the side of your jar within 3-4 hours of your first burn, and then, since wax has memory, it will hit the side wall after 2 hours of burn time after that.