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January 21, 2016

Picking the Correct Wick

January 2016
It's hard to believe we are well into 2016 – now is a great time to reflect on what worked in 2015 and what areas need improvement to make 2016 an even better year. There are many ways to make your business, hobby or craft even better this year. One of the smallest things you can do that will have the biggest impact on the growth of your candle business is to adjust the wicks you are using.

Consumers purchase candles for many different reasons; they may like the particular fragrance, color, shape/design, but, I am not sure anyone has ever indicated that they purchased a candle because of the wick. However, without the proper wick, the customer will probably not come back a second time, or recommend your candles. Using the wrong wick in your candle can cause it to smoke, tunnel, soot, or have other negative features that will turn customers off.

Picking out a fragrance can be fun and exciting; the same can be true about color, but selecting the proper wick can be time-consuming and tedious. There is not a perfect science to selecting the proper wick, but the type of wax you are using, fragrance load and type of candle you are making can help narrow down which wick will work best for you.

This article will introduce the various wicks available for different types of candles. It seems that all informative articles have to begin with some type of definition, so we figured we'd better follow that protocol.

In that spirit, Webster's Dictionary defines "wick" as: "A bundle of fibers or a loosely twisted, braided, or woven cord, tape, or tube, usually of soft spun cotton threads, that by capillary attraction draws up to be burned a steady supply of the oil in lamps or the melted tallow or wax in candles." When you apply this definition to the candle world, it actually becomes much more than that.

There are many different types of wicks, including braided (both square and flat), cored (paper, cotton, zinc), round and other specialty types. It is not surprising that selecting the proper wick for a beginner can be overwhelming.
Wicks for Containers
Many people like to make containers, so we will focus on common series of wicks that candle makers use in their containers. Keep in mind that most wicks designed for containers are limited to a maximum diameter burn of approximately four inches.
  • Cored Wicks (zinc, cotton, paper) – Cored wicks are popular because the core offers rigidity to the wick during the manufacturing process and burning cycle. These wicks have an all-natural exterior, with a core of either paper, cotton or zinc. This wick size is generally available for some of the smallest containers, up to a larger diameter of about four inches. While zinc is still used, many who like the cored wick are moving to a cotton core. 
  • RRD Series – The RRD Series wicks are round directional wicks with a cotton core and tension threads. It has been designed to help improve the burn of scented candles. This series works very well in all paraffin waxes and natural waxes.
  • HTP Series – The HTP Series wicks are designed to provide the benefits of a self-trimming posture with the rigidity found in cored wicks. These wicks have a specialty yarn fiber that is incorporated into the construction of the braid. The HTP Series works very well in all-natural wax candles.
  • ECO Series – The ECO Series wicks are specialty, flat wicks braided with interwoven paper threads. This braiding technique gives the wick an increased stability level. These wicks are good to use with paraffin wax and natural wax candles. They are rapidly becoming popular among many due to their ability to burn slightly wider diameters and to work really well in soy waxes.
View All Wick Spools
Wicks for Votives
In a votive, any of the above series will work well, in addition to the additional wick series listed below.
  • LX Series – LX wicks are flat braided with stabilizing threads. This wick offers solid wick construction from pure ring-spun cotton yarn to advanced treatment, designed to reduce afterglow.
  • TL Series – TL wicks are specialty wicks that have the proper treatment to be used with natural waxes. In addition to being an excellent choice for votives, they work very well with tea lights.
Equally important to getting optimum performance from the wick is the location of the wick. It must be centered at all times. Wicks that are not centered may lean to one side, with the potential to come in contact with the glassware. For best results in containers, secure the bottom of the wick with glue dots (GD-1) and secure the wicks on top of the containers using with Bow Tie Wick Bar (M-503) or Jar Cap (M-504).

With pillars, wick pins are definitely the best way to ensure that the wick is centered the entire length of the candle. In votives, a votive pin (M-63-P) is definitely worth using.
One final determining factor of how the wick will perform is the responsibility of the candle user. It is important that the candle user trims the wick properly during the entire burning cycle. Your instructions should make this clear. The staff at Candlewic can help you narrow down the wicks that may work, but they will have to be tested in your specific application.
Beeswax Pillar Candle

  • Wick (select based on packaging)
  • White or Yellow Beeswax
  • Polycarbonate Ball Mold

Project: Beeswax Pillar Candle
Beeswax is very different from other waxes. It is a pure, natural wax that has different traits than other waxes. It burns cleaner, and slower than other waxes, and it has a honey aroma. When using polycarb molds (and when the wax is poured at the correct temperature) mold release is not needed with 100% beeswax candles.
You may notice some wax shrinkage occurring when your beeswax cools, but following the instructions below will help you create a beautiful, clean-burning candle.
Step 1
Prepare mold leaving out the Mold Release. The mold we are using for this candle is a 3 1/4" Polycarb Ball Mold. Make sure the wick is tight inside the mold as the beeswax can cause it to move as it hardens.
Step 2
Melt the beeswax in a melt bag or double boiler to200°F (93°C). It is very important to pour the wax at the correct temperature, so please use a candle thermometer. If poured at 200° F (93°C). the candle should come out of the mold quite easily.
Step 3
If desired add dye, scent or essential oils to wax at this time.
Step 4
Pour wax into the mold in one constant motion. Fill to the top of the mold.
Step 5
Let harden about 6-8 hours or until it is cool to the touch. Puncture the wax layer at the top of the mold with a kitchen knife. Push your knife into the candle until you reach the holes inside. Then pour your wax into the holes. Pour this wax 10°F (5°C) warmer than the original pour to help it melt and attach to the original pour. You may need to complete this step more than once.
Step 6
Once the holes inside the candle have been filled and refilled until they are very small, pour the final pour on top of the candle. Make sure that you do not pour the wax higher than the original pour level. (If you overpour, it may be hard to get your candle out of the mold.)
Step 7:
Place a metal pie plate on an element at a low temperature. Place your candle in the plate for a few seconds to melt and level the bottom of the candle. Then, if you would like a very shiny finish on your candle, apply Candle Gloss Coat to the entire surface of the candle.
Please remember to burn candles a maximum of 3 hours at a time. Burning longer can cause wax to pour out the sides of your candle.
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As I have stated in my column a couple of times, wick is definitely a confusing topic, and the numbering system manufacturers offer does not help. One question that is commonly asked is:
"What do the numbers identify?"
Hi. I'm Chandler.
The answer varies depending on which series of wicks are in question. For example, the cored wicks with numbers such as 44-24-18 zinc do not mean much to the average candle manufacturer. These were developed many years ago by the wick manufacturer and refer to what type of cotton to use, how many strands and other specifications which, unfortunately, do not transfer over to actual candle making. In most instances, the larger first number signifies a larger wick, but this does not always hold true for the smaller sizes.

However, if the same question is asked of the ply wick there is some logic, in that it signifies the number of strands used. If you need a larger burn when using a 21 Ply, the next logical test wick would be the 24 Ply.
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Candlewic Company
3765 Old Easton Road | Doylestown, PA 18901 | 800-368-3352
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