Making Candle Wicks at home
Making candle wicks is easy and vital to successful candle-making at home. While most people think of a candle’s color, shape, or fragrance as its most important feature, most candle manufacturers would probably instead say that it’s the wick that makes the candle. A candle wick is a string, cord, or wooden object that holds a candle’s flame. The purpose of the wick is to deliver fuel or wax to the fire.
A candlewick works like a fuel pump, drawing the fuel (wax) to the flame. Once the liquefied fuel, generally melted candle wax, extends to the fire, it gasifies and burns. The candle wick affects how the candle burns and different wick sizes allow for different amounts of fuel to be drawn into the flame. If there is too much fuel, the flame will flare, and soot will form, and if there is too little fuel, the fire will sputter out.
Significant features of the wick include diameter, rigor, fire resistance, and tethering.
Wicks are made up of fiber bundles that have been twisted, braided, or knitted together. These fibers absorb the liquefied wax and transport it to the flame by capillary action. Large diameter wicks will cause a large fire. A larger pool of melted wax, and the candle burning faster. Some wicks may contain a stiff core. It usually made this core of lead because of concerns about lead poisoning. Lead wick cores have been banned for several years in the U.S. by CPSC. Now, zinc is a safer replacement for a stiff core. Although other core stiffeners, such as paper or synthetic fiber, can also be used.
Most candle wicks are coated with wax to provide the initial fuel source when the candle is first lit. While the wick is used up in the candle burning process, the fuel for the flame is the melted wax. As a result, in a process known as mordanting, all wicks are treated with flame-resistant solutions. Without this processing, the wick would be burned by the flames, and the flow of liquefied wax to the fire would discontinue.
Wicks are occasionally plaited flat so that as they burn, they also coil back into the flame, thus making them self-consuming. The wick is tied to a piece of metal in tea lights to prevent it from floating to the top of the molten wax and burning before it does. Candles designed to float in water have a seal on the bottom to keep the wick from wicking water and quenching the flame. In many birthday candles, the wick is a nub. It restricts how long the candle can burn.
There are over one hundred specific wicks in the marketplace today. The candle’s size, shape, the wax used, the fragrance materials used, and color all impact which wicks type is to be used. Selecting the correct wick is crucial to making a candle that burns cleanly and properly. Reputable candle manufacturers take great care in choosing a wick of the proper size, shape, and material to meet the burn requirements of a particular candle.
Types of Candle Wicks
We can divide candle wicks into four major types:
Flat Candle Wicks
These flat-plaited or knitted wicks, commonly formed from three parcels of fiber, are very uniform in their burning and coil in the flame for a self-trimming result. These are the most common wicks, and they’re used in both taper and pillar candles.
Square Candle Wicks
These braided or knitted wicks curl into the flame similarly to flat wicks but are more rounded and burlier. They’re preferred for beeswax applications because they can help prevent wick clogging, which can happen with certain pigments or fragrances. Taper and pillar applications are the most common uses for square wicks.
Cored Candle Wicks
Plaited or knitted wicks employ a core material to keep the wick upright or straight when burning. The wicks have a circular cross-section, and the use of various core materials results in a variety of stiffness effects. The most often used core materials for wicks are cotton, paper, zinc, or tin. We can find cored wicks in jar candles, pillars, votives, and devotional lights.
Special and Oil Lamp Candle Wicks
These wicks are specially designed to match the burn characteristics of specialized candle applications, such as oil lamps and insect-repelling candles.
Approximately 80% of all wicks manufactured in the United States are made of cotton or cotton-paper blends. The balances are chiefly metal and paper-cored wicks.
The metal-core wicks occasionally found in candles are zinc or tin core wicks. They’re most commonly used in votives and container candles to keep the wick upright as the surrounding wax melts. Technology and scientific analysis have repeatedly proven both zinc and tin core wicks to be safe.
How to Make Candle Wicks
In one form or another, wicks have been around for as long as there have been candles. However, the stabilizing effect of boric acid on candle wicks was discovered in the nineteenth century, and candle wicks have been made in the same manner ever since.
To make your wicks, you’ll need:
• Cotton twine/string
• A hand towel/paper towels
• Double boiler
Mix a batch of boric acid solution from 1 tablespoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of borax, and 1 cup of hot water. Cut lengths of cotton twine, and let them soak in the boric acid solution for several hours. Remove the cotton twine from the boric acid and thoroughly dry it with a towel. Next, take three pieces of cotton twine that are the same length and braid them.
Now that you have your twine braided melt, your wax is in a double boiler. Using tongs to hold one end of a length of braided cotton twine, dip the cotton twine into the wax. Remove the cotton twine from the wax, and soak it in water once it has been thoroughly saturated. Lay the twine flat on a paper towel and allow it to dry completely.
You now have primed wicks for your candle-making that you’ve made yourself. To store your completely dried wicks for future use, roll them up in newspaper and set them aside in a cool, dry place until needed.
So there you have it. Everything you needed to know about making candle wicks. You can now choose and make the perfect wick for your candle with complete confidence.