If the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, then the wick is the powerhouse of the candle. Candle wicks are on average made out of braided cotton. But, higher quality wicks are made from braided, plaited (another way to braid), or knit fibers.
They are formed this way to help encourage a slow and consistent burn for the flame. Twisted wicks are found to be of lower quality than those of braided or knitted wicks.
Twisted wicks burn at a more rapid speed because they quickly lose their construction when lit, and the fuel (wax) is able to reach the flame quickly. Commonly, birthday candles are made from twisted wicks for that reason.
Wicks can also be braided so that they lay flat. This is so that as the candle burns the flat wick will curl back into the flame,and this in turn makes it self consuming.
Here’s a candle wick fun fact: Bwflre these types of wicks were made (the flat wicks), special scissors had to be used in order to trim the excess wicks without extinguishing the flame.
What can be used as a wick?
If you find yourself in a pinch you may have objects around your home that could substitute as a wick. These items include: Yarn, Cotton, Twine, or String.
Other odds and ends that you may also use can be: toothpicks, chopstick (for a longer burn), paper products like cardstock, construction paper, copy paper, toilet paper or even paper towels.
If you are still out of options you can use a string from a mop, (bonus points because it’s already braided!) , or fabric from a shirt.
But, using fabric from a shirt is the least likely of all options to give you a lasting burn as cotton (and other blends of fibers) from shirts and cotton wicks are different forms of cotton.
If you’re panicking over a broken wick, or you have a candle that for some reason doesn’t have one, don’t panic!
You won’t miss it’s scent, because there is actually an easy foolproof way to make your own.
Don’t sweat it, you’ll have your candle lit in a matter of minutes and you can go back to meditating with that bowl of ice cream. (Yum!)
- Get your supplies ready! You will need scissors, wax, cotton string, or any other material but in “string” version, and pliers.
- Now you are going to want to cut your string to the correct size. Then melt the wax you have previously collected, and dip the string in it. You want to make sure that the string is completely covered.
- Take your pliers and pull the wax coated string out.
- Voilà! Once the string completely hardens you may then use it in your candle.
Another way to make a homemade wick is to follow the steps as listed:
- You need to get a solution of borax (15ml), and salt (45ml), in 250 (ml) of water. The water should almost be boiling.
- Dip a cotton braid into the mixture, leave it in the solution for up to 24hrs.
- Take the rope out and let it dry for 1-2 days.
****At this point your candle wick should be ready, if you need help stiffening your wick, please see the instructions below.***
- You should melt a candle, and dip your rope into the wax.
- Make sure the entire rope is coated in the wax.
- Let the candle and wick dry. If you are still not satisfied with your candle wick you mayrepeat this process another one or two times.
- Melt away, add your wick and light your candle!
Why does a candle need a wick?
As previously mentioned a candle needs a wick to burn. The wax on your candle wick acts as the fuel to the flame. In reference from a popular candle making website, the wick draws up the melted wax to the flame, so that it can burn.
But one size does not fit all when it concerns candle wicks. If you have a surplus of fuel your flame will burn too quickly. This will cause your candle wick to flare and this results in soot, which no one wants.
It’s messy, and it stains. But on the other hand, if you have too little fuel your flame will unfortunately sputter and die out.
If you have a candle from a reputable retailer, they should have already taken into consideration the type of wick needed for their candle.
They should design their wicks to be of proper size, correct material, and have the ideal shape needed to burn the candle effectively. In most cases wicks can be categorized into the following groups:
- Square wicks: These wicks are braided or knitted and can curl into the flame. But, they are a bit more round than flat wicks (more on those below). These types of wicks are best for beeswax, and can help stop the clogging of wicks.
- Flat wicks: These wicks are usually a mix between three bundles of fiber, and are very consistent for their burning and ability to curl into the flame, making them self consuming.
- Cored wicks: These wicks are braided or knit using a core material to keep the wick straight and upright. These wicks have round cross sections and to get the desired stiffness they use a variety of materials, and have a round core section. These wicks are most commonly found in jar candles, votives, and pillars.
- Wooden Wicks: Wooden wicks are having a moment right now in the candle world. They are favored for their pleasing aesthetic and the crackling sound they make as they burn. You can purchase them as single-ply, multi-layered, and they can even be curved or decoratively shaped. They generally are made from 100% wood, but can be a mixture of fibrous material, semi-wood, or a cotton and wood mashup.
- Specialty: These wicks are used by the manufacturers for specific candles. Examples would include oil lamps or insect repellent candles.
But, wicks can also be influenced by other factors including:
- Large diameter: When a wicks diameter is larger, you in return get a larger flame and abigger pool of wax.
- Tealight candle: These adorable little candles have their wicks tethered to a piece ofmetal at the bottom to stop it from floating to the top and burning before the wax does.
- Floating candles: Not only does the wick require a tether, the candle must be waterproof on the bottom to prevent the wick “wicking up”, or having water flood the wick, which would lead to it being extinguished.
- Birthday candles: As previously mentioned, birthday candle wicks are generally twisted. Another common design is for the wick to be a stub, and this gives a limit on how long it can burn.