Candlewicks are one of the most important parts of a candle if its too small you will get a terrible scent throw and if its too big it will constantly be mushrooming and evaporate all of your fragrance oils from the wax.
A lot of consideration goes into choosing the right wick for a candle and sometimes it also takes some testing. Let’s take a look at how you can make your own candle wicks.
How to make a candle wick? Cut your wick material to the desired length, soak your wick material in a solution of salt and boric acid for 24 hours, dry it thoroughly, dip it in molten wax, let it dry, dip it in molten wax again, insert your wicks into the wick tabs and then crimp with a pair of pliers.
Candlewicks can be made from a variety of cotton threads, strings, and braids. You can use other materials as well, such as wood and hemp.
Getting Started With Making Wicks
Identify The Type Of Wick You Need
Let’s take a look at how you determine what type of wick you need.
What type of candle wick do I need? Wicks are made with the use of various materials and are manufactured with a myriad of different components that serve specific purposes. Some of these wick types include cotton, wood, paper core, and braided wicks.
Commonly Used Types Of Candle Wicks
Cored Wick – For candles that require self-supporting wicks. It should be pre-waxed to enhance rigidity and is usually made out of Zinc (the stiffest), paper, or cotton. Examples of candles that support this type of wick are pillars, votives, and containers.
Flat Braided Wick –It’s made of 3 braided bundles of threads that lie flat. It bends slightly upon burning, which allows for a uniform burn with less mushrooming or carbon residue on the tip. It’s particularly employed in molded, free-standing candles such as tapers and pillars.
Square Braided Wick – This one is thicker than the flat braided wick and is specially designed for beeswax candles. It also curls upon burning.
LX Wick – This one is a coreless solid flat braided wick made with stabilizing threads, specifically from pure ring spun cotton yard. It fits perfectly for paraffin wax candles and is devised to improve the burning of scented and/or dyed containers, pillars, and votives, while also reducing soot and smoke production.
Wedo ECO Wick – This one is made for vegetable and paraffin wax candles primarily. Eco is a flat, coreless wick made out of pure cotton with interlaced thin paper threads to provide stability to the burn. It’s also ideal for highly perfumed and dyed wax.
Identify The Size Of Wick You Need
What candle wick size do I need? A good-sized wick does not produce tunneling or excess carbon. There is no cookie-cutter size, as it depends heavily on the measurements of the candle and container. Wick size is determined by the diameter of the candle.
Problems That Occur With The Wrong Wick Size
Tunneling: When the wick is too small, the flame does not reach the outer wax, and the melt pool forms at a shortened radius, causing the candle to consume at the center and waste all the surrounding wax.
Excess carbon and mushrooming: If the wick is too large, it will produce too much carbon that eventually builds up into the wick and melt pool and causes the candle to burn down quicker over time, while at the same time losing its scent. Much of the wick is also wasted since you need to trim it every time it’s mushroomed.
Material Used To Make Candle Wicks
What can be used as a candle wick?
- Cotton: The most common material, basically used for any candle type.
- Paper: It’s regularly used for decorative candles. It burns hotter than most materials and can produce larger melt pools.
- Wood: It’s a relatively recent trend to use wood as wick cores, though its usage is mostly limited to medium and large container candles since it’s very easy to be extinguished by a wind draft. It also produces a soft crackling sound, which is what makes it attractive.
Priming Candle Wicks
Why do candle wicks have wax on them? Wicks are usually coated in a very thin layer of wax, allowing them to burn without being consumed too fast. Meanwhile, the wax provides the wick with the necessary rigidity for easier ignition and smoother fuel draw.
However, too much wax buildup will block the necessary oxygen for burning. Wax may accumulate in the wick due to mushrooming.
Should you dip candle wick in wax? You should dip your wicks in candle wax to prime them. When you prime a wick you are coating it with wax from top to bottom. This is important for candle wicks because the wax is what fuels the flame, the wick only maintains the transfer of wax. Without the wax, the flame will burn up the wick.
Priming the candle wick makes fuel immediately available for the flame when you light the candle.
How to dip candle wicks in wax? Prepare and melt the high-temperature wax of choice and then dip your candle wicks into it for several seconds, giving them time to absorb as much wax as possible. Then remove the wicks, let them dry and you will be ready to add wick tabs.
Making A Candle Wick – Step By Step
We are going to go through each step in the process and take an in-depth look at how to make a candlewick.
Things you need to make a candle wick
- Cotton String
- Two Tablespoons Salt
- Four Tablespoons Boric Acid
- 1.5 Cups Warm Water
- Melting Wax
- Wick Tabs
1. Choose The Wick Material
First, you need to choose the material for your wick. Cotton and hemp are both excellent choices. Some wicks are made of wood, but the vast majority of homemade wicks are made from 100% cotton string or yarn. See my choice here.
2. Size The Wick
You need to size the thickness of the wick to match the size and type of the candle you are making. One single strand may be big enough for a small candle, but as the size of the candle increases, you will need to add more strands of cotton. You do this by braiding them together.
3. Cut It To Length
Now that you have the strands braided together you need to cut them to the length required for your candle. Maybe sure you make it a little longer than needed so it will reach your wick holder bar, you can trim off the excess after the candle is made. See my choice here.
4. Soak The Wick
Combine two tablespoons salt, four tablespoons boric acid and 1.5 cups of warm water and mix well. Then soak your wick for at least 24 hours. This will strengthen the wick and help it burn steady. If you do not soak your wick in this solution then it will burn too quickly and have an irregular flame that can lead to holes and wax tunneling.
5. Dry The Wick
Straighten the wick out and dry it thoroughly.
6. Coat The Wick In Wax
Coat the wick in hot molten wax allowing it to soak up as much wax as possible. Dip it in straight by the tip and hold it for several seconds allowing it to soak completely. See my choice here.
7. Dry The Wick
Let the wick sit straight while drying completely.
8. Coat The Wick In Wax Again
Dip the wick in the hot molten wax again quickly and remove it. This will increase the size of the wax casing around the wick increasing its rigidity and help it stay straight whenever you go to pour your candle.
9. Place The Wick In A Tab
Lay the wick tab down on your table and slide in the wick, once the wick is in crimp the standpipe with a pair of needle-nose pliers. Take care that the wick is pinched in the pipe and doesn’t get forced out when crimping.
Your wick is now finished and ready to be put in to your candle container with a wick sticker or hot glue, whichever you prefer.
Making A Wooden Candle Wick – Step By Step
Now we will take a look at the step by step process involved in making a wood candle wick. These wicks can be made from a variety of wood but the most common type is balsa wood.
How to make a wooden candle wick
- Thin Wood Strips
- Olive Oil
- Wooden Wick Tabs
- Melting Wax
1. Choose Wood For The Wick
The first step in making a wooden candle wick is choosing the type of wood to be used. As I said above, the most common type of wood is balsa wood but you can use a variety of wood for this. Some people choose to use thin wooden strips from craft stores and some even use up-cycled popsicle sticks. See my choice here.
As long as you think it is thick enough for the candle you are making and it is free of any chemicals or paint then it should be fine.
2. Cut The Wick To Length
You want to trim the wooden wick to fit your container if you want to leave extra to stabilize the wick with a wick bar that is up to you. However, I have found most wooden wicks are stable enough without adding anything extra. See my choice here.
3. Soak In Olive Oil
Pour about 3/8 of an inch of olive oil into a shallow dish. The olive oil does not have to be an expensive brand, anything should do. Press the wooden wicks down into the olive oil so that they can soak it in on each side. See my choice here.
Leave them in for about 20 minutes and then remove them and wipe them down with paper towels so that they are no longer dripping olive oil.
4. Coat The Wick In Wax
Dip the wooden wicks into molten wax and coat them as best you can, leave them in the wax for several seconds to ensure the best coating.
Some people say this step is not necessary and perhaps it is not. However, it is part of my routine and I am not going to change it now.
5. Place In Wooden Wick Tab
Press the wooden wick down into the wooden wick tab. Now your homemade wood wick is ready to be used in a candle. See my choice here.
Secure the tab into whatever container you will be using with a wick sticker or a hot-glue gun and you will be ready to go.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now let’s take a look at some of the frequently asked questions when it comes to making homemade wicks and wooden wicks.
Cotton threads, yarn, butchers twine, and hemp twine can all be used as candle wicks just to name a few.
Yes, you can absolutely use hemp twine as a candle wick. Hemp actually burns a little hotter than a cotton wick and they have added rigidity.
You can use coconut oil and avocado oil in place of olive oil. They will both work fine!
A candle wick should be trimmed to about 1/4 of an inch.
A wooden candle wick should be trimmed to 1/8 to 3/16 of an inch. You want wooden wicks to be slightly closer to the surface of the candle than normal wicks because wax has a more difficult time traveling up a wooden wick than a cotton one.
In conclusion, there are many possibilities when it comes to making your own candle wicks and you can choose from a variety of materials. However, this is more for the hobbyist than the business owner.
There are too many variables when it comes to making wicks and sizing them correctly that can really hurt you when selling candles. While making your own wicks and experimenting with materials and types of wood is fun and interesting it is not a cost-effective way to run your business.
Even if you’ve spent a lot of time getting your wick formula perfect that might be time that would have been better spent on other aspects of the business.
Personally, if I was going to start making all my own wicks for candles I was going to sell commercially I think I would go with large candles using either hemp twine candles or wooden wick candles.