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The Delicate Dance of Candle Wick Selection

Turns out that crafting the perfect candle is both an art and a science.

From selecting the right wax to choosing fragrances that tantalise or soothe the senses, every element plays a crucial role in creating a great candle.

Today, I want to shed light on a topic that's often overlooked by those new to the craft - the intricate challenge of selecting the correct wick for your candle.

When I first started making candles I thought (naively) that candle wicks were more an aesthetic choice than anything else. However, although wick selection may seem like a minor detail, trust me, it's anything but. The wick is the unsung hero of your candle, responsible for its burn time, fragrance throw, and overall performance. And choosing the wrong wick can result in a host of problems, from uneven burning to tunneling and even safety hazards. So, let's dive into the challenges that candle makers face when navigating the labyrinth of wick choices.

Think of a wick like a straw. Some wicks draw up the molten wax more quickly than others so you need to consider the type of wax you're using. Different waxes require different wicks to burn optimally.

For example, soy wax and paraffin wax have different melt points, which means they need wicks with varying heat resistance.

Using the wrong wick can lead to excessive smoking or wick mushrooming, both of which can detract from the candle's overall quality. And for these reasons the only real way to see how your choice of ingredients interact and perform is to test, test and test again. The testing phase is, well very... testing!! It can take months to fully test a candle collection.

Candle size and the size of container is another factor that cannot be underestimated. Smaller candles need thinner wicks, while larger candles require thicker ones. It's all about finding the right balance to ensure an even, controlled burn. A wick that's too large for a small candle can cause it to burn too hot and fast, while a wick that's too small for a large candle can lead to poor fragrance release and a weak flame. When you buy candle wicks pay attention to the guidance of which wick size suits which diameter container. This will give you an idea of the size but yep you will still have to test, test and test again!

And then there's the number of wicks but I will do a separate blog about this subject :-)

The choice of fragrance oils can also complicate wick selection. For example I had tested a candle with a certain size wick and was happy that it was performing well. But then I made the same candle with a different fragrance and the candle did not burn correctly - in this case the flame was too large, so I needed to go down a wick size. Some fragrances are heavier or more viscous than others, affecting the way the wax and wick interact. Highly fragranced candles might require a larger wick to provide sufficient heat for a good scent throw, while lighter fragrances may work well with smaller wicks. Also adding colour dyes or glitter can also affect how your wick behaves.

Environmental concerns have also added a layer of complexity to wick selection. Many candle makers, including myself, now prefer cotton or wood wicks over traditional lead-core wicks due to health and environmental reasons. However, these alternatives can behave differently and may necessitate adjustments in the wick size or composition to achieve the desired results.

In conclusion, the art of candle making involves a delicate dance of wax, fragrance, and wick selection. Each element must be fully tested to create a candle that burns beautifully and fills the room with its enchanting aroma.

So, the next time you light a candle, take a moment to appreciate the thought and care that goes into selecting the perfect wick – it's a challenge that every candle maker faces, but one that ultimately leads to the creation of a truly exceptional candle.

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