Do Wood Wicks Burn Clean? and Wood Wick FAQs

Burning a wooden wick for the first time can be a little scary. Not only is the flame distinctively broader, but the sound of the wick’s burning creates a popping and crackling sound like a fireplace. But how safe are wooden wicks—do they burn clean or fill your house with pollutants?

Wooden wicks are clean-burning and non-toxic. Here are some other frequently asked questions about wooden wicks:

  • Can You Make Wood Wicks?
  • Should You Trim Wood Wicks?
  • Are Wood Wicks Good for Soy Candles?
  • Are Wood Wicks Eco-Friendly?
  • Why Do Wood Wicks Crackle?

Wooden wicks were invented and introduced to the marketplace in 2001. Since then, candle makers have used them in crackle candles, which are named from the sound they make as they burn, like a mini fireplace you can take anywhere. 

The wooden wick of a crackle candle burns with a smoldering, low, horizontal flame. It looks, sounds, and even acts differently than a cotton wick.

Are you thinking of using wooden wicks in your candles but still have questions about their safety and reliability? Here are the answers to these frequently asked questions about wooden wicks—and more. 

Do Wooden Wicks Burn Cleanly?

Since wooden wicks are made from a different material and are newer than traditional wicks, you may be concerned about the consequences of burning them in your house. 

Wood Wicks Produce Less Soot

Do Wood Wicks Burn Clean? and Wood Wick FAQs

If you’ve ever dealt with mushrooming, the unsightly black soot that forms on cotton wicks when they aren’t properly trimmed, you know that it can create black smoke when cotton burns too quickly. The black smoke builds up on the wick as soot, causing the wick to curl into unsightly “mushrooms.”

Wooden wicks are not susceptible to this issue. So, when you re-light them, you don’t have to worry about spreading ash and soot throughout your house from burning too quickly. 

More Susceptible to Blow Out

Though this doesn’t affect their clean-burning properties, be careful about burning crackle candles outdoors or in draughty places. Wooden wick candles do not take kindly to wind currents, so keep your crackle candles indoors and away from your ventilation. 

Can You Make Your Own Wooden Wicks?

You can buy wooden wicks from anyone of many excellent online vendors like Makesy, but it isn’t difficult to make your own. 

How to Make Wooden Wicks

The ingredients for wooden wicks are simple: balsa wood and olive oil. Soak the balsa wood in the olive oil for 20 minutes until the wood is saturated with the oil. Wipe dry with a paper towel, and it is ready for use in a candle. 

Confused about where to buy balsa wood? You can find it at virtually any hobby or craft store and online at vendors, including Amazon

Don’t Forget the Base Clip

Instead of wick tabs, wood wicks require base clips to keep them upright and anchored as your candle burns. You can also purchase these metal base clips at Makesy (which was formerly known as Wooden Wick), Amazon, and other online candle suppliers. 

Should You Trim Wooden Wicks?

If you fail to trim your wood wick and leave it too long, the worst that will happen is it won’t stay lit. This is because the height of wooden wicks needs to be close enough to the wax to provide plenty of energy to keep the wick burning.

Proper Wooden Wick Length

To what length should you trim wooden wicks? Trim wood wicks to 1/8 of an inch (3-4 millimeters). You can use a wick trimmer or nail clippers to trim wooden wicks, just like regular wicks.

Remove Charred Wood

Trimming your wick to the proper length should eliminate any charred wood left over from the previous burn. Charred wood is much harder to light than un-burned wood.

Are Wooden Wicks Good for Soy Candles?

You aren’t alone if you’ve heard the rumor that wooden wicks are incompatible with candles made from soy wax. Many people have this misperception. 

The Burning Properties of Soy Wax

Soy wax burns slowly. This means it is excellent for scent throw and making long-lasting candles. Since wooden wicks tend to be thinner, they are often insufficient to keep soy wax burning, so they smolder and die out. This is where the rumor that they are not suitable for soy candles comes from.

Use the Proper Size Wick for Soy

Do Wood Wicks Burn Clean? and Wood Wick FAQs

When wood-wicking a soy wax candle, you may have to go up a size larger than you would expect. The size you use also depends on other properties of the candle, including its shape and other factors. 

The best way to figure out which wooden wick to use is with a wick calculator. But a standard wick calculator won’t work, so you’ll have to use one configured specifically for wooden wicks. This wood wick calculator is the best online calculator I have seen—it’s accurate and helps me find the best wood wick for my candle every time. 

You must register your email to get the results, but it’s well worth it since this tool will help you properly wick your crackle candle.

Are Wooden Wicks Eco-Friendly?

Hobby candle makers tend to care a lot about environmental sustainability. After all, when you burn a candle, you aren’t using electricity or polluting the environment, and what better way is there to enjoy your surroundings in a sustainable way. 

Why They’re Sustainable

Many wooden wick suppliers source their wood from mills certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This council makes sure that trees are replaced at least at the same rate they are used. 

Make sure your wooden wick supplier is FSC-certified, and you won’t be contributing to deforestation by using wooden wicks in your candles.

Sustainability of Wooden Wicks vs. Cotton Wicks

But there’s no way that wooden wicks can be even more sustainable than cotton wicks, is there?

Actually, as long as they are FSC-certified, wooden wicks are even better for the environment than cotton wicks. Growing cotton requires pesticides and plenty of water, both of which have a negative impact on the environment. It can take up to 10,000 liters of water to grow and process just one kilogram of cotton. 

In comparison, the wood used in products like wooden wick candles uses less than a third of that. 

Why Do Wooden Wicks Crackle?

Many people wonder, for something so small, how can wooden wicks produce such an intense crackling sound?

The Physics of Crackling

What causes wooden wicks to crackle? When manufacturers process wooden wicks, they dry the wood, removing as much water from it as possible. Believe it or not, when it is freshly cut, raw wood is up to 200% water.  That means there can be up to twice as much water in wood as there is dry wood substance. 

The drying process does not remove all the water from wood, leaving behind small pockets of water. This water boils and explosively transforms into steam as it burns, breaking and cracking the dry wood fibers around it. That is what is behind the crackle of wooden wicks, just as it causes the crackling that occurs when you burn wood in a fireplace. 

Crackling Can Also Be Influenced by Wax Type

Do Wood Wicks Burn Clean? and Wood Wick FAQs

What other factors influence how intensely a wood wick crackles? For one, wax type. Faster burning waxes like paraffin will burn hotter, causing more intense crackling. But, as mentioned above, you can still successfully make crackle candles with slower-burning soy wax. 

What’s Wrong with Soy Candles? Are They Bad for You?

Can You Use Wooden Wicks in Scented Candles?

Another common misconception is that you can’t use wooden wicks to make good scented candles. But, as with the soy wax myth, this is patently false. You can use wooden wicks to make candles with an even stronger scent throw than ones wicked with traditional cotton. 

Why Are Wooden Wicks Better?

Wooden wicks are better for scent throw because of their horizontal, smoldering flame. When a candle burns too hotly, the heat can dissipate the fragrance oil before it has time to combust properly. 

What Scents Pair Well with Wooden Wicks?

If you are making your own wooden wick candles, you may be wondering what scents would be ideal for pairing with them.

Personally, I prefer to use tree-scented aromas in my crackle candles. To me, this heightens the effect of the crackling fireplace sound of wooden wicked candles. Scents like fir, pine, campfire, and even maple syrup are excellent fragrance oils to add to your crackle candles. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Can you use wooden wicks in beeswax candles?

Yes, even though beeswax is a slower burning wax like soy, you can still use it to make a crackle candle as long as you use a wick that is the right size. This tutorial shows you how to make a DIY beeswax crackle candle. 

Do all wooden wicks crackle? 

Though wooden wicks are intended to make a crackling sound as they burn, sometimes they fall short of expectations. If the wicks are overly dry or you use too many additives like dye in your candles, you may find the crackle of your candles to be underwhelming

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