When making long-lasting candles, most candle hobbyists focus on choosing the slowest burning candle waxes. But did you know the wick also influences how long your candle burns? But which are the best types of slow burning candle wicks to use in long-lasting candles?
Wooden wicks are the slowest burning of all the candle wicks. This is because their short, horizontal flame ensures a relatively cool, even burn.
The slowest burning candle wicks are as follows from slowest:
- Wooden wicks
- Zinc cored wicks
- CD series wicks
- Hemp wicks
The slowest burning wick does not necessarily pair well with the slowest burning candle wax. Due to the different properties of waxes, including their melt points and viscosity, different slow burning wicks are best used with certain waxes. Here is a chart I made with these ideal pairings:
|Wick Type||Position as Top|
|Wooden||1||paraffin, soy, beeswax|
|Zinc Cored||2||paraffin, gel|
|CD Series||3||soy, paraffin, softer waxes|
Used in crackle candles, wooden wicks are the slowest burning of all the wicks. Crackle candles emit a soothing sound as they burn, like a crackling fireplace. For this reason, they are especially popular in winter months and during holidays.
What are Wooden Wicks?
Wicks were always made using soft fiber until 2001, which is when wooden wicks were invented. You can make your own wooden wicks from balsa wood you buy at a hobby store, or you can purchase them online from vendors like Woodenwick.
Wooden wicks come in three basic shapes: single-ply, booster, and spiral. Normally, slow burning wicks are best paired with quicker burning waxes, but you can use wooden wicks with any type of wax. You just need to choose the optimal shape for the wax you are using.
These three shapes all work best with the following different waxes:
- Single-ply wooden wicks work best with paraffin and paraffin blends
- Booster wooden wicks work best with natural waxes that are slower burning, especially soy.
- Spiral wicks work best with harder waxes like beeswax and waxes in larger containers.
Pros of Wooden Wicks
The reason wooden wicks are so effective and slow burning is the fact they have a low horizontal flame, allowing for an evenly melting pool of wax. This helps eliminate issues that can shorten the life of candles, such as tunnelling and mushrooming.
Tunnelling occurs when the wax pool around the wick is too short in diameter, making the candle burn down in a way that leaves a tunnel in its center. Wooden wicks eliminate this because the larger horizontal element of the wick allows for more heat over a wider area, creating a larger wax pool.
On the other hand, mushrooming occurs when the wick is too big for the candle, so carbon from the overheating of the wax causes unsightly black clumps—or mushrooms—on the wick. These “mushrooms” can cause the wick to burn and smoke, which will cause the wax to melt unevenly and too quickly,
Because of their unique burning properties and their flat, horizontal surface, something which just isn’t possible with fiber wicks, wooden wicks do not experience either one of these common candle issues.
Cons of Using Wooden Wicks
There aren’t too many cons to using wooden wicks in your candles, but the process of wicking your candle will be slightly different, so there might be a bit of a learning curve.
Especially after the first time you light them, candles with wooden wicks can be more difficult to re-light. They will need a higher temperature to ignite, so you need to use a lighter, as they will be difficult to light with matches.
Another disadvantage is wooden wicks don’t stand up as well to drafts and wind, so you will have to use them in an area of your home that is not prone to drafts. Using candles with wood wicks outdoors is difficult because of the constant air flow.
Finally, wooden wicks tend to be expensive. They cost around five times as much as the more common cotton alternatives.
Ideal Uses for Wooden Wicks
If you are looking to combine longevity with great aroma, wooden wicks also enhance your candle’s scent throw. Even though they are more expensive, they are my favorite wick to use in almost any candle, and I love their soothing fireplace sound.
Zinc Cored Wicks
Cored wicks are a category of candle wick that has a solid core with cotton braided around it. Using cored wicks in general helps extend the life of the candle. Since the wick is stiffer, it stands upright, making it cooler and slower burning.
While there are many types of cored wicks all which their own distinct advantages, I am going to stick to zinc cored candles since they are the most popular and slowest burning of the cored wicks category.
What are Zinc Cored Wicks?
Zinc cored wicks are a type of braided cotton wick around a zinc core. They are the most popular wick used by candle hobbyists.
Pros of Using Zinc Cored Wicks
While wooden wicks are longer lasting, zinc cored wicks are easier to re-light and burn well even in drafty and windy areas. For this reason, they are also more suitable than wooden wicks for candles you intend to use outside.
Zinc cored candles are also less susceptible to common wick issues than most other types of wicks, though they are not totally as effective as wooden wicks are in eliminating tunnelling and mushrooming.
Cons of Using Zinc Cored Wicks
Zinc cored candles are not very suitable for use with natural waxes. Some candle makers mitigate this by using a larger sized zinc cored candles than they normally would in a candle of the same size. I have tried this, with some success, but I prefer avoiding using zinc cored wicks with soy wax and beeswax altogether.
Ideal Uses of Zinc Cored Wicks
I use zinc cored wicks in paraffin and paraffin-blend candles, especially if I intend to use them outside. They are perfect for use in votive, pillar, and container candles.
CD Series Wicks
CD series wicks are also known as Stabilo wicks. They are another type of cotton wick that works similarly to cored wicks but with a fibrous element braided in with the cotton.
What are CD Wicks?
CD wicks contain a paper filament that is interwoven with cotton to create a flat braid. Then they are coated with a natural wax for another relatively slow-burning candle wick.
Pros of CD Wicks
The best part about CD wicks is that they are considered “self-trimming.” Due to their flat design, the wick curls as it burns, which prevents mushrooming.
Note that the self-trimming properties of CD wicks—and of any purportedly self-trimming wick—doesn’t work 100% of the time, so you will still always be better off properly trimming your wicks before or after each use.
Cons of CD Wicks
CD wicks are not the best wicks when it comes to scent throw. I always have issues achieving the best out of them in this regard, although many others disagree. To mitigate scent throw issues, it helps to choose the right size wick. Candlewic has great charts to help you choose the right sized CD wicks for your candle.
Just remember when using these charts that they are meant to be a starting point. There are several different variables when it comes to choosing the correct wick size, including container size, wax type, fragrance load, and other factors. Make sure you conduct a test burn with your chosen wick size before making larger batches of candles.
Ideal Uses of CD Series Wicks
CD wicks are best used in softer, less viscous waxes like paraffin and soy wax.
Want to know what kind of objects you can put in your candles?
An emerging trend, hobbyists have started to use hemp wicks in their candles. While hemp won’t replace the use of cotton in candles any time soon, it might be worth it to try it out for yourself sometime. You can check out this great tutorial on how to make your own beeswax candle with a hemp wick.
What are Hemp Wicks?
Hemp wicks are another type of fibrous wick that uses hemp instead of cotton as its base. Hemp used in candle wicks is all natural and typically comes lightly coated with beeswax.
Pros of Using Hemp Wicks
Hemp wick enthusiasts use them mainly because they consider them healthier and cleaner burning than wicks that have metal cores and/or which are dipped in chemicals.
When used with beeswax, hemp wicks are said to create a slow-burning candle that eliminates pollutants from the air. There doesn’t seem to be any peer-reviewed, scientific studies to back that up, and evidence of these anti-polluting properties is, at best, anecdotal.
Cons of Using Hemp Wicks
The biggest con of using hemp wicks is the lack of availability and the higher price when compared to any other type of candle wick.
Another major con is they are one of the worst wicks I have seen when it comes to mushrooming, which is why I generally avoid them. Keeping them trimmed and using the right size for your candle can help mitigate this.
Hemp wicks remain generally unpopular with homemade candle makers since they can also be hard to work with and are only available in six sizes, limiting your choices when it comes to planning the diameters of your candles.
Ideal Uses of Hemp Wicks
Due to their inherent limitations, hemp wicks are best used in smaller beeswax candles. I avoid using them but, as with any type of wick, I recommend every hobbyist candle maker tries them out at least once.
1. Is it true the first burn of a candle should be for a certain length of time?
Yes! The rule is a candle’s first burn should equal one hour per inch of candle diameter, not to exceed four hours. A two-inch candle’s first burn should be two hours, no more, no less.
2. What is the proper height of a candle wick?
Best practices dictate you should trim your wick after each use. Ideally, the wick should never be shorter than 1/8 of an inch, and never any longer than 1/4 of an inch. This will also help prevent tunneling and mushrooming.
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Meet Shawn Chun: Entrepreneur and Candle Business Fan.
I’m a happy individual who happens to be an entrepreneur. I have owned several types of businesses in my life from a coffee shop to an import and export business to an online review business plus a few more and now I create online candle business resources for those interested in starting new ventures. It’s demanding work but I love it. I do it for those passionate about their business and their goals. That’s why when I meet a candle business owner at a craft fair, farmers market, retail location or anywhere else I see myself. I know how hard the struggle is to obtain and retain clients, finding good employees all while trying to stay competitive. That’s why I created Candle Business Boss: I want to help candle business owners like you build a thriving business that brings you endless joy and supports your ideal lifestyle.