The wick is sometimes the last choice to be made when making candles. This can prove to be a mistake as the wick you use can make or break your candle.
Spending time choosing wax type, color, and scent, to then watch your beautiful candle burn too fast—or not at all—can be frustrating. We’re here to help with our complete guide to candle wick sizes.
Why It’s Important to Choose the Right Wick
Choosing the right wick size is crucial if you want to make a high-quality candle. The color, scent, and container don’t matter if the wick isn’t correctly sized because your candle simply won’t burn properly.
When deciding on your perfect wick, there are a few important targets to aim for:
- Consistent flame size
- Moderate temperature inside the container or jar
- Blooming should be at a minimal or non-existing (carbon deposits)
- A continual wax pool without dripping
- When the candle is extinguished, there should be minimal glow
Where Should You Start?
If you’re a candle-making beginner, you might be feeling slightly overwhelmed. The best place to start is figuring out which type of wick is right for your candle.
This depends on a number of things. The type of wax you’re planning to use, the amount of fragrance, the diameter of the candle, and color. To help you along, we’ve created a list of the most commonly used wicks and what wax they work best with:
Recommended Wax: Paraffin and soy
RRD wicks are round directional and have a cotton core and tension threads. These are designed for the best burn in solid-colored candles as well as votives. Because this wick can work in all sorts of wax, it’s the first choice for many candle-creators.
Photo Source: Candle Science
Recommended Wax: Soy
HTP wicks are made of cotton. They feature braided paper fibers that improve the stiffness of the material. This wick has a very soft burn, and they tend to curl a bit when they burn. HTPs are specifically made for use in containers and votives.
Photo Source: Candle Science
Recommended Wax: Vegetable, paraffin, and soy wax
LX wicks are easy to distinguish, as they have a flat braided style with a stabilizing thread. The thread creates a slight curl as it burns; it gives the candle a consistent and stable flame.
The slight curl also reduces carbon buildup, also known as mushrooming. It reduces afterglow, soot, and smoke. These are versatile and can be used in several waxes.
Photo Source: Candle Series
Recommended Wax: Soy
An ECO wick is a coreless flat braid made of cotton. It has a paper filament throughout that provides excellent rigidity and strength.
These are self-trimming and clean-burning with minimized mushrooming, smoke, and soot. ECO wicks are excellent for waxes with a lower melting point.
Photo Source: Wick Store
Recommended Wax: Beeswax
This type of wick is made of natural fibers. They give a nice curl when burning to minimize carbon buildup.
Square braid is the best wick for beeswax and was designed for this purpose. They can also be used in other waxes like paraffin and soy.
Photo Source: Lone Star Candle Supply
Recommended Wax: Soy, palm, paraffin, and soy-paraffin blends
Wooden wicks can add a lovely campfire atmosphere to a room. Some wooden wicks burn like a natural flame, crackling and all. For the best burn, choose a wick that has been treated with a clean-burning agent.
Wick sizes are dependent on more than just length. Several factors go into choosing a candle wick size for the container you’re using.
- Diameter of the candle: The most crucial factor is the diameter. Fortunately, it’s simple to figure out—the larger the diameter, the bigger the wick required.
- Type of wax: Different types of wax have various densities and melting points. This greatly influences which size is optimal. A dense wax with a high melting point requires a larger wick.
- Color and fragrance oil: The amount of color and oil used also plays a significant role. If you want to make a colorful candle with a strong scent, you’ll need a large wick.
- Intended burn time: Use a large wick for a shorter burn time, and a small wick for longer intervals. The wax has to burn outwards first, creating a burn pool, before it burns down. A bigger wick will create the pool faster, shortening the burning time.
Candle Wick Size Chart
Keep in mind that these are only estimates for LX and ECO wicks. Finding the right wick size requires some experimenting.
Wood Wick Size Chart
With wooden wicks, we highly recommend buying one size up and down from the size you need. When you have different sizes, you can test to see which wooden wick works best in the candle you’re making.
When to Consider Two Wicks
Double wicking can give a luxurious feel to your candle and the room it burns in. Here are a few reasons to double wick:
- Container is wider than 9 cm: A wider container means a bigger diameter. A single wick won’t be able to create an even pool. It’s, therefore, more efficient to use two.
- An irregular-shaped container: Using two wicks can also be useful if the container is irregular in shape. It might be oval, square, or even heart-shaped —a single wick won’t be able to reach all sides.
How to Find the Right Size for Double-Wicking
Finding the right wicks is more than simply placing two in the same container. A simple way to figure out the correct size is by dividing the candle in two. You’ll then need two wicks that can melt each part of the candle.
As an example, if you’re candle is 3.9 inches in diameter, you divide it in two. You’ll then need two wicks that can melt 1.95 inches each.
Looking at the chart, you can go with two LX 12 or ECO 4 wicks. Or, you can choose two of the smallest wooden wicks.
Tell-Tale Signs You’re Using the Wrong Wick
Using the wrong wick can end up with your candle burning too fast, or it won’t burn at all. Here are a few signs to look for to determine if your wick is too small:
- Tunneling: If the flames fail to melt the wax to the edge, it’s “tunneling.” As the candle keeps burning, it creates a tunnel of residual wax that is left on the edges. The scent of your candle might not be noticeable since the pool is smaller.
- Self-extinguishing: A wick that is too small will, most of the time, fail to burn and won’t create a melt pool.
Signs that a wick is too large:
- Mushrooming: When the wick is mushrooming, it splits as it burns. Mushrooming wicks require trimming after each use. Using a smaller wick can fix the problem.
- Excess amount of carbon and soot: This happens when the flame burns bright. The excess carbon will fall into the melt pool and create soot—this gives the candle a “dirty” look.
- Melt pool is too deep: A melt pool that is deeper than 1.5 cm is considered too deep. The burn time of your candle can be greatly affected by this.
- Excessive flickering: A wick that is too large can cause flickering of the flame. It can also cause smoke and soot to be let out.
Getting the wick size correct can make or break your candle. It takes some experimenting—but that’s all a part of the fun, right? If you’re new at candle-making, start by choosing wax, color, and fragrance, then find a suitable wick.
Use our candle wick size chart and wood wick size chart to guide you further.
Author: Jane Neu
Jane is the creator of Complete Home Spa – “It’s a good idea,” she said. But even she has been taken aback by its success. She lives with a cranky Englishman in a quiet countryside retreat. And in the past year, has become mom cat to a spunky rescue named Mina. Connect with her on Twitter @completehomespa.