Monday, May 14, 2012

Wicks. Wicks. Wicks.

With wicks on sale this month I started thinking about how many questions I get every week with regards to wicks, wick size, testing wicks etc.. This month I decided to change my blog a bit to explain and also show you what a candle that burns correctly should look like and act like both.

How do I know what kind of wick to use in my candle? Wicking is tricky. In fact probably the most difficult part of making any candle. My rule of thumb is to wick first according to manufacturers recommendations but then also based on my own physical testing. I have tested at some point every wax we sell and every type of wick, although not all of them together.

In my experience candles that are made from a base of paraffin wax; Straight Paraffin, Blended Paraffin and Single/Reduced Pour Paraffin waxes tend to do the best in "most" cases with zinc core wicks. What does that mean? Well, for Pillar or Taper style candles, made from paraffin, a zinc wick isn't my first wick choice. I find Flat Braid Cotton or Square Braid Cotton wicks tend to work better for those types of candles. For a Tea Light candle, my preference is also for a cotton wick. In this case, a coreless braid but one already tabbed. For most paraffin containers, I prefer zinc core wicks. I find that they burn slower and because paraffin wax burns out, then down...this works best. On that note, many people don't like zinc core wicks personally (and that is OK! This is what trial and error testing is all about folks!) and use LX, HTP, CD etc. in their containers or votive candles. As long as it burns correctly and safely it's the right wick for you!

Soy Candles are a completely different animal versus those made from traditional Paraffin. Wicking a Pure Soy Wax, a Blended All-Vegetable Soy Base Wax or a Paraffin & Soy Blend, you will need to wick according to the soy in the wax. Soy is a lot more viscous and creates a more difficult burn situation than say a straight paraffin wax. Soy instead of burning out then down like paraffin also burns down before spreading out. If your wicks are not hot enough, the wick can not handle the down before out. For any wax with soy, zinc wicks are not recommended. Zinc can tend to fizzle out and stop burning out of nowhere, even if they had previously worked in the same combination for years. For any container (or tea light and or votive) candle with soy, my first choice is the CD series followed by the following in no particular order: HTP, ECO, LX, RRD, Performa, Paper Core.Wicking Pillar Soy is a bit tricky but I have found the Square and Flat Braid Cotton work well for me!

With ANY candle and ANY wick and ANY wax (yes, I meant business there!) you have to keep your wicks trimmed, burn for the proper amount of time for your container and be sure to TEST, TEST & TEST! The ideal burn for any jar candle is after 4 hours your melt should be between 1/4" and 1/2" deep against the glass (this may take a few burn cycles to get to, but as long as you see it by the third burn and the first two are VERY close, you should be good). If you are following this guideline and trimming your wicks before each burn (1/8" for soy and 1/4" for paraffin) you should also have very minimal soot and smoke, even near the end of the burn! Remember it IS all about the wicks. Wicks make the candle burn either correctly or incorrectly. The wicks create the melt pool which is where scent comes from. The wicks are what will either make a safe or unsafe candle while burning.

Bitter Creek Candle Supply offers one of the largest selections of wicks in the industry! Have a question about a wick? Can't decide which wick will be best for you? Need help selecting a wick? We offer FREE Technical Support to all our customers! Online help is available 9am to 5pm Central Time Monday through Friday. Click here for information on how to contact Tech Support by phone, e-mail or through our Live Online Chat Application! Real candlemaking advice from a working chandler with over a decade of experience in the business!

*We can only offer recommendations as to wick sizes and applications, but we cannot guarantee any certain wick to work in a certain application because of too many variables involved. The only way to determine the appropriate wick selection is by experimentation. Test burning will be necessary to determine the best wick for your candles! For testing, we offer for purchase, sample packs that contain 5 of each size wick within a series.

The candle in the photo above was made by me, Flicker. It is made from IGI 6006 which is a Paraffin & Soy Blend. It is poured in our 8 oz. Jelly Jar, colored with liquid candle dye and wicked with a CD series wick. That is taken after the candle has burned 4 full hours. This is what an ideal burn looks like.

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