|Man knows so much and does so little. - Inventor Buckminster Fuller|
There Are Many Different Types of Candle Wicks
There are many different types of candle wicks on the market and each has a specific application and a specific amount of fuel it will be able to consume. Keep track of all factors involved in creating your candles and duplicate your formula in order to get consistent results. If you choose to change something in the formula, no matter what it is, test your project again in order to achieve accurate results. The wick will be the most consistent part of your formula.
Factors to Include In Your Formula
There are several factors that determine the proper wick size for each project.
Flat and square braid wicks tend to curl into the flame, causing them to burn cleaner. Cored wicks will not curl, so they are commonly used when curling may cause problems such as deep melting jars or votives.
Uh-oh! I can’t tell my wicks apart!
It is important to keep your wicks well labeled and separated since similar sizes look identical. Often the only difference is the tightness of the braiding.
Use this wick in candles that require a self supporting wick, such as in container type candles, votives, pillars, and novelties. For increased rigidity, pre-waxing of these candle wicks is recommended. Common cores include: cotton, paper, and zinc. Zinc is the most rigid followed by paper and cotton.
Flat Braid Wick
Commonly used for taper candles, but may also be used for novelty, pillar, and rolled candles. It’s designed to bend slightly while burning to allow for an even burn and a reduction of carbon (mushrooming) at the tip.
Square Braid Wick
This is most commonly used for pillar, molded, and novelty candles, but may also be used for tapers (dipped). Works best with beeswax, soy wax, veggie wax, and citronella. Most beeswax candle makers favor the square braid. It is also designed to bend slightly at the tip while burning.
HTP (High Temperature Paper)
This wick combines the benefits of a self-trimming wick with the rigidity found in cored wicks. The added rigidity of these wicks provide improved wax pool symmetry and less carbon heading (mushrooming) than the traditional cored wicks. This universal wick performs well in vegetable waxes, paraffin, and gel.
Performa Coreless Wick
These special cotton flat braid wicks are formed with a stiffening wrap so they stand straight and resist bending while burning. They also create a more robust flame in more difficult, viscous applications. The can be used in beeswax, pillar candles, soy wax, tapers, vegetable wax, and containers.
LX Wick (German Coreless)
LX wicks are a uniquely braided, coreless, flat wick constructed with stabilizing threads that ensure an optimum burn profile. The stabilizing thread maintains a slight curl when burning to allow for a very stable and consistent flame which minimizes carbon buildup (mushrooming) while reducing afterglow, smoke, and soot. Choose this wick when creating container type candles and pillars because it is designed to improve the burning of paraffin and vegetable waxes.
This series offers a directional round wick with uniquely braided cotton core and tension threads that give the wick a slight, but effective, curl during burning. The wick is directional in that it provides increases flow of fuel (wax and fragrance) to the flame. These wicks are able to consume viscous materials such as vegetable wax, gels, and soy wax without clogging or drowning. This is especially helpful in container type candles, votives with high fragrance loads, and especially useful in pillars due to their centered burn pools. RRD wicks are known for having reliable quality and maintaining a stable and consistent flame.
The CD series of wicks provide a coreless, non-directional, flat braid style wick with interwoven paper threads. This configuration will offer you increased rigidity and will improve the burn of the candle. This multipurpose wick works well with many waxes, especially well with harder to melt waxes of both paraffin and vegetable bases. They are a favorite among seasoned candle makers.
The burn rate is the amount of wax consumed in grams per hour by the wick. The lower the burn rate number, the less wax will be consumed. The burn rates provided are only to be used as a basic guide and starting point as many different factors, such as wax, fragrance oil, and container, will alter the burn rate. In order to obtain the most accurate results for your candles, test burning is recommended.
How do I test burn a candle and how do I determine how long it will burn?
Before lighting the candle, use a scale to weigh it in order to find its total weight. Then light the wick and let it burn for three hours (assuming it’s a three inch diameter candle). Weigh the candle once more. Now you can calculate the burn rate.
Assume you have a 16 oz candle and after 3 hours of burning it weighs 15.5 oz. This means that 0.5 oz burned in 3 hours. Divide that by 3, so in 1 hour 0.16 oz burned away. Now take your original total weight (16 oz) and divide that by your per hour burn rate (0.16 oz). This will give you your total burn time of approximately 100 hours.
If you are calculating the burn rate of a container candle, you must account for the weight of the container also. Before you pour the wax, weigh the container. Then weigh the container again after pouring (be sure the candle is completely cooled). Subtract the empty container weight from the finished candle and this new weight is your total weight of the actual candle.
Finished candle weight – Empty container weight = Total weight
When you have your total weight, burn the candle for three hours and follow the directions above.
If you have a smoking wick, most of the time this is because the wick chosen for the candle is too big. When a wick is too big, it will try to consume more melted wax than the flame can efficiently burn. The unburned material breaks away as soot or smoke. If there is more fuel flowing up the wick than can be fully burned with the available oxygen, smoke is produced which is the evidence of the unburned fuel.
Mushrooming occurs when the wax in a candle burns faster than the wick, causing a curled, blackened bit of excess wick that does not burn properly and hangs like a charred ball over the candle. This is most common in highly scented candles. A little bit of mushrooming is okay, but excessive mushrooming can cause your candle to smoke and drip burnt pieces of wick into your melt pool.
The most common cause of mushrooming is using a wick that is too big for the candle. In order to rule out the wick as the problem, go down a size in wick on your next pour and try again. Continue to decrease the wick size until you no longer observe mushrooming. If you go too small and find symptoms of a too-small wick, go back to the last smallest wick that burned correctly.
If you find the wick size is correct and you still have mushrooming, begin to investigate other areas for improvement. It could be your candle has more added oil than it can handle, this can include fragrance oils, colorants, and oil based additives. Begin with one of these factors and re-pour, reducing the amount of the chosen additive until you have no more mushrooming. Once you have none of the additive in the candle, you can now rule it out as the cause. Majority of the time the wick is the problem. Fragrance is next likely the culprit. If neither of those is the problem, then try reducing the colorant and any other oil based additive until you find which factor is causing your mushrooming problem.
Get more candle information from the National Candle Association.
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