woman adding homemade candle wick to melted candle wax
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How to Make a Candle Wick

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The wick of a candle is the part that makes it functional. With a wick, you turn a brick of wax into a decorative and fragrant candle. While you can easily buy candle wicks to use in your homemade candles, you can just as easily make your own. Homemade candles wicks, if made correctly can be far higher quality than those you can buy from the store. Today, I will be explaining how to handcraft quality candle wicks in simple, straightforward steps anyone can follow.

How to Make a DIY Candle Wick –

2 Primary Methods

When it comes to making candle wicks two main options present themselves. Firstly there are cotton candle wicks. cotton wicks are the most conventional, however, there are also wooden wicks. Wooden wicks are thin slabs of wood that are crafted precisely for candle making. Wooden wicks are more fragrant and emit a soft crackling sound but they require more attention and maintenance.

Making Cotton Candle Wicks

This image displays candles with cotton wicks.

When making cotton candle wicks your first step will be heating the water. Start by heating one cup of water in a small saucepan or another small container. Let the water reach a simmer, not a full boil.

Secondly, you should dissolve the salt and borax. Pour the water into a glass bowl and add one teaspoon of salt and three teaspoons of borax; stir to dissolve.

Now that you have your borax solution, soak a piece of heavy cotton butcher’s twine in the solution for about 24 hours. Treating wicks with borax makes them burn longer and brighter, and reduces the amount of smoke and ashes produced in the burning process.

Next, remove the twine from the borax solution using tweezers. Hang the twine and let it dry for two or three days. Wait for the twine to be completely dry before you continue. You can use a clothespin or another clip to hang the twine in a dry space. Also, make sure to place aluminum foil beneath the drying twine to catch the solution as the excess dries off.

After that, break apart about 1/4 of a cup of candle wax and melt it using a double boiler set up. If you don’t know what kind of candle wax you should use click here for more information. If you don’t have a double boiler setup, you can achieve the same result with a metal can and a saucepan. In that case, heat one to two inches of water in the saucepan over your stove. Once again, let it simmer and steam without boiling. Then, place the metal can inside the hot water. Wait another minute or two before adding the candle wax. Melted wax can cause serious burns so handle it with care throughout the procedure.

After the wax has been melted, dip the treated twine. Coat as much of the twine in the melted wax as possible. You can technically use the borax-treated twine without a wax coating but the wax makes the wick stiffer, easier to handle, and makes the flame easier to catch on the wick. Once the twine has been dipped in the wax, hang it to dry as you did before. Use aluminum foil to catch any dripping wax as you did before. Wait until the wax hardens, which should only take a few minutes, and repeat this step a few more times. After a few coats of wax have been applied, your cotton candlewick is finished and ready to be inserted into a candle.

Making Wooden Candle Wicks

The first step to making your own wooden candle wicks is to trim down your balsa wood sticks. Use the same sticks that you’d find at a craft store. These sticks should be anywhere between 1/2 inch to 1-1/2. Trim the sticks down so it stands at least one inch above the container you plan to use for the candle.

Next, soak the balsa wood in olive oil. Place the trimmed wood into a small dish and pour enough room temperature olive oil to completely cover the wood. Coating the wood in olive oil allows the fire to catch quicker and burn more evenly. Let the wood soak in the olive oil for anywhere between twenty minutes to an hour. The longer you let it soak the brighter the flame will be.

Now that you’ve soaked your balsa wood in olive oil, wipe away the excess oil. Use clean paper towels or napkins. Once you’re finished, the wood should still feel damp and oily, but should not leave a residue on your hands.

Lastly, you will need to attach a wick tab to the base of your balsa wood stick. Pry open a metal wick tab and carefully push one end of the treated wood into the opening.

After you’ve finished that, you’re done! The wick is ready to be used when you make your next candle. Using wooden wicks instead of cotton ones will add a wooded scent to the candle as it burns. Wooden wicks also produce occasional crackling noises as the fire consumes them.

Other methods for Making Candle Wicks

While cotton candle wicks and wooden candle wicks are the most conventional options, there are many other options. When it comes to DIY candle wicks, the options are limitless. You can find almost any kind of DIY candle wick online but there’s one more type of candle wick that I think is worth bringing up.

Pipe Cleaner Wicks

The first step in the process of this candle wick is to melt wax in a double boiler. You’ll want to use somewhere between 1/4 and 1//2 of a cup of candle wax and place it in the top part of your double boiler. If you’re one of the unlucky souls not fortunate enough to have your double boiler, you can instead insert a metal can or bowl into a saucepan. After that, surround it with 1 to 2 inches of water. The water will sit only in the saucepan, not the inner dish. Heat the water to a simmer but do not allow it to reach a full boil. As the wax begins to melt, continue to the next step.

Your next step in making this creative DIY candle wick is twisting the pipe cleaner end. Wrap the base of an all-cotton pipe cleaner around a pencil or pen. When the pipe cleaner meets itself and overlaps slightly, twist the remainder up so that it runs across the side of the pen or pencil. Once you have shaped the pipe cleaner, you can slide it off the pencil. Make sure to use all-cotton pipe cleaners. Pipe cleaners made with synthetic fibers won’t burn as well or as safely.

Once you have finished trimming your pipe cleaner, it’s time to trim. Use some kind of cutter pliers to trim the long end of the pipe cleaner. Trim it so the pipe cleaner will stand around a half-inch above your candle vessel. Once you have cut your pipe cleaner, use needle-nose pliers to carefully twist the upright portion of the pipe cleaner toward the center of the circle. This part should remain upright, but it needs to be centered as best as you can make it. If the standing portion of the wick is too heavy or too far off-center, the distribution of weight may not be balanced and the wick could topple over instead of standing straight.

Now that you have both your melted wax and your finished wick, carefully dip the wick into the melted wax from earlier. Let the wick soak in the candle wax for several seconds. Melted wax can inflict serious injury if it splashes or drips onto your skin, so work carefully. Make sure that the entire wick is submerged in the melted wax, but don’t release it from your tweezers as it may be difficult to fish out if you let it go.

After removing the wick from the wax, your next step is to dry it. Set the wick down on a sheet of aluminum foil and wait a few minutes for the wax to dry and harden. Make sure to stand the wick on its circular base while it dries. When the wick is ready, the wax should be hard and cool enough to touch. You can repeat this step as many times as you want, but anywhere from one to three times is optimal. Let the wax dry in between repeats. It’s important to build a thick and consistent coating of wax on the outside of the wick. The wax allows the wick to catch fire more quickly as well as enables the wick to burn for a longer period.

Once you’ve done that, you’re done! You’ve finished your candle wick derived from a pipe cleaner. The cool thing about these wicks is that when you light them, the flame will spread heat through the entire wick, sending it into the candle beneath it. The candle will begin to melt underneath the wick, and the wick will eventually end up floating on top of the melted wax.

Other alternatives

There are countless alternatives to the candle wicks I’ve discussed so far. There are oil-soaked candle wicks, braided candle wicks, even candle wicks made from wires. You could even make your own candle wicks for bubble candles. The best part about making a DIY candle wick is just that: DIY. Making it yourself allows for any combination of creativity and challenge.

How well did my homemade candle wicks do? Results

The best way to figure out how well your candle wicks turned out is by conducting a burn test. I’ll be going over the procedure for a basic burn test for you to follow along with so you can test these DIY candle wick ideas.

Step One. Firstly, trim the wick to 1/4 inch. If you are testing multiple candles, make sure that they are clearly labeled.

Step Two. Secondly, place the candles on a clean, flat, and heat resistant surface around 3-6 inches apart. This area should be visible from your workspace as the candles should not be left unattended while lit.

Step Three. Next, light the candles and record the time. You must keep an eye on the candles while burning, especially when testing new wicks.

Step Four. After two hours record the details of the melt pool and wick appearance. Ideally, the melt pool will achieve the desired diameter* by that point. If it hasn’t, the wick is most likely too small. Pay attention to any soot or mushrooming on the wick.

Step Five. After four hours record the details of the melt pool and wick, then blow out the flame gently. By this point, the melt pool of a well-wicked candle will have achieved the desired diameter* and should be approximately 1/2 inch deep. If the wick is mushrooming, the candle is shooting, or the melt pool is deeper than 1/2 inch the wick is most likely too large.

Step Six. Let the candle cool for at least five hours and repeat steps three, four, and five until the candle is completely burned. The quality of the burn will almost always change during the entire burning of the candle. To make sure you see exactly what your customers will see burn the entire candle before making a wick decision. If you are trying to select the perfect wick to start your candle business with, make sure to read our comprehensive article!

How to Make a Multi-wick Candle?

Image of a multi wick candle

So you’ve finally mastered the single-wick candle. Congratulations, now it’s time to move to the next level: candles with multiple wicks. A fun challenge that comes with an amazing result: Flickering flames and a multiplied crackling sound.

As is the case with all candles, making a multi-wick candle will require burn testing to allow you to get an idea of what works and what doesn’t. If you have the single-wick process down, this shouldn’t take you especially long to master, but if you haven’t conducted a burn test with a single wick candle yet, I suggest doing that first.

When making a multi-wick candle the first thing you need to consider is candle diameter. This is because the diameter of your candle is the biggest limiting factor for how many wicks you can use. To set a baseline for burn testing a multi-wick candle, start by deciding how many wicks you want to use.

Start by dividing the diameter of your vessel by the number of wicks you will be using. This is your melt pool diameter. For example, if you have a 6″ diameter across the top of your vessel and you plan on using 3 wicks, all you have to do is divide 6 by 3 so you know that each wick needs to create a 2″ melt pool.

Now when making (or buying) your wicks, you know that your wick has to create a 2″ melt pool. Keep in mind that this is only a baseline, you may still need to wick up or down depending on your burn test results.

The shape of your vessel also determines how you should place your wicks. If you have a long rectangular shape, you might want to space your wicks out evenly along the center length of your vessel. A round vessel may require 2 or even 3 wicks, depending on the size of the vessel and the design you are trying to achieve

Finally, make sure to always evenly space wicks from each other along the sides of your vessel.

Conclusion

3 main tutorials for candle wicking. Each tutorial on these pages is quite straightforward. The necessary materials can easily be purchased at an affordable rate (If you don’t have them already.) I hope you try your luck, and thoroughly enjoy these DIY candle wicks, as they are some of my personal favorites. If you’ve made it this far, consider reading some of our other articles, they are all informational and can provide you with the insight you need to develop a broader understanding of the candle market as a whole.

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