Firstly, if you aren’t trimming your candle wicks, you should be. A candle wick should be trimmed for every four hours of burn time in order to produce the maximum efficiency and keep your candle flame to a small size – which stops the candle from being used up so fast. It also protects your home from soot stains and makes things look nicer.
You can trim some candle wicks with scissors, but it depends on what the wick is made of. If your candle’s wick is made of cotton or paper, it should be easy enough to trim it provided you have sharp scissors, but if the wick is made of something tougher, like wood, you may find that scissors won’t do the trick and leave a ragged, untidy edge.
Getting a clean cut on your wick is important, as it will give you a more even burn and a tidier looking candle. You should always use a sharp implement for trimming, and choose one that is strong enough to cut through the wick with ease, no matter what it is made of. Don’t useblunt scissors or a knife.
Can You Use Scissors to Trim a Candle Wick?
Yes, you can use scissors to trim a candle wick provided that the wick is soft enough for this. Many wicks are made of natural fibers like cotton-based string or paper, and these should trim easily enough with a pair of sharp scissors. You can simply snip the top off and discard the burnt part, leaving the rest.
However, many people recommend using a special wick trimmer, which can be purchased at most candle stores. This ensures a nice, even cut every time, and may help you to make sure you don’t cut the wick too short (which makes the candle difficult or impossible to relight).
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Wick trimmers also make it easier to reach into the jar when the candle has burnt low, as they have long, angled handles specifically designed for this. Scissors may not reach, and don’t have the angle to provide a neat cut when you are pointing them downward.
Of course, a lot of people won’t have dedicated wick trimmers, and if scissors work for you, that’s okay too. Some people may find the dedicated trimmer easier or nicer, while some might prefer a pair of all-purpose, easy-to-use scissors that they can just grab from the kitchen drawer any time they need them.
Do make sure your scissors are sharp, however. Blunt scissors will mush up the end of the wick, which makes it harder to light and may spread and enlarge the flame. If you don’t have any sharp scissors, or if they aren’t strong enough to get through the wick, consider a wick trimmer instead.
Some people also use a pair of nail clippers for candle wick trimming. This is an innovative approach and if it works for you, that’s great! You will probably want a dedicated pair for your candles. You may even find nail clippers are strong enough to cut through wooden wicks.
How Do You Trim a Candle Wick?
So, how does wick trimming work? What do you need to do?
The idea is to cut off the excess wick, leaving enough for you to light the candle next time, but not so much that the flame is burning on a long piece of string that sticks out way above the wax of the candle.
Take some sharp scissors, some proper wick trimmers, or some nail clippers, and cut away the used wick at the top. You do need to leave some wick, or you will struggle to light the candle next time, but it should be a short piece that is just big enough for the flame to catch on.
Usually, between an eighth of an inch and a quarter of an inch is sufficient. Try cutting it to a quarter the first few times while you get used to the motion, and then aim for a bit shorter.
You can cut the wick every time you light the candle. The wick should be completely cold when you do it, so it’s easier to do this just before lighting, rather than when you have just blown the candle out. Make a habit of trimming the wick each time you go to light the candle.
What Happens if You Don’t Trim Candle Wicks?
Well, you might notice that sometimes the wick sort of “mushrooms” into a larger, swollen end, or sometimes the flame gets really big and burns through the wax too fast. That is because the wick needs trimming, and if you don’t trim it, you’ll find your candle gets used up very quickly.
You may also find that the flame leaves sooty marks on the wall or its glass jar, because it’s much bigger than it should be. You ought to be trimming your candle wick before this happens, so try and cut the wick each time you’re going to light the candle.
The flame from a trimmed candle is often much neater and prettier to look at, too, so if you’re all about the aesthetic – which is one of the biggest reasons for burning a candle, after all – you should definitely consider trimming for this reason.
You should be trimming your candle wicks quite often to keep your candles tidy and efficient, and to reduce the ugly sooty marks that the flame causes. A small flame (produced by a minimal amount of wick) is tidier, reduces the speed with which the wax burns, and makes less soot, so it’s nicer all round.
You can trim your candle every time you are preparing to light it, or make a habit of trimming them once a week, a month, etc., depending on how often you light them. Try to trim them once every four hours they burn, at least, as this will give the best results.
Don’t trim candle wicks so short you can’t light the flame, but do trim them and remove any wick debris from around the top of the candle so that they can burn efficiently and prettily.