If you’re interested in making your own candles, you are probably trying to understand the waxing of candle wicks and whether this needs to be done in order to make the candle burn well. Do you have to wax the wicks, or can you use unwaxed wicks in candles?
You shouldn’t use unwaxed wicks in candles because this can lead to pockets of air that can make the candle flame flare suddenly and unexpectedly. A waxed wick also has fuel that will get the candle burning properly even before the wax of the candle has begun to melt.
You can buy pre-waxed wicks or wax them yourself, but you should make sure you put waxed wicks in your candle. This will help you to achieve easy lighting, a steadier burn, and a better result all round. Unwaxed wicks may burn unevenly.
Do I Need to Wax a Wick?
Yes, you do need to wax your candle wicks before you use them, unless you have purchased pre-waxed wicks. This is a great way to save on time if you find the waxing process fiddly or you just want to get your candles made and ready to use, so do consider this option.
There are many choices for pre-waxed wicks and you should experiment to see which material gives you the best kind of burn for your candle choice. This may also help you to decide how to go forward if you decide to start waxing them yourself.
Many candle-makers prefer to buy the pre-waxed wicks because the waxing process can be a little fiddly, but you certainly don’t have to if you would rather purchase the wick plain and prime it yourself. Either is a good option for making the most out of your candle, but don’t use unwaxed wicks in your candles.
If you don’t wax your wick, you may find that your candle burns out before it has managed to melt the wax of the candle, or that it sputters strangely further down because air pockets have got trapped inside and disrupt the flame when it reaches them. Waxed wicks make for a much better experience overall.
How Do You Wax a Wick?
In order to wax a wick, you need to get some suitable wax and melt it. There are quite a few options and you may wish to experiment to see which kind of wax you like best for your candles. This might depend on the candle’s thickness and height, the wax the candle itself uses, and your personal preference for burn type.
We recommend using a soy based wax like this one which you can find on Amazon.
Once you have your wax, it needs to be melted in a pan on a hot stove. Don’t use a pan that you intend to use for cooking later; you should have a dedicated wax pan to avoid any cross-contamination with your food.
You can, if you like, simply drop the wick into your candle’s melting pot. Cut a square of greaseproof paper and set it to one side to put the wick on once you remove it, and then watch the wick.
After a while, you should see some small bubbles rise up from the wick to the surface of the pan. This is because the wax is replacing the air in the wick, and sealing the fibers. This should prevent flaring and make sure that the flame has sufficient fuel when the candle is first lit.
You can then remove the wick from your melted wax. Use an old fork or other tool and take care not to burn yourself. Allow excess wax to drip back into the pan, and then gently pull the ends to straighten the wick.
This is important, as when the wax dries, the wick will become less flexible and any attempts to straighten it could crack the waxy layer away. Since you want the wick to run through the center of the candle, it needs to be pulled into a straight line before the wax has solidified.
Drop the straightened wick onto the greaseproof paper to solidify. As the wax cools, it will adhere to the wick and stiffen it, and your wick should now be ready to use in a candle.
Are Candle Wicks Waxed?
Yes, you will find that most candle wicks are waxed to improve their ability to burn when the candle is first lit and to remove any pockets of air from the candle. Occasionally, you may come across candles with unwaxed wicks, and these might prove slightly harder to light than other candles.
In general, the only candles with unwaxed wicks are large pillar candles, which may sometimes be made with an unprimed wick.
A lot of candle-makers prefer to buy their wicks pre-waxed because this gives them a consistent burn and saves them a bit of work. However, it is easy to wax your own if you would like to have a go at this, so don’t be afraid to experiment and try it out!
Why Do Candle Wicks Have Wax on Them?
The most important reason for waxing candle wicks is probably to make the candle easy to light. Nobody wants to be struggling to get the candle to burn when it has just come out of its packaging, and if you’re just lighting cotton string or paper, you may find that the flame keeps going out until the wax of the candle begins to melt.
This can be frustrating, but a waxed wick supplies instant fuel to the flame and will help to get the initial burst of heat to light the wick itself. Think of it like using a firelighter to get your fire going in the winter.
Secondly, waxed wicks can provide a more consistent burn. Unwaxed, the wick may have air pockets trapped inside the material that the wick is made of, and there’s nothing you can do about this. When the flame reaches them, it is likely to suddenly flare up, and this makes for a less pleasant experience with the candle.
Having wax available on the wick also ensures constant fuel delivery to the flame. While the rest of the candle should help with this, the flame is only on the wick, so it is a good idea to ensure there is always fuel at the ready – and what better way than by soaking the wick itself in wax?
The final reason is that waxing the wick makes it easier to insert it into the candle because it stiffens the material, so you can thread it through more simply.
Candle wicks do need to be waxed in order to perform well. That isn’t to say that an unwaxed wick will fail to burn or will ruin your candle, but you simply won’t get such a good result overall. Your candles will be fine for home use and you can still have fun making them, but they probably won’t be so popular if you sell them.
If you can, wax your candle wicks yourself and experiment with the different waxing options available. If you would prefer, buy some pre-waxed wicks and use these in your candles.
There’s nothing wrong with using wicks that are already waxed, as this can be a bit of a fiddly business and many candle makers prefer to have somebody else do it.