Why Does a Candle Wick Mushroom?

Why does a candle wick mushroom

When you are learning how to make candles there are a lot of variables to keep up with. You’ve got to consider wax types, temperatures when you should add scents, and wick size is another important consideration… and our subject today!

More specifically, why does a candle wick mushroom? Mushroom wicking occurs when your candle isn’t burning at the same pace as your selected wick. This causes wax to become absorbed into the wick, resulting in excess carbon particles and voilla… the ‘mushroom wick.’

Happily, this is something that is easy to fix and today we’ll tell you all about how to do it. We’ll get into specifics about mushroom wicking so that you know more about the ‘why’ and so that you may quickly fix this and avoid this problem in the future. Let’s talk about mushroom wicking and what you can do!

How Do You Stop Wick Mushrooming?

The first time that wick mushrooming gets you is kind of strange. While described as mushrooming, some people think that it looks more like a ‘flower’, but the cause and effect is definitely the same. Wick mushrooming is best prevented with a little knowledge so here are the chief causes of it as well as what you can do.

Excess Burning Time

As a general rule, you always want to keep your burning times to below 4 hours and you always want to keep your wicks trimmed. Burning your candles for more than 4 hours is not recommended because what can happen is you end up superheating your wax. This can result in a reduction of your candles overall burn time but also wick mushrooming.

The superheated wax basically ends up building excess carbon on your wick and when it gathers in enough mass then that is when you end up with the mushrooming.

Wick Size

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If you are keeping your wick trimmed you might still get mushrooming and if you do, then this is an indicator that you should go with a smaller wick for the next time that you make a candle like this one.

Wicks that are too wide or too tall are another common cause for your candle to burn unevenly and those larger wicks can accrue a lot of carbon as well.

The solution is a little time consuming but it will teach you a lot. You will simply need to experiment with various smaller wicks until you find one which performs well for you. To ensure that you have ruled out length, be sure to trim each wick before testing and we recommend that you keep a notebook to write down the sizes that you test.

It is a slow process but it is actually good practice, as this will give you a feel for the performance which you will get with different wicks and this kind of experience only comes from experimentation.

Book learning is nice but it can only take you so far… this is how you’re going to REALLY learn your craft!

We recommend using a candle wick that is pre-waxed, tabbed, and has a diameter of 12.5mm like this candle wick by EricX Light.

Is Mushroom Wick Bad?

While a mushroom wick can definitely look a little strange and suspect, the good news is that it’s essentially a cosmetic issue. You WILL get a larger flame, but that is because your mushroom is basically a formation of carbon so it acts like extra fuel. It’s a common issue even with store-bought candles, although candlemakers certainly try to avoid mushrooming when they can.

Candles burn when the following 3 factors work together:

  • Fuel – Your wax and your wick.
  • Heat – Your flame, of course.
  • Oxygen – The air around your candle.

With mushrooming, ‘fuel’ now includes extra carbon. With the extra fuel, your fire burns hotter and brighter and the resultant mushroom reflect the process building on itself as your candle burns down at a much-accelerated rate.

This is where your experimentation is going to serve you, of course. The smaller, trimmed wicks should ideally even-out the process, so that your wax is vaporizing at the same rate as the wick. It takes trial and error but don’t worry, mushrooming wicking happens and you’ll get a handle on it with a little practice.

We should note, that while mushrooming is generally not going to be a fire hazard, a lot of that is going to depend on the actual size of the mushroom. If it is larger than a pea, then that is when you are going to get a substantially larger flame and in cases like that, it might be best to salvage the wax and start over.

That said, if you place the candle somewhere safe with the excess flame in mind then this is generally not going to be a big risk.

How Do I Stop Candles From Mushrooming?

The key to building a candle that isn’t going to suffer from wick mushrooming is simply going to be practice. As long as you are trimming your wicks and not burning for times in excess of the recommended 4 hours, then generally it just boils down to the size of the wick.

There is one more factor to consider, however, if you are seeing mushrooming and you’ve used this wick and wax combo before with no issues and that is scent. If you’ve added a new scent to your candle, while it’s not common, the addition of some scents can cause wick mushrooming.

The fix for this is the same as you would do with unscented candles and that is simply practice, practice, and more practice! While you can also buy specific wicks for specific wax mediums like paraffin or soya, practicing with the different wicks is still ideal because of what you can learn.

 So, try a smaller, well-trimmed wick and see what happens!

Are Candle Wicks Supposed to Mushroom?

Candles are supposed to burn evenly and are not expected to ‘mushroom’. That said, those black carbon mushrooms are more common than you’d think, even in store-bought candles. If you note mushrooming happening often with a specific brand then you might want to consider trying a new one, as this is something that a commercial vendor should definitely have noticed before production. 

If you see them in your own or in a friend’s creations, then it’s time to take notice and start trying out smaller wicks until you get your candles balanced and burning smoothly!

Final Thoughts

In this article we’ve talked about mushroom wicking and what you can do about it. Now you know that it has to do all about the candles function as a whole. As long as your wick is burning at the same pace as the wax surrounding it, then it should burn cleanly and smoothly.

Just be sure that you are using the right wick for the wax medium, so that if you have a soya or a paraffin candle then you know that the wick you are using is a perfect fit. Storing the appropriate wicks separately so that they are located with the raw materials helps to make this easy until the choice becomes intuitive.

Once you’ve done it a few times, then you can store all of your wick in a central location and at this point, wick mushrooming should be ‘yesterday’s problem’. It just takes time and a little practice and you’ll get there before you know it!

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