Problems With Candle Wicks

Written by larryp
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Problems With Candle Wicks
Candle wicks can be fussy so be careful how you treat them. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Having the proper wick in your candle will affect its burning process and how much burn time you can get out of that candle. Wick length, wick height, what the wick is made of and how it is positioned are all factors that can affect the candle. Candles do not burn adequately without proper wick treatment.

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Height of Candle Wicks

The height of your candle wick is important to candle burning. If the wick is too high, your candle will develop a crater and become malformed. Wicks need to be cut 1/4 inch from the candle. The size of the wick is measured from the top of the candle, where the wick protrudes from the candle. Take a ruler and measure the wick to 1/4 inch and trim the wick with sharp scissors if it needs to be shortened. You need the wick to be just the right length in order for your candle to burn to its full capacity and keep its shape.

Size of Wick

Wicks come in different sizes; these sizes reflect the diameter of the wick. If the wick is too small in diameter, the candle will not burn all the way down evenly and may not finish burning. Also, if the wick is too small, it can be drowned by the wax, meaning that the lit wick will be extinguished before your desired burning time is up. There are three basic type of wicks that are associated with width. There is the square braid wick, which works best for pillar and novelty candles. The flat braid wick is best for taper candles. The third is the cored wick, which is best for jar candles, floating candles and votives. However, the size of the wick does not matter for tea lights due to their size.

Lead Wicks

Although lead wicks were banned in 2003, you may still have some candles with lead wicks in them. While the candles themselves do not have lead, the wicks do. While burning, they emit a dangerous toxin. Lead wicks do not burn clear; instead, they produce a black smoke while burning. If your candles are producing black smoke, it's better to get rid of them for safety reasons. Additionally, lead wicks can cause the condensation of soot on paint; if you are using lead wick candles on the wall, such as in a sconce, you can develop a blackening on the wall around the candle. Lead wicks also present a lead poisoning hazard for children.

Off-Centered Wicks

Another common issue with wicks occurs when they are not centred inside the candle. This displacement can develop when you are blowing out the candle as well as during its making. It is important that you use a snuffer to blow out your candles instead of blowing on them yourself, as the force of your breath can knock the wick off-centre. Should this happen, the candle will not burn equally and you will experience burning on only one side of the candle. This can also be dangerous because the wax will spill over and can burn someone.

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