One would never guess when looking at a candle burning just how scientific the whole process is. Nor would they guess that perhaps the most critical component of the candle is the candle wick. Just as your car can not run without gas, a candle can not burn without the proper wick. Trying to decide the proper wick can be overwhelming and confusing. Let’s try and make things a little simpler!
First, you must understand what the wick does. It does not just create the flame and heat. When you first light a wick it begins to burn and causes a “melt pool” in the candle. This melt pool is now the gas of the candle and the wick is fuel pump that gets the gas (wax) to the area to be consumed. The wax is drawn up into the wick and burns away. Just as with your fuel pump, the wick can become clogged, be too small, or too large.
There are hundreds of wicks on the market today. Most reputable sites will give you a basic idea of what wick is suitable for the type of candle you are making. This information will give you a base line of where to begin on choosing a wick. I always recommend purchasing a sample pack of wicks (several different wicks in several different sizes) to test your candles to start with. Out of the hundreds of wicks there are 7 main categories and most come waxed or un-waxed, tabbed or un-tabbed.
Cored wicks are wicks with some type of core, whether it is cotton, zinc or tin. This core allows them to stand up straighter and is more suitable in candles such as votives and pillars.
Flat braided wicks are suitable for non-container type candles like pillars and taper candles.
Square braided wicks are most commonly used in beeswax candles, tapers and pillars.
LX wicks are flat braided but have an added thread for stability. This thread works similar to a core allowing the wick to be self-supporting. This type of wick will improve the burning ability of paraffin and vegetable wax candles. This type of wick is best used in container candles and pillars.
RRD series wick is a round braided wick with a cotton core. This wick will absorb more of the wax pool than the normal wick.
CD series wick is a flat braided coreless wick. It is best used in harder to burn formulations of paraffin and vegetable waxes.
Performo Coreless wicks are a flat braided all cotton wicks. This wick will cause a stronger flame in those harder to burn waxes.
When choosing your wick you must always take into consideration the type of wax being used, the melt point of the wax, the size and shape of the candle, the amount and type of fragrance oils, colorants and additives.