What is the best candle wick length?

The answer to this question depends on the type of wick your candle has, the wax used, any scents or dye added or the container that holds the candle. A properly wicked candle will burn more consistently, more cleanly and give a better burn time.

A candle with a wick that is too short, too long, too thick, too thin or not enough candle wicking for the size of the candle can increase the chances of candle tunneling, where a pool of melted wax surrounds the wick but does not extend to the whole diameter of the candle.

On average it is suggested that the best candle wick length is around 1/4 inch (0.6cm).

You can find out how to trim a candle wick by following the information below.

Types of Candle Wicks

Candle wicks can be made from braided fabrics, such as cotton or hemp, from paper or metal, or from wood. These materials can be made into a variety of different styles of wick from cored where there is an absorbent outer shell and a flammable core, flat or squared wicks.

Choosing the right wick for a candle involves considering the wax used and the size of the intended final product.

Vegan candle wicks

Natural and vegan candles will prefer organic or natural products such as cotton or hemp over zinc or paper wicking. For a cosy campfire-style candle burning experience choose ones with wooden candle wicks for the ultimate crackle candle.

This type of wick needs trimming between uses to remove the singed build up for a cleaner, more consistent crackly burn.

Crackle candles are becoming more and more popular, and wood is a more sustainable wick option than using other materials.

how to trim candle wick

Previously, some candle wicks used lead as the metal core in the wick. Burning lead was found to give off an alarming toxins and the use of it was banned during 2003. Some wicks still contain metal, but this is now more often zinc, as cored wicks containing metal threads aid stable burning and positioning.

Burning candles with metal cored wicks may give off more chemicals than braided fabric cores, however it is unlikely the quantity of harmful chemicals given off are high enough to cause any adverse effects to those in close proximity. 

You can find out more information about if candles are bad for you by visiting our candle FAQ.

How to trim a candle wick

It is recommended that to get the best burn out of your candle, a small portion should be removed after each 4 hours of burning.

This can be done with a small pair of scissors or using wick trimmers. This will help light your candle wick and keep it burning evenly.

Signs of incorrect wick size

There are some key things to look out for when burning your candle that could indicate it is incorrectly wicked. As mentioned above the main one of these is candle tunneling

This is where the melt pool does not reach the sides of the candle and if often an indicator of a candle wick that is too small for the size of the candle.

How to stop candle wick from mushrooming

At the opposite end of the candle tunneling is candle wick ‘mushrooming’, where the tip of the wick balloons as carbon deposits build up. 

This is a sign of a candle wick that is too big for the size of the candle or that it hasn’t been trimmed after every 4 hours of burn time at the most. 

Make sure to try and keep on top of trimming your wick to minimise the chances of candle wick mushrooming.

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