What’s so special about wood wicks? There’s more to them than just good looks. Let’s see how wood wick candles differ from those with traditional wicks and learn a few candle care tips for getting the most out of your candles. We'll also show you which size wooden wick to use if you're making candles yourself!
Wood vs. Cotton Wick Candles
The first thing you’ll probably notice the first time you light a wood wick candle is the gentle crackle and pop as it burns. The soft sound is like a tiny campfire giving your burning candle a warm, fuzzy ambiance.
After a while, you’ll also see that wood wick candles tend to burn more evenly than traditional cotton wick candles, thanks to the lower, wider flame of a wooden wick. That can increase the candle’s burn time, giving you more hours of scent, and also help prevent tunneling (which we’ll get into in the next section).
Plus, unlike pre-tabbed cotton candle wicks, which are usually coated with beeswax, wooden wicks are vegan! My soy wax candles have always been environmentally sustainable, with wax made from U.S.-grown soy and packaging that's reusable or compostable, but I’m glad to finally say they're also 100% vegan.
Speaking of which, so are the wooden wicks: the wood comes from mills certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which means it’s from forests that are managed in environmentally and socially responsible ways.
Wooden Wick Candle Care
Wooden wick candles are much like any other candle, but the main difference in how to use them is that you should keep the wick trimmed to about 1/8 inch long. That’s a little shorter than the 1/4 inch length for cotton wicks because wooden wicks are wider, so they don’t need as much length. A long-handled wick trimmer is the perfect tool for the job.
But both types of wicks will accumulate carbon buildup on the end if left untrimmed or burned for too long at a time. You should only burn a candle for around 4 hours, depending on the diameter (about one hour per inch), and always trim the wick before each lighting.
This might be more important for wooden wicks. While carbon buildup might cause a cotton wick to have too large a flame or produce soot, that charred wood might make a wooden wick hard to light in the first place. If that’s the case, try trimming the wick. Here’s about how long a wooden wick should be:
If it’s still hard to light, try holding the flame at the bottom of the wick and light it from there. This melts a little bit of candle wax, giving fuel to the flame as the wick draws it up.
Another issue that plagues many candle lovers is tunneling. This happens when you don’t do a long enough burn the first time you light a candle, also called a “memory burn.” A new candle always remembers its first melt pool (the circle of melted wax around the flame). So, when you first light a candle, remember to let it burn long enough to melt to the edge or within about 1/4 inch of it.
If you don’t, then the next time you light your candle, the melt pool may only spread as wide as it did the first time. But if you forgot, don’t worry — candle tunneling is easy to fix.
Wood Wick Candle Making
Looking for the right wooden candle wicks for your DIY project? Here's a quick guide to help you pick the best candle wick based on the type of wax you're using and your candle's container size.
Wood Candle Wick Categories
Wood candle wicks are available in many different types and shapes, but the most common are single-ply “flat” wicks and double-ply “booster” wicks. These are made using various types of wood to make them “crackling” or “quiet," depending on your preference.
Whether you should use a flat or booster wood wick depends on the type of candle wax you're using and the size of your candle container. These will also affect the wood thickness you'll need, which is why wooden wicks are typically listed by their type (crackling vs. quiet and flat vs. booster), followed by their thickness and width in inches.
Choosing the Right Wooden Candle Wick
Use the interactive table below to choose which wooden wicks are best for your candle project. You can sort by your candle container's diameter and wax type (coconut wax, soy wax, beeswax, paraffin, hemp, or a blend) using the column labels.
These are just a starting point. If you're making a batch of candles, it's best to test a few wicks with the container you plan to use and see which one works best. Once you pour your test candle/s, let them cure for 1-2 weeks if using natural wax like soy or coconut (the longer, the better) before lighting. Paraffin wax candles only need to cure for a couple of days.
Once lit, the candle's melt pool should reach the edge of its container within one hour for every inch in diameter (for example, around three hours for a three-inch container). At that point, the melt pool should only be about 1/4" deep. If it's much deeper than that, or if the flame is overly large or smoking by the three-hour mark, the wick is probably too large.
The Difference a Wick Makes
Wood and cotton wicks both have their perks. Cotton wick candles glow a little brighter, while wooden wicks burn a little more evenly. But if you love a warm crackling fire, you’ll appreciate the ambiance of a wooden wick. No matter your preference, a few habits will keep your candles burning cleanly and evenly. To avoid smoke, soot, and the dreaded tunneling, remember to do a memory burn and always trim your wick.
Check out my wooden wick soy candles in the shop! They're sustainably made with reusable and compostable packaging, and you can reuse the gorgeous glassware after you've enjoyed all that non-toxic, phthalate-free scent.