What Are Candle Wicks Made Of?

candle with wick trimmers

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Whether you enjoy relaxing in the warm glow of candles after long days spent at work, you love giving custom candles as gifts or you simply use candles to give your home a more pleasant aroma, you’ve probably never given much thought to their wicks. You likely think that a candle’s fragrance, shape and color are its most important features, but the wick is the real star of the show. It allows you to ignite your candle and does so much more. The wick determines how slowly or quickly a candle will burn, and it plays a major role in a candle’s overall cleanliness when lit. 

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If you have never spent much time thinking about these essential components, your first question might be: What are candle wicks made of? There are a few different options, but here at Homesick, our wicks are made from 100-percent organic cotton to ensure a clean, even fragrance experience. We’ve selected only the best ingredients for our products, but other brands often use inferior wicks to cut back on costs. Keep reading to learn more about what candle wicks are made of. 

Types of Wicks

Candle wicks come in several styles and are made using a wide range of materials. No matter what type of wick you prefer, always be sure to read and follow the candle care instructions. Some of the most common wick types include: 

Flat Wicks

Flat wicks are the most common type. Typically, they are made from three bundles of braided cotton or another fiber. They’re similar in shape to purse and backpack straps, and they are designed to curl as they are used. This results in a self-trimming effect. 

Square Wicks

Like flat wicks, square wicks are made from braided fiber. However, they are rounder and sturdier, which allows them to stay upright longer while in use. With this type, you typically need to trim the candle wick more frequently because they only curl and self-trim slightly. 

Cored Wicks

As the name suggests, this type of wick has a core. They’re made by pairing a sturdy inner core made of cotton or zinc with a fibrous outer layer. The core helps them stand up on their own and makes them a good choice for container candles. They are prone to mushrooming, though, so be prepared to trim frequently. Cored wicks are one of the most popular options for container candles.

Wooden Wicks

pair of white candles on counter

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Made primarily of natural wood, wooden wicks offer a slow, even burn. Some feature a single ply of wood, while others have multiple plies. There are also candles featuring decorative wooden wicks in various shapes. Wooden wicks produce a crackling sound reminiscent of that of a fireplace or campfire too. They are available in various shapes and sizes and require frequent trimming. 

Specialty Wicks

This category is sort of a catch-all. Some brands use their own proprietary wicks. There are also products — like insect-repellent candles — that require specialty wicks. Oil lamps need a special type of wick too. The specialty wicks category includes these wicks plus any others not included in the other categories. 

How Do Candle Wicks Work? 

Candle wicks don’t just burn like logs in a fireplace. Instead, they siphon fuel up to the flame through a scientific principle known as capillary action. Capillary action involves the adhesion, surface tension and cohesion of the fuel. In candles, the melted wax is the fuel. The wick pulls liquid into the wick by adhesion, and the wax travels upward because of the cohesion between its molecules and its surface tension. This is the same thing that happens if you dip a paper towel in water and watch the water travel up the paper. Capillary action allows plants to take in water and nutrients from their roots too. 

Different wick types and materials all have their own impact on capillary action. Some pull up more or less wax than others, which can accept the size and temperature of the flame and how quickly the candle burns. Wicks that burn too quickly can produce excess soot, while ones that burn too slowly are often difficult to keep lit. Though tiny, wicks play a huge role in the overall functionality of candles of all types. 

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closeup candle burning wick

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If you’re looking for candles with high-quality wicks that enable you to relax and enjoy a slow, even glow, check out the full selection at Homesick. We use high-quality wicks to ensure both safety and a long-lasting fragrance experience.