Your wick is the simplest and probably the most purest part of your whole candle system. It is the engine of your candle; it is the part that drives the burn and determines how your candle will burn and for how long.
For this reason the wick is probably one of the most important parts of your candle that you need to get right.
Unfortunately most candles are wrongly wicked due to miseducation and lack of test burning.
A wrongly wicked candle can look very ugly indeed with big, fat ugly mushroom heads on the wick, black soot around the edge of the jars and in the worst cases, shattering glass. The wrong wick can also inhibit your scent throw.
So how do you pick the right wick?
Unfortunately this comes down to hard work and trial and error. Due to the nature of soy wax and the different standards of fragrances that are available, there is no one and definitive answer that goes with certain diameters of glassware.
We can give you a starting point. From this starting point it is then up to you to make a candle using this wick, test burn the candle to evaluate itʼs performance and make a decision from there.
When producing my own candles it would take me many weeks and many, many test burns of different sized wicks to settle on the one wick that burnt to my satisfaction with the chosen combination of fragrance and dye.
There is a myth out there many candle makers believe concerning the melt pool and it is the reason most candles are over wicked. A lot of the information that is available on the internet stems from the days of paraffin candles. This myth of the melt pool is one of them.
You will often read articles saying that you have to burn the candle for the first time until it reaches the edges, because it will create a memory and then tunnel down the middle of your candle on all subsequent burns. This is true of paraffin but not of soy candles. If your candle creates a full melt pool in the first couple of hours then I can say with 100% certainty you have over wicked and you will more than likely get large, sooty mushrooms and even black soot over the inside of your jar. If your wick is overly large, you run the risk of your candle glass cracking due to the excessive amount of heat it is producing.
Underwicking also produces itʼs fair share of problems. A candle that is under wicked will ‘tunnelʼ which means it will burn straight down the middle of the candle and never get out to the edge. This is a waste of wax and fragrance and you will never get a strong enough throw.
So what then is a correct burn in a correctly wicked candle?
Ultimately the perfect burn is a full melt pool after the third or fourth burn (at least 5 – 6 hours depending on the size of the candle. I am talking about something like our large monaco jar).
A correctly wicked candle will not mushroom badly if at all. Not every candle can be mushroom free as some fragrances affect how the wick will burn. When manufacturing my own range of candles I had 95% of them burning mushroom free. The other 5% no matter what size wick I used or what percentage of fragrance I used, it still produced a small mushroom at some stage of the burn. As a rule of thumb, if, when your candle has burnt to the end, it has left no wax or very little wax on the side of the glass and did not have a huge ugly mushroom throughout the burn, then that is successful. The ultimate aim is to have a clean burn with no wax residue left on the glass at the end. Some of my candles never achieved a full melt pool until at least half way but were always clean at the end.
When test burning you will notice that the candle can go through stages of burning with and with out a mushroom. It is so important to test burn and keep notes. Notes need to include what time you started the burn, what did the wick look like at different stages in this first burn, what time did this burn finish and for how long did it go. This is repeated every time you light your candle. At the end of the burn when you look over your notes, you have a very clear picture of how your candle performed and whether or not you need to dramatically change it up or down or slightly tweak it.
Not only is choosing the correct sized wick important for your ultimate throw and aesthetic look of your candle when burning, itʼs also so very important in keeping your clients safe and healthy. A sooty soy candle is as bad as the old paraffin candles everybody likes to bag.