Wicks to Use to Make Candles

I've researched and researched and can't find a good reliable source of information. What can we use to make wicks for our homemade candles? Here's what I've found:

  • plain cotton string

  • plain cotton twine

  • store-bought?!?!

I'm at a loss.

At our next homestead, I plan to plant some cotton. I'll pick the cotton then twist it into string to use as wicks. Meanwhile...

  1. Please.... if you have an idea of what we can use for wicks to make wax candles and beeswax candles and even bayberry candles, please leave your information as a comment here. We're looking for something that we can make from what we can grow.
  2. Is there a book or website or anything that shows how to twist or otherwise manipulate raw cotton into wicks? Please comment.

Thanks. When I've gathered the information and tried it out, I'll put up a separate posting.


Anonymous said...

I've been wondering whether you could use twine stiffened by dipping it in wax and letting it harden a few times before making the candle with it. I think it might be easier to dip or to keep it erect in a mold.

DayPhoto said...

I have been looking over your site and boy am I amazed.

I would like to link yours to mine if you are okay with it.


ThrtnWmsFam said...

Anon: that's a good idea. We plan to grow cotton so I bet we could twist the cotton into a thin "twine" and then dip into a little wax to stiffen then to use as a wick. Good thinking!

Linda: yes, please link to this site! I appreciate it.


Kiki-Chan said...

Hi Vicky:
This info was read a while ago, and it was in Spanish, so bear with me...
Modern candles have synchronized the burning rate between the wick and the wax. Used to be that the wax melted too fast and the wick burned too slowly, so that the candle was wasted. It gave too little light and the candle burned far too fast.
Then, they had people with the chore of cutting the wick once in a while, depending on the rate of the particular candle, with a scissor-thingy. It was not easy, for you could extinguish the candle yourself while attempting to do it either by cutting in the wrong spot, by vibrating the wick or simply getting so engrossed in the cutting that you blew it out. Also, see how the wick in a modern candle stays upright after the flame is gone? Back then the wicks were not that stiff and could fall into the puddle of melted wax.
(Here the article went into a very interesting, but off-topic dissertation regarding the words pabilo=wick and despabilar=to awaken someone so they act bright)
Anyways, since you are attempting to make your own wicks and wax both, I think you will have to experiment with different widths, fiber mixes, waxes, additives, and such to get your best match in speeds.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading a while ago that there's something of a science behind wick design. Modern wicks (yes, that sounds odd) are braided out of three strands of twisted cotton.

The old style of wick was simply twisted the same way that a piece of string is twisted. In fact, that's all the old wicks were. What happens with a simple twisted piece of string used for a wick is that it stays straight up (vertical) in the flame. This allows the wick to get too long and start burning far too much wax far too quickly. The result is a flickering candle, black sooty mess and a big waste of a lot of wax.

With a braided wick, the wick will bend over sideways during the burn so that the end is always pushing out of the side of the flame. In the transitional region between the edge of the flame and the air, the wick burns off and it keeps the length of the wick much shorter, thereby slowing consumption of wax since wax consumption is dictated by the length of wick in the flame. It keeps too much wax from being sucked up into the flame and wasted.

You will probably have to do some experimenting -- fatter candles need a fatter wick to make more heat and keep the puddle right out to the edge of the candle and skinnier candles need thinner wicks for obvious reasons. Either that, or just buy braided wicks from companies that make wicks.