Are Candle Wicks Supposed To Turn Black?

Have you made a beautiful candle and noticed that the wick is turning black? You may be wondering if this is normal or if something has gone wrong during the creation of your candle. In this article, you will find out if it is normal for candle wicks to turn black and how to best care for your candle wick to reduce the soot build-up in your candle.

As a candle wick burns, it naturally becomes black due to the soot created through the process of combustion. Therefore, candle wicks can turn black due to the unburned carbon. You can, however, control the amount of soot or blackness appearing in your candle and its vessel by keeping it well maintained.

Candles are not only a great product to use to create light and a great atmosphere, but also to look at as they can be aesthetically pleasing due to the different colors and designs. Let’s explore the candle-burning process, why candle wicks turn black, and how to maintain an efficient candle.

It Is Normal For A Candle Wick To Turn Black

It is normal for a candle wick to turn black due to how it is made and the combustion process it goes through to keep the flame going. If you have a candle at home and have noticed you have a black wick, know it is normal and very common.

When you light a candle, the heat melts the wax around the wick. The wax gets drawn up through the wick to keep the flame burning. If the wax is drawn up to the flame faster than it can be burned, this creates soot.

This soot may appear as your wick turning black, smoke coming from your candle, and even blackening the candle vessel.

Therefore, we can see how it is a natural process of using these different substances together, which allows the candle to burn and produce light. However, there are some tips to assist the candle in minimizing the amount of soot created from the combustion process.

4 Wick Tips To Support The Efficiency Of Your Candle

Let’s explore the main things to focus on to ensure your candle is efficient, long-lasting, and stays in optimal condition. Following these tips will reduce the amount of soot and blackness created in your candle.

1. Don’t Use A Wick That Is Too Long

When you make a candle and use a wick that is too long, it can cause more soot to be created. This is due to the long wick forming a hotter and larger flame, but the problem is that the increased amount of wax being drawn into the wick is faster than it can actually burn.

This brings the process out of balance, therefore, causing incomplete combustion, which will create excess soot in the candle. We can see how the wax has no other option but to transform and produce soot, as the burning process is too slow due to the length of the wick used.

From this, we can acknowledge that it is the candle maker’s error and not the candle doing its natural process that has contributed to excess soot and blackness being created within the candle.

If you can get the wick length right, you can reduce this issue. It is recommended that you keep the wick length to a ¼ of an inch. You can purchase wick trimmers on Amazon which will help you maintain your wick. Ensure to only cut the wick when it is cold.

2. Pick Your Wax Wisely

There is no wax that is sootless, but there are waxes that tend to burn more cleanly. The quality and type of wax can determine the amount of soot produced.

Plant-based waxes such as soy and beeswax don’t seem to produce as much soot as waxes such as paraffin. Fragrances and additives added to the wax can also have an effect on the amount of soot produced.

3. Using The RightType Of Wick

There are many types of wicks available to use in candles. The different materials used can promote more soot or smoke to be produced. Although the type is less important than the length of the wick, it is still a factor.

Cotton wicks are less likely to produce soot compared to zinc core wicks. Part of this can be because zinc core wicks can bend over, also known as “mushrooming”. This causes the wick to be curled and produce soot on the wick. This also increases the length of the wick, in which, again, the burning cannot keep up with the amount of wax that is being pulled up by the wick.

4. Maintain A Consistent Flame

Having a consistent flame is an important tip to reduce the soot in the candle. Ideally, you want your candle to produce a steady and calm flame, therefore appearing in a teardrop shape with minimal movement.

You want to avoid a flickering and unstable flame as this will support the soot build-up and, therefore, black smoke and the blackening of the candle vessel.

To maintain a consistent flame, you want to ensure the wick is the correct length, and the candle is away from drafty or high-traffic areas where there is wind affecting the flame.

The Colors Of A Candle Flame

You will notice the flame of your candle producing different colors. Blue, dark orange and yellow are colors that are observed when you look at a candle flame. Let’s explore what these colors mean, why they change, and what is happening on an atomic level.

Candle Flame Colors And Their Meaning

Blue FlameSeen at the base of a flame. This is where hydrocarbon molecules vaporize and break apart into hydrogen and carbon atoms.
Dark Orange / Brown FlameSeen above the blue flame. Hardened carbon particles start to form aka soot.
Yellow FlameSeen at the top of the flame. The carbon ignites.

From this table, we can see that the flame color changes due to the temperature of the flame and what is occurring at an atomic level. We understand that these colors are all a part of the candle-burning process and we can understand what is happening to our candle when we observe the different colors appearing.

We could conclude that the more dark orange or brown flame there is, the more soot there is, so we may need to check if there is anything we can do to improve the condition of the candle. Therefore, when we see a yellow flame that would indicate a nicely burning candle that has a consistent flame and is completely combusting and is balanced.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Prevent My Wick From Going Black?

To prevent your candle wick from going black, the best thing to do is to buy or make a good quality candle, trim the wick on a regular basis and keep the candle away from drafty areas.

Is The Black Soot From My Candle Wick Dangerous?

The soot that is formed on a candle wick from the combustion process is not dangerous and is not a health concern due to the low amount produced.

Final Words

To conclude, it is normal for your candle wick to turn black due to the combustion process. However, there are ways you can reduce the amount of soot created in the candle by maintaining your wick and creating a great quality candle.

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