A candle without a wick is like a car without an engine – although it might look great from the outside, it’s just not going to work. Wicks are an essential part of any candle, and gel candles are no exception.
In fact, you need to be even more careful when choosing wicks for gel candles, as they can be more finicky than traditional wax candles. So, what kind of wicks should you use for gel candles?
When making gel candles, you should always use zinc-cored wicks. Unlike other types of wicks such as cotton, braided, or paper-cored, zinc-cored wicks will not sink into the gel while burning and will stand straight throughout the life of the candle. This makes for an even, consistent burn and a much better-looking candle.
Now that you know which wick to use for gel candles, you must have a plethora of follow-up questions. What exactly is a zinc-cored wick? Why can’t other wicks be used for gel candles? How can I make my gel candles burn even better? Let’s answer all of these questions and more below.
Why Are Zinc-Cored Wicks Used for Gel Candles?
Before getting into why zinc-cored wicks are exclusively used for gel candles, let’s first understand what a zinc-cored wick actually is.
A zinc-cored wick is, quite simply, a cotton-braided wick that has an inner core made with zinc metal. This zinc core gives the wick extra rigidity, and the cotton braiding provides good strength and support to the overall structure of the wick.
The zinc also acts as a heat conductor, helping to evenly distribute the heat from the flame throughout the wick.
There are two main reasons why we use them for gel candles:
1) They Don’t Sink into The Gel
When you burn a paraffin wax candle, it creates a small melting pool at the point of the flame. However, the remaining part of the candle below the flame stays relatively solid. This is not the case with gel candles.
Gel candles are made of a type of wax that is less solid at room temperature. This means that, when you light a gel candle, the entire candle becomes one big melting pool.
Cotton-braided wicks will move around or even sink into this pool and eventually extinguish the flame, whereas zinc-cored wicks will not. They will remain upright and anchored in place, allowing the gel candle to burn evenly and continuously.
2) They Increase the Candle’s Burn Time
Zinc-cored wicks, or any metal-cored wicks for that matter, produce a relatively cooler flame than other wicks. When you use them in candles with low melting points (such as gel candles), this results in a slower and more even burn.
This, in turn, increases the overall burn time of your candle. So not only will a zinc-cored wick keep your gel candle burning evenly, but it will also make it last longer!
What Other Types of Wicks Are There?
Now that you know all about zinc-cored wicks and why they’re the best choice for gel candles, let’s take a quick look at some of the other popular types of wicks that are out there.
- Cotton-Braided Wicks
As the name suggests, these wicks are made with cotton that is then braided into a wick to allow for better support. Technically, zinc-cored wicks are also cotton-braided, but they have the added benefit of a zinc core.
Cotton-braided wicks are the most common type of wick and can be used in both paraffin wax and beeswax candles. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to find, making them a popular choice among candlemakers.
- Wooden Wicks
Wooden wicks are exactly what they sound like – wicks made from wood. Some of the most popular wooden wicks are made from cherry, oak, birch, or maple. These wicks have a unique, crackling sound when they burn and their visual aesthetic far surpasses that of a regular wick. They also don’t “mushroom”, which is the term used for the black soot that builds upon the end of a wick after being burned.
However, wooden wicks are more expensive than other types of wicks and can be difficult to find – A single wooden wick can cost around $0.50, whereas cotton wicks only cost about $0.10 each. They also require special care when trimming them before each burn.
Fun Fact – Studies have shown that using wooden wicks will give you 35% more fragrance than cotton wicks. This is because wooden wicks will warm up your candle wax first (instead of directly burning it off like cotton wicks), which then results in a stronger scent throw. So, if you’re making scented candles, wooden wicks will help make the fragrance more potent!
- ECO Wicks
ECO wicks are made with natural, unbleached cotton and are free of any metal or synthetic materials. They are braided with thin paper filaments throughout, so they do not need a core to provide any additional support.
These wicks are considered to be the cleanest burning option on the market and they produce very little smoke and soot. Plus, it’s self-trimming! ECO wicks will curl inwards as they burn, which then snuffs out the flame on its own.
Although you can ECO Wicks with any type of candle, they work best with low-melting natural waxes such as soy wax.
What Is Trimming the Wick and Why Is It Important?
If you’re new to candle making, you might have heard the term “trimming the wick” being thrown around and you’re probably wondering what it means. Trimming the wick is simply the act of cutting off the blackened, charred part of the wick before each burn.
This is important for two reasons:
- It ensures that your candle will continue to burn evenly.
- It prevents the black soot from getting on the sides of your candle jar (or onto anything else for that matter).
If you don’t trim your wicks, it will eventually produce a larger flame and will start to consume your candle at a much faster rate. Not to mention, it’s just unsightly!
Here are a few tips on trimming your wicks:
- Always keep your wicks trimmed at 1/4 inch – any longer and your candle will produce a large flame, and any shorter and it will start to “drown” in the wax.
- While trimming, first extinguish the flame and let the candle come down to room temperature. This will make the wick easier to trim and will prevent you from accidentally burning yourself.
- Trim the wick every 3-4 hours of burn time. This way, you can extend your candle’s life to its maximum.
- Always use sharp scissors while trimming the wick, and never try to remove the “mushroom” part with your fingers. To make your life easier, just get a pair of wick trimmers. They will make your life a whole lot easier!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most common questions regarding wicks for gel candles:
Q1. Can you use wooden wicks for gel candles?
Although zinc-cored wicks are the best option when it comes to gel candles, you can also use wooden wicks if you can’t find any zinc-cored ones. Just keep in mind that wooden wicks tend to be more expensive and they require very high maintenance.
Q2. Can I use multiple wicks in the same candle?
Yes, you can use multiple wicks in the same candle, provided that the candle diameter is large enough to accommodate them. Just make sure that the wicks are evenly spaced out and that they are all the same size.
If you’re a candle maker and have been looking to get your hands on the best wicks for gel candles, we hope that you’ve found what you were looking for in this blog post!
Selecting the right wick for candles is just as important as choosing the right wax and fragrance, so don’t take it lightly. Keep experimenting until you find the perfect combination that works for you. And as always, happy candle-making!