Candle-making can be a long process, but it doesn’t have to be complicated! I’ve gone over the types of wax you can melt to create the body of your candles in a previous blog post. Today, I’m going to talk all about the wicks of the candles.
Making your own wick requires trial and error and you can use a variety of materials to make them. If you are looking to create your own candles from scratch, you need to consider your wicks. You can buy pre-made candle wicks to insert into your wax, but if you want to make your own, this article is going to break down exactly how you can do this.
What is a Candle Wick?
A candle wick is the part of the candle that you set alight. They are essential to candle making. The type of material used to make the wick affects the way the candle burns and sometimes even the smell of the candle.
What Materials Do I Need?
Most wicks are made of cotton, but you can also use wood. All you need to make a cotton wick is a pair of scissors, a few cotton strings or strands of twine, a double boiler, wax, and pliers. Try to use a string that is as natural as possible (not dyed or bleached). If you want to use an alternative material, see the end of this article.
How to Make a Candle Wicks
If you don’t want to buy pre-made wicks, or you are feeling extra creative, try making your own wicks! It’s easy and a great way to add an even more personal touch to your candles. There are different methods you can use to make your own wicks. Let’s go through them.
Here are some simple steps to follow to make your own candle wick using Borax and salt. The first step to any of these methods is to gather your supplies. You will need the above materials as well as boric acid powder and salt. Be careful when using Borax as it can be toxic if ingested or inhaled.
Cut your twine to the necessary length
Once you have your materials together, use the scissors to cut the twine to the correct size. If you’re unsure how long you need your wick to be, use 5-6 inches of twine and you can always trim it down later if you need to.
For smaller candles, you can just use one. If you are making a larger candle, consider braiding three to five twine strands together. The thicker the candle, the more strands you will need.
Heat some water
Heat 300ml of water in a saucepan until it starts to simmer. Try not to let the water boil as this will be too hot for the Borax and string.
Add the Borax
Add in a tablespoon of salt and 3 tablespoons of Borax and stir into the water until they fully dissolve.
Soak the twine
Remove the pan from the heat source and soak the cotton twine in the solution. Ideally, the twine will be soaked overnight, as this will give the best flame on the candle, but if you don’t have this much time, leave it for at least 30 minutes.
Dry the twine
Leave your twine hanging to dry for two to three days. Place a sheet of foil below it to catch any excess solution dripping onto the floor.
Melt the candle wax
Take 50-100ml of candle wax and melt in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, here’s a quick breakdown of how to make your own DIY double boiler. For more information of this, check my article here. (add link to double boiler article)
Heat 3-5cm of water in a pan. Place a smaller pan or pot in the centre of the hot water before placing the wax into the smaller pan. Make sure to keep stirring the wax until it has fully melted and there are no lumps.
Soak the twine in wax
Once the wax has melted, carefully place the dried twine into the wax to coat for a few minutes. The twine does not necessarily have absorb the wax so longer soaking time is not required. Alternatively, you can gently dip the twine in and out of the wax several times using pliers or tongs.
You can make a wick without dipping the Borax-soaked twine into wax, but the wax helps to make the wick stiffer and burn more evenly.
Dry the twine Again
Hang the twine to dry until the wax has hardened. Don’t worry – this will not take another two to three days. It should only take five minutes. Make sure you have something underneath the twine to catch any excess wax that might drip off.
If you are making dipped candles, you don’t need to let the wick dry completely after the first dip. You can use plain or coloured wax and dip the wicks like you would with pre-made wicks.
Repeat this process
Repeat the dripping and drying of the string a couple more times until the coating of wax is thick. The string should now be stiff but should have a little bit of flexibility.
Insert into the candle
Place the wick carefully into your candle and you’re done!
How to Make a Candle Wick With Wood
Here are some simple steps to follow to make your own candle wick using wood. This time, you will need a small piece of balsa wood and some olive oil. You can use hard or soft woods, but balsa wood sticks seem to be the easiest and most affordable option. They can be found in most craft stores or online.
Wooden wicks burn with a clean flame and add a slightly wooden scent to your candle. If you don’t have olive oil, you can use coconut oil or avocado oil.
Cut the wood
Trim the balsa wood stick to the desired size using scissors. If you’re unsure how long your wick needs to be, cut it to around 2.5cm longer than your container size.
Soak the wood
Place the pieces of wood into a bowl and pour olive oil over them until they are fully coated. Leave to soak for 20-30 minutes. This step is important as it makes the wood more flammable and ensures it burns with a clean flame. The more oil that is absorbed by the wood, the brighter and more powerful the flame will be.
Dry the wood
Pat the wooden stick dry or leave it covered with paper towels for several minutes. It should feel slightly oily but should not leave oil on your hands when you hold it.
Attach to a wick tab
Place the wood carefully into a wood wick tab. These are small metal tabs that will sit at the bottom of the wick in the wax and holds the wood in place. Make sure to get the right type of tab as the ones that work for cotton or hemp wicks will not work for wooden wicks.
Insert into the candle
Melt your wax in the same way as you would with a cotton wick. Remember to trim the wick if you need to before placing it into your candle and you’re done!
Wick Making With Alternative Materials
If you don’t have cotton twine or wooden sticks, there are alternative materials you can use to make your wicks.
Instead of cotton twine, you can use other natural fibres, linen, hemp or jute. If you have an old set of shoestrings that you no longer need, even these could be used to make your wick.
Avoid using wool as this is a fire-retardant which is not great for a candle wick! Carious types of paper can also work as a wick such as regular copy paper, paper towels, or toilet paper.
If you want to get super creative, you could use toothpicks instead of balsa wood sticks. Keep in mind that toothpicks are short, so are only ideal for smaller candles.