All About Wicks
The wick is the heart of any candle, is supplies the fuel to the flame and when doing this correctly, allows a bright, clear flame with little or no soot and a warming glow.
There are many different types of wick on the market, each with a slightly different construction, and suited to different purposes. The construction, along with the size, give the ability to burn just about any wax, from straight paraffin wax, to soy and palm waxes, to gel wax and even left-over scrap waxes.
Flat braided wicks are made up of 3 sets of cotton filaments, plaited or 'braided' together to form a flat rope. They don't have a central core to keep them rigid, and tend to curl into the flame slightly, which allows for cleaner burning and self-trimming. They come in different sizes - depending on the number of cotton filaments used. This is often referred to as the 'ply' - the higher the ply, the more filaments uses and the more wax it can soak up and pass to the flame.
Flat braided wicks are most commonly used for moulded, pillar, taper and any other candle candle that doesn't need to be able to stand straight on it's own.
Round Wick (Directional)
This wick is tightly braided using tension threads. Uniquely, it has a capillary action that flows better in one direction, so it is classed as a 'directional wick'. It's difficult to judge by eye which should be the top and which should be the bottom once it's cut, so a knot is usually tied at the top of the cut piece for reference, but a piece of tape or a marker pen will do - a knot's just easier.
The RRD wick works well with more viscous waxes such as palm, soy, vegetable waxes, bees wax and gel waxes. It has a consistent rate of flow and is self trimming and works well with container candles or pillar candles.
Zinc Core Wick
Very popular in the USA, this wick is cotton braided around a central zinc metal core. The metal core gives the wick a more rigid structure, and allows it to stand upright on it's own, making it ideal for container and tea light candles which have a deeper melt pool in which flat braided wicks may droop or lean. It's use isn't just limited to container and tea light though, it works well with any type candle. The metal core also transmits heat from the flame down into the candle giving a larger burn pool for a given flame size.
Paper Cored Wick
Paper cored wick is constructed of a braided cotton jacket over an inner filament of paper. The paper cored wick don't burn as hot as the cotton, but they do offer rigidity making them popular for container, votive and tea light candles. this wick works well in paraffin, soy, vegetable and gel waxes, even if they have a heavy scent load.
Cotton Core Wick
Cotton core wick is constructed of tightly braided cotton strands around a central cotton core. It burns with a hot flame, making it ideal for soy and vegetable waxes, although it will work well with paraffin too.