Dedicated to the education of the consumer about beeswax and beeswax candles.
Beeswax Candle Wicking
For hundreds of years beeswax taper candles were hand dipped using a single piece
of wicking for each pair of tapers. The wicking was nothing more than string made
of strands of fibers twisted together. A pair of tapers burned equally poor and
were susceptible to dripping due to the fact that the wicks stood straight and
required frequent trimming to keep the flame from getting too big. There were wick
trimming scissors especially made for this purpose which had little metal boxes on
one side to catch the cut piece of wick that was still burning when cut.
In the early 1800's braided wicking was introduced which revolutionized the candle
industry. The wick curled when burned which eliminated the need for trimming.
Square braided cotton wicking was specifically designed to be used in beeswax
candles. The only manufacturer of cotton wicking in North America is located in
Kentucky , U.S.A. The square braided cotton wicking is referred to as " bleached " .
This " whitening " process uses a salt solution. No peroxides or harsh chemicals are
used. Beeswax will burn cleanly with square braided cotton wicking , only if the beeswax
is cleaned properly. Dirt and honey are the two contaminants that clog the wicking and
can be easily removed by a simple settling technique that involves melting beeswax in a
tank/pot with soft water. The dirt will settle due to gravity and the honey will go into
solution with the water.
Square braided cotton wicking has a direction , which means only one way is up. There
is a " V " in the braid that is used to determine the direction. Upright in the candle
like the letter " V " . Square braided cotton wicking is also designed to curl while it
burns , which results in a self trimming wick when used in tealights , votives , tapers ,
and columns under 2" in diameter.
When a pair of tapers are hand dipped using a single piece of wicking , one candle has the
wick upright while the second candle has the wick upside down. This will result in the candles
burning at different rates , and the candle with the upside down wick is more likely to drip
and develop a " mushroom " or " carbon cap " as the dirt collects at the tip of the wick and
doesn't burn away cleanly.
Candlemakers who use clean beeswax are able to use cotton wicking in pillar candles with good
results, whilst other candlemakers who use beeswax that isn't clean use wicking made with a
coarse natural fiber in their pillar candles to compensate for dirty and lower grades of beeswax.
Oils in the natural fiber wicking turn the liquid pool of melted beeswax around the wick brown,
and give off an acrid/pungent smoke and odour when burned.
In this picture the candle on the left has the " natural fiber " wicking , and the candle
on the right has the cotton wicking. These two candles were made with naturally filtered ivory
beeswax and were burned side by side for the same length of time. The candle with the cotton
wicking has some discolouration while the candle with the " natural fiber " wicking has a lot
more discolouration. The only difference between the two candles is the type of wicking.
For info about square braided cotton wick please click here