Homemade candle wicks can be your best friend for all your wicking projects because making homemade candle wicks is not rocket science. Anyone can learn how to do it, and it can be just as rewarding and immersive as making different candle types at home. Who knows? In time, you might create a specialty line of custom candles that represent your unique style.
How to make a candle wick?
It’s common for first-time candlemakers to buy commercially prepared candle wicks by the meter.
While there is nothing wrong with just buying, you can further flex your independence and creativity by making your own at home. Conventional candle wicks are treated with borax, but you can also experiment with movable wicks and wooden wicks if you want to.
DIY Borax Candle Wicks
- Simmer 250 ml of water in a pot. Be sure just to let the water simmer. Don’t let the water reach a rolling boil.
- Take the simmered water and pour it into a nonreactive bowl. You can use either hard plastic or glass, not metal. Add three tablespoons of borax and one tablespoon of salt into the water. This water will be the primary treatment solution for your wicks.
Borax-treated candlewicks tend to produce less soot and ash. People observe that candles burn brighter when the wick is pre-treated.
Borax is a toxic substance. Keep your borax away from pets and children. Don’t let your kids inhale or ingest it, as it can produce harmful effects if ingested or inhaled.
- We recommend twine for homemade candle wicks. Find the heaviest butcher’s twine available for your homemade wicks. The length of the wick to be treated should correspond to the height of the container. The wick should always be higher than the container. If you don’t know precisely how long the container would be, pre-treat at least one foot of the heavy twine. You can resize the cord later by cutting with a pair of scissors.
- Twine is ideal as wicking material, but this doesn’t mean that you cannot use other twines or cords. Nearly every twine made of cotton can be used as candle wicks. The cord or twine should be durable and thick enough for the job of burning off the wax when the candle is in use.
To demonstrate how versatile wick-making is, you can also try using old shoelaces (remove the plastic tip first), torn pieces of cotton fabric, and embroidery cotton. Embroidery cotton is an excellent alternative as it comes in many thicknesses and colors, too.
- The candlewick’s borax treatment should ideally last for 24 hours. If you are strapped for time, the minimum soaking time is 20 minutes, but don’t expect great results.
If you plan to make a large number of candles, you need to pre-treat several feet of twine or cotton cord a day or two before you start working on the wax.
- After 24 hours, remove the twine from the solution with a pair of tweezers, or wear a pair of gloves if you want to forego the tweezers.
Hang the twine/s with ordinary hangers and allow to dry for at least three days—the drier the twine, the better the results. Never use wet or moist twine in candle making. The twine has to be bone dry before it’s ready for candle making.
Making Wooden Candle Wicks
It may come as a surprise to many that wooden candle wicks are common in candle making. Balsa craft sticks can be used for making wooden candlewicks.
These craft sticks are less than one inch in width, but they still have to be trimmed down to a more conventional size (refer to heavy butcher’s twine for the correct dimensions).
Balsa craft sticks come in different sizes: extra light, light, medium, heavy and extra heavy.
Extra light and light balsa craft sticks are ideal for making candle wicks. Craft stores typically offer 0.5” to 1” balsa craft sticks. These need to be pared down and then trimmed to the appropriate length for your candles.
- When making wicks, it’s always better to have more (a longer wick) than a shorter one. A longer wick can permanently be reduced. A wick that is too short for the container is a disaster.
- Get a mason jar or any container that can hold the balsa stick on the bottom ultimately. Pour room temperature olive oil onto the balsa stick to soak it thoroughly.
Soak the balsa stick for 20 to 60 minutes. While the balsa sticks will catch fire on their own, soaking them in olive oil allows for more efficient capillary action and brighter flames.
- After soaking the balsa sticks, roll them around on a piece of paper towel to remove the excess olive oil. You can also place the soaked stick on a plate covered with paper towels. Allow the sticks to dry for several minutes.
The balsa sticks should feel a little heavy after the soaking but they should not be dripping wet after dried. Check your hand after handling them. Do you see an oily residue on your palms? If you do, you need to dry the balsa sticks again.
- When the balsa sticks are sufficiently dried, attach wick tabs to one end of the sticks. The wick tab will help maintain the candle’s wooden wick position as the hot wax is poured.
Wooden wicks are as equally efficient as borax-treated cotton wicks. They burn just as bright. What balsa wood wicks bring to the equation is a nice, woody scent that will make the immediate environment warm and homey.
You may hear some additional crackling sounds as the wooden wick burns. These sounds are normal and are simply a sign that the wooden wick is doing what it’s supposed to do.
You can also shop our candle wicks for your candle-making project.
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