candle wick guide

Believe it or not, getting the correct wick size is the key to every successful candle! If you haven’t already, you will most likely find out that selecting the right size wick is very frustrating and time-consuming. This is where the testing, testing, and more testing, comes into play. It will help you tremendously if you keep a journal you can look back on for future formulas.

There are many factors that affect the size of the wick required to properly burn any candle but two that make the biggest difference. First is the type of wax (and brand) you are using. The second is the container (i.e. the size, depth, and style of the jars).

Below is a helpful guide to be used as a starting place.

Wick charts differ from each wick manufacturer. It’s really just a guessing game until you test them in your own formulas. Below are some basic guidelines you can find anywhere for a starting point. These are for a starting reference only and in no way work for everyone. Remember to keep notes of your own trials and formulations for future reference.

Here is a list of the wicks we currently sell at Scented Nest.

  1. Cotton
  2. Eco
  3. HTP
  4. Stabilo

Wick Tips

When beginning to make candles, try to envision the type of candle you may want to have in your house; strong scent, nice colors, no smoke or soot, and an overall safe clean burning candle.

Now try to envision the work needed to make this perfect candle. Some may say that all you need is some string, some wax, some scent, and some color, mix it all together and pour it into a container and let it sit then light it up. As you may or may not realize yet, it is not that simple. Below we will offer some basic tips to remember when making your candles.

All Soy Wax is Not Created Equal

There are many different types of waxes ranging from 100% Paraffin to 100% soy.

If the wax is paraffin derived it is most likely to contain several different waxes ranging in melt point and consistency. Each time another ingredient is added to a blend it will modify the way your candle will burn.

If the wax is derived from soy, palm, or other natural ingredients these too will most likely be blended with a variety of different natural ingredients to help modify its overall function. Try to know as much as possible about the wax that you are using; this will help the process of creating your candle.

Fragrance vs. Essential Oils

There is a distinct difference between synthetically made fragrances and essential oil. A well-made candle fragrance will go into your melted wax easily. If you see any separation after you pour and gently mix your fragrance this may be an indication that the fragrance is not compatible with wax.

Essential oil is a fragrance derived directly from its original source. These oils generally do not have any additional chemicals added. These oils can be very difficult to work with in candles due to their natural reactive properties. Try to know as much as possible about the fragrances that you are using. Test small samples thoroughly before making any large purchases.

Dyes and Colors

Dyes come in several forms: powder, liquid, flakes, and chips. Some dyes are comprised of both oil-soluble dyes and pigments.

Oil-soluble dyes, for the most part, go easily into waxes. Pigments however may not be as soluble. The pigment will add depth and richness to the color but may not be fully dissolved as it is generally suspended not dissolved. Colorants that are not fully dissolved in your wax will cause problems such as; bleeding, speckles, fading, and wick clogging. Try to know as much as possible about the dyes that you are using. What you know will help in the way you handle these colors. Many customers tell us they have found that mixing the dye with the fragrance considerably increases the solubility of the powder or liquid.


The wick’s ability to perform depends on the quality of the ingredients in the candle. It can only work well if it is fed with quality fuel. Most wicks have a difficult time overcoming certain ingredients that are supplied to them via wax, fragrance, and color. A wick is much like a straw – if something is blocking the straw you cannot get the liquid up.

There are many different types of wicks available. Each wick was originally created to serve a certain purpose. Flat braided wicks for pillars. Cotton and paper-type wicks for highly fragranced candles. Each wick can serve multiple purposes from its original concept. When trying to find the right wick, try not to rule out something that did not work previously during your development. If you have truly come up with your perfect-looking and smelling candle, there is a wick available that can make it burn perfectly too. Just take that time to test each wick available to you and remember the “golden rule” for candle making – test, test, test! and so on.

Whether you are making paraffin candles or natural candles each can be made to burn properly and cleanly if you just take the time. Know your ingredients, take the time necessary, and run several rounds of testing, lighting, and relighting multiple times. Remember, it is recommended that you test burn your candles 3-4 hours per burn and repeat this 5-6 times or to the completion of the candle before determining that you have chosen the correct wick.

Preparing Wicks

The candles used in these burn tests were made without the use of dyes (color) and 1.5 ounces per pound (or 9%) of fragrance oil. If you are using dye in your soy candles or using more than 1.5 ounces per pound of fragrance, there is a good chance you will need to move up a wick size or two. You will always need to do your own test burns to determine the appropriate wick for your combination. The challenge of selecting the right wick takes time and patience! The best way to find the right wick is to test each wick in the final candle formula chosen.

Once you have decided on the best formulation for your candle it is time to test for the appropriate wick type and size. Certain wicks may not burn as well as others depending on the final make-up of the candle. Be sure to test every candle for the appropriate and correct burn. Several different wick types for each size candle should be tested.

Sample Preparation:

  • Melt wax to 10 – 15 degrees above its melting point (refer to your wax supplier specifications).
  • Using a Wick Sticker, attached the wick to the bottom of the container.
  • Pre-heat the containers if necessary.
  • Mix in the dye (for powdered dyes, it is best to mix the dye into the fragrance before adding it to the soy wax).
  • Mix in the fragrance just before the soy wax is ready to pour.
  • Pour soy wax evenly into the container.
  • Allow candles to cool.
  • Add a second layer or “top-off” if necessary.
  • The candle should remain undisturbed for 24 to 38 hours before lighting. If you don’t have the time for the proper cure, at least let them sit undisturbed overnight! This allows for it to completely cool into its solid state. Curing for 48 hours will make for the ultimate cure for soy candles.

Test Burning:

  • Test burn every soy candle for a minimum of 3 to 4 hours each time.
  • The candle should sit for 4 to 5 hours between lighting.
  • Repeat 4 to 5 times, or to the end of the candle, before deciding which wick is best. Please note: Getting a candle to burn to the edge in the first 3-4 hours is not always the best way to judge how good a wick is. Too big a wick can lead to a poor burning candle that may smoke.
  • After your wick testing has been narrowed down to the “correct” size, several more candles should be produced under the same test conditions as before and then burned to their entirety to test for the same results.
  • Be sure to test the chosen wick in several different formulations (colors and fragrances).
  • Sometimes you may actually find more than one wick that performs well per candle type based on color and fragrance.

Cotton Core Wick Recommendations

You may need to increase the wick size for natural waxes and blends.

S330T Tealight
10-38C Tealight
28-24C Tealight 1-2″ Containers
32-24C 1-2″ Containers
34-40C 1-2″ Containers 2-3″ Containers
34-40 SPC 1-2″ Containers 2-3″ Containers
36-24-24C 2-3″ Containers
44-20-18C 2-3″ Containers
44-24-18C 2-3″ Containers
44-28-18C 3-4″ Containers
44-32-18C 3-4″ Containers
44-36-18C 3-4″ Containers
51-32-18C 3-4″ Containers
51-36-18C 3-4″+ Containers
60-44-18C 3-4″+ Containers
62-52-18C 3-4″+ Containers

ECO Wick Recommendations

Eco .2 Tealight
Eco .5 Tealight
Eco 1 Tealight 1-2″ Containers
Eco 2 1-2″ Containers
Eco 4 1-2″ Containers
Eco 6 2-3″ Containers
Eco 8 2-3″ Containers
Eco 10 2-3″ Containers
Eco 12 2-3″ Containers 3-4″+ Containers
Eco 14 3-4″+ Containers

HTP Wick Recommendations

You may need to increase wick size for natural waxes and blends.

HTP 13 Tealight
HTP 31 Tealight
HTP 41 1-2″ Containers
HTP 52 1-2″ Containers
HTP 62 1-2″ Containers
HTP 72 1-2″ Containers 2-3″ Containers
HTP 73 2-3″ Containers
HTP 83 2-3″ Containers
HTP 93 2-3″ Containers
HTP 104 2-3″ Containers
HTP 105 2-3″ Containers 3-4″+ Containers
HTP 126 3-4″+ Containers
HTP 1212 3-4″+ Containers
HTP 1312 3-4″+ Containers