Relationship Advice: You and Your Wood Wick Candles
Updated: Aug 29, 2019
That crackle tho! We love wooden wick candles; some sing to you like listening through a conk shell, some crackle and pop like a comforting campfire, others beautifully fizzle and extinguish themselves prematurely into a smoldering sad pool of melted wax. Wait What?!
If you've experienced this before, you're not alone. Countless [wo]man hours have been poured into testing and trials, R&D and reading to make the wooden wick candles that we've proudly added to our line. Along the road, we've ran into some unavoidable variables that happen during the burn process that will turn your relationship with your wooden wick candle into a frustrating battle between good and evil, a fabled journey of passion and determination, a saucy torrent of love and hate. But dry those eyes, you can to master the mysteries of Wooden Wick Candles and eventually what we've outlined below will become muscle memory so you too will be a Maven of the Match, Witch of the Wick, Defender of the Light. Consider this blog post a sort of relationship therapist between you and your beloved, smoldering, wooden wick goddess.
What we've done here is put together a list of our findings and some simple steps and rituals that can help you love wooden wick candles, whether it's one from our line or from the many lines out there that share the same basic building blocks for natural error.
When trimmed properly, we find that wood wicks reward you with less smoke, more burn time and a romantic crackle that make them our go-to candle in the studio. Follow these simple steps toward mastering wood wick candles.
First things first, it's a good time [and important] to invest in a stick lighter. Yes, these are super unromantic in any dreamy designer pinterest lifestyle; we'd suggest picking up one of these Minimalist Stick Lighters for feeling truly glamorous in all that you light on fire. I picture my beloved, most-stalkable instagrammers using these to light their candles and sage smudges at home. Why is it super important? Well it's all based on timing with these wicks as you'll see below. I've burnt many a finger trying to get the right amount of wood ignited, and good luck sticking your hand down into a deep double-wick candle with a match or lighter. It's akin to painting yourself into a corner... except dangerous and painful.
The entire life of your candle will be built on these first moments, the decisions you make and the environment you nurture it in. Maybe the best advice I can give is Always make sure your lit candle (regardless of the wick type) melts completely from wick to every side of its container the first time and every time you burn it. If you don't carve out enough time for your candle to melt completely across the top you'll be left with a scar on the surface. Like a scorn lover, you're candle will remember this neglect and spitefully favor this path, melting in smaller and smaller wax pools until it's created a tunnel through the center of your candle like a hole in your heart. All that waxy-scented goodness will be left as a reminder of what your relationship could have been. So Sad. This is really a good practice to live by for every burn, not just the first.
Next, you'll want to set the mood and create the right space with very little to absolutely zero drafts when you're relighting your wooden wick. The first time, it's not so bad if there's a small draft, the new wood will catch easily and can feed on itself long enough to catch the core wood on fire. But it will be difficult to keep the wick ablaze on subsequent relights if it's fighting a draft and struggling to capture enough core wood to stay alive.
Drafts also add oxygen and fan your flames. This will feed the fire and consumer your candle at a quicker rate. You may notice that candles left in drafty environments will have tall flames, long excessive burnt wicks, and may require more trimming to keep them cared for. Tall wicks not only consumer more wax, but draw more fragrance from your wax at a quicker rate. Which means subsequent burns will be less fragrant.
It's important to keep candles away from drafts, for soot reasons too. Consider using an enclosure like a hurricane lantern to keep them protected from wind.
If you can imagine for a second that this is like lighting an actual campfire, it makes more sense. Small, raw, dry kindling with fraying edges is easy to ignite and can feed on itself until it starts catching the rest of the wood ablaze. However, if you try to light a sooty, black, cold log, there isn't enough chemical energy to fuel a fire. It needs either super hot heat to get to new fresh wood within, extra time or an accelerant. Refrain from adding any additional accelerants to your candles though...all they need is a little extra love and like 10 seconds more ignition time...[flash back to a memory of mom, coffee can full of gasoline, a bonfire and no arm hair]...
So, here's the ultimate trick I've found when testing, relighting and troubleshooting.
Keep the lighter on the wood wick longer than you think is necessary. I'm talking an intense, 15-20 seconds longer than you would a normal cotton wick candle.
It sounds annoying and nuts, but it's necessary to add that needed heat, time and energy into the carbonized wick so your flame can feed on new wood. Like any good campfire it's a frustrating art and a meditative task that once you've mastered you'll be the talk of the party.
After multiple uses you'll begin to notice your wooden wick blackening, maybe the calm warm glowing ember has turned to an extremely tall flame. This is when candle wicks are ready to trim. Carbon will buildup at the top of your wick and start to smoke and create soot.
When not in use you may also notice that the blackened wick has split and curled in two directions. Observe how tall it is, if you've just had an epic and long 4-6 hour burn the night before, the wick may be an inch in height, this is a good time to trim it. Pinch off the brittle split portion of that tall wick (leaving about 1/4" left) and remove it from the container.
If the wick is difficult to pinch off with fingertips, we recommend using Nail Clippers to trim black wick down to 1/4" to expose new wood. Toenail clippers are sturdy, not curved like fingernail clippers and can reach into deeper containers for leverage to get them clipped.
If your wick is too short and unable to keep fire (after 15 intense seconds of lighter flame) we recommend carving out some wax around the wick, creating a level surface to the edges of the container.
If you've experienced this, it may not be your fault. Humidity and moisture also affect candles. While the wick will stay the same height, humidity can sneak into the molecular structure of your candle and 'grow' the wax upward consuming more of your wick and may even encase your wick entirely. Candles left in places like bathrooms should be capped with a lid to help prevent this from happening.
click the above pictures for a slide show recap how we light, relight and even salvage some of our wooden wick candles!
The standard cotton wicks that we're all used to are easy, they take 1 second to light, they stay lit and they supply us with easy, fool-proof candle use. While Wood Wicks make you work for it, they're akin to a journey up Everest, difficult and at times treacherous, they test your patience and ultimately [we think] they're more rewarding.
Read Next: Wooden Wicks vs Cotton Wicks
When trimmed properly, we find that wood wicks reward you with less smoke, more burn time and a romantic crackle that make them our go-to candle in the studio.
If you've gone through these motions, you'll soon master them... you've now reached a new level of candle addiction and mastery. A true test of your love for candles, wood wicks are not for the lighthearted, fair-weather candle lover... they are a lifestyle and a tribute to patience. And you should be proud of yourself.