Wooden Wicks vs Cotton Wicks – Understanding the difference

In candle making, selecting the correct wick is probably the second most important part of your process.  To select the ideal wick, you should first consider the kind of burn you are looking to achieve.  Wooden wicks and cotton wicks are two very different products that provide you with 2 different burn experiences.

It is vitally important to do your research before selecting a wick, as there are many options available, for specific waxes and vessel diameters.  Wicks are available in many sizes, and each size will result in a very specific burn pool, and fragrance throw properties.

We provide a guide for each of our wick types, where we have matched up the wick size with a jar diameter and we specify the ideal wicks for the desired wax.

But remember, TEST, TEST, TEST!

What is a Wood Wick?

Wood wicks are thin strips of wood specifically prepared to be used as a candlewick.

Most wood wicks have an additional thin strip of wood, a “booster” strip running the entire length of the wick.  This booster strip provides more burning power and heat for natural waxes such as soy wax.

In addition to the standard wood wick, with booster strip, cross wood wicks are also available – these are constructed with 2 thin pieces of wood

The natural makeup of the wood and its pores creates a truly unique experience, all of which adds to the allure of lighting a wooden wick candle.

Wooden wicks will typically burn a low, wide flame across your jar and smoulders over time.  This does not provide much illumination, due to the fact that the flame is not high enough.

This burn results in a longer burn time and a better scent throw.   The burn from a wooden wick can be described as “cleaner”, because there is a very little carbon build up and ash and no mushrooming as seen in cotton wicks.

wood wick art

Pro’s:

  • Wood Wicks give a better scent throw.
  • Wood Wicks burn evenly.
  • Wood Wicks provide a longer burn time.
  • Wood Wicks don’t mushroom, which means these will cause minimal debris, soot and carbon build-up. Cleaner more efficient burn quality.
  • Wood Wicks create a beautiful ambiance.
  • Wood Wicks are visually appealing, and luxurious in appearance too.

Con’s:

  • Wood Wicks are more expensive.
  • Wood Wicks take a bit longer to light.
  • Wood Wicks are easily extinguished by sudden movement or wind near the candle.
  • Wood Wicks require more maintenance and upkeep.

What is a Cotton Wick?

Cotton wicks are made with cotton fibres that are braided together and in most options, precoated with wax for use in candles.

There are different series of wicks available for a variety of waxes & wax blends, both natural and synthetic.

Testing is required to ensure the correct wick is found for your candle to perform optimally and safely.

Cotton wicks burn a tall, high flame, great for illumination.  This type of flame, accelerates the burn of your candle, allowing melt pool to achieved faster but also reduces the overall burn time a little.

Cotton wicks can also experience mushrooming, this occurs, when the wax of the candle is not able to burn fast enough for the selected wick. The wick then starts to absorb the wax,  that creates a build-up of carbon particles on the wick.  A simple fix for this is by selecting a smaller wick for the type of wax being used and the jar diameter.

cotton wick

Pro’s

  • More traditional wick with a lot of history and advise on how /what to test with what wax and performance they offer.
  • More options and sizes are available to meet you end goal.
  • Easy to use.
  • Very dependable and offers consistent results in tried and tested blends.
  • Cotton wicks are cheaper.
  • Can be used in all wax types.
  • Cotton Wicks provide more illumination

Con’s

  • Cotton wicks cannot stand on their own and require a wick place holder to keep the wick suspended whilst the wax cures.
  • More inconsistent burn pool due to the wax getting soft and the wick sometimes curving over. This affects how the candle burns and performs.
  • More choices, yes this is both a pro and a con. The more available the more testing needs to be done in order to find the wicks that work best for your application.
  • Cotton Wicks can burn faster, reducing your overall burn time a little.
  • Cotton Wicks can experience mushrooming.