The wick of a candle is a name for a bundle of fibers that, when braided together, are used to draw oil or wax-up into a flame to be burned in a lamp or candle. The word comes from Anglo Saxon Wicca and Old English week or wick.
The wick is hands-down the most important element of a candle. After all, a candle without a wick is just a big block of wax. It acts as a fuel pump in all kinds of candles and supplies liquefied wax to the top, where the flame is produced. On that same note, a wick that has no wax is just a piece of string.
There are three main types of wicks:
(1) Cored wicks are just basic braided wicks with a piece of metal wire in the middle used for sturdiness and to create more heat when burning larger candles. I personally will never burn metal core wicks again after reading about the health hazards. Apparently, they release dangerous amounts of lead into the air and are very unsafe, especially for children.
(2) Flat-braided wicks are mainly used for making tapered candles. They look like a normal braided wick except squished flat.
(3) Square-braided wicks are mainly used for making block candles, which is any candle that is not tapered. In other words, for square or round candles.
To get started making a basic braided wick, take 3 strips of heavy cotton string or cotton yarn and soak them in a mixture of 1 tablespoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of boric acid and 1 cup of water for 12 hours. (Or if you prefer, you can use a mixture of turpentine, lime water and vinegar.) Hang them to dry. When dried, braid the three strands together to make a wick.
Be sure to cut the strips into lengths that are four to six inches longer than you want the candles to be. A pair or scissors or a knife will suffice as a trimming tool. The next step is to prime the wick or wicks. To do this, dip the wick or wicks into hot wax until the wick is completely saturated with wax. You will know when it is saturated because it will start to release bubbles.
(Use a small paperclip to dip them so as to not burn your fingers.) Remove them from the wax, pull them tight, and dip them into the water, then lay on wax paper. Dab the excess moisture off with a paper towel. Let them dry on the wax paper for at least 30 seconds. For a stiffer wick, it is recommended to repeat this step more than once. Primed wicks can be stored in a rolled-up newspaper.
Be very careful when using hot wax. At its boiling point, it is flammable. Never use water to put out a wax fire, as it will just spread the wax and thus spread the fire. Instead, use a fire extinguisher or baking soda to put out the fire.
Always use a double boiler when heating wax.
Always keep children and pets away from the candle making area.
Never pour hot wax down your sink. It will cool there and plug the pipes up.
Don’t leave hot wax unattended, even if in a double boiler.