Wick Trimming - We see instructions to do it on every candle warning label and care card - but exactly how important is it to trim your candle wicks?
I'm a "why" person. I need to know the reasoning behind things, so let's dive into the "why".
Why do we need to trim candle wicks?
Safety - Can a candle burn through adequately without it's wick being trimmed? Yes. It also results in a larger flame. The wick draws up melted wax as fuel to be burned and the longer the wick, the more fuel the flame has. A large flame results in incomplete combustion, which means that the burnt wax produces carbon, which causes soot. This soot doesn't just make your candle container black and messy, it is also released into the air. Sometimes when the wick is left untrimmed, it begins to curl over and can drop debris into the melting wax, leaving another added safety concern for a spreading flame.
Wasting Your Money - When the wick becomes too long, your candle's scent won't smell as strong as too much of the melted wax pool is being used too quickly. The melted wax is how the candle's fragrance evaporates and begins to waft throughout the room and fill it. Less melted wax = less scent. It can also prolong the life of your candle - by up to 24%. My favorite is that it helps keep your candle clean and free from soot and debris, looking like a beautiful home décor piece till the end.
How often do we need to trim candle wicks?
Each use -You should trim your candle's wick every time either before or after use. You should also trim it if you notice the flame is too large (more than half of an inch), if it is creating a large amount of smoke and soot, or if it has mushroomed out at the top (carbon build-up).
Never trim the wick when the candle is lit or while the wax is still hot or in a liquid state to reduce risk of injury or dropping wick trimmings into the melted wax pool. Always ensure that the candle has cooled down from previous burn time and the wax has returned to it's solid state.
Do I need special clippers to trim the candle wicks?
Absolutely not. - Wick Trimmers are designed with a bent shape and sharp blade to clip through the thick material with ease and catch any debris so it doesn't fall onto the candle. The shape also allows for it to reach easily into the container as your candle burns down. That is the appeal, but it's not necessary. You can also use scissors, nail clippers, or cutters. Nail clippers work great for wooden wicks!
How short do I need to trim the candle wicks?
Cotton Wicks - Aim for 1/4 inch above the wax.
Wooden Wicks - Aim for 1/8 inch above the wax.
If your candle has multiple wicks, be sure they are trimmed to the same height to maintain an even burn from each side.
It's important. Very important. Trim 'em every time!
Here's my 3 best practice tips I share with all who ask:
1. Trim wick to between 1/8-inch and 1/4-inch
Before burning your candle, ensure your wick is trimmed properly. For cotton wicks, you'll want to aim for 1/4 inch above the wax. For wooden wicks, aim for 1/8 inch above the wax.
Be sure to trim in between each burn to maintain that same flame throughout.
Why? First, trimmed wicks will give you a cleaner, brighter burn. Untrimmed wicks are a lot more likely to shape outwards and mushroom, which dulls and obscures the flame.
Second, excessively long wicks are a leading cause of those black, billowing smoke and staining that end up on your glass jar candles. Trimming the wick keeps the flame in control and prevents those marks from forming.
2. Let wax melt all the way across to prevent pitting
Once you've lit your candle, allow the candle to burn for 3-4 hours for the first burn. This will allow a full melt pool, which means the burned wax meets the edge.
Why? Whenever you fail to achieve full melt pool, this begins a process called tunneling. The wick starts to sink lower and lower, like a tunnel is forming right through the center of the candle. Eventually, the tunnel will grow so deep that it'll be tough to light the wick at all. More importantly, all that unmelted wax on the sides represent hours of lovely fragrance and burn time you bought but won't be able to enjoy and experience..
3. Please keep open flame away from drafts
Do your best to keep your burning candle away from fans, air conditioners, open windows, or heavily trafficked areas where people walk back and forth a lot. Moving air can disturb the flame, leading to even more unsightly black marks on the glass and can pose a fire hazard.