The Importance of Wicks and the Science Behind Candle Burning


Have you ever paused to consider how a candle really works?  What role does the wick play in the captivating dance of flickering flames?  In this article, I uncover the mysteries behind candle burning, explain the importance of maintaining wicks, and explore the best practices for achieving an ultimate candle burning experience.

How Candles Burn:

When you ignite a candle’s wick, the heat melts the wax within the wick and at the top of the candle.  Through capillary action, the liquid wax moves up the wick, gradually turning into vapour as it heats up.  This vapourised wax is what ultimately fuels the flame, emitting both light and fragrance into the surrounding space.

The Importance of Wick Trimming:

Maintaining the right wick length is crucial for the best candle burning experience.  If the wick is too long, it can supply excessive fuel to the flame, resulting in more smoke and soot.  Conversely, if the wick is too short, the molten wax will suffocate the flame, causing it to go out.  To prevent these issues, I recommend trimming the wick to approximately 5mm before lighting the candle.  This practice ensures an even burn and extends the candle’s lifespan.

Optimising Candle Burning:

To achieve optimal burning conditions, it is essential to allow a full melt pool form before extinguishing the flame.  A full melt pool occurs when the molten wax reaches the edges of the container.  The time needed for this varies depending on the candle’s size.  This practice prevents tunnelling, where the candle burns unevenly, leaving unused wax along the sides. It is particularly important during the initial burn as soy wax, in particular, has a memory effect.

Safe Flame Extinguishing:

When putting out a candle flame, several methods ensure safety and preserve the candle’s integrity.  Using a Wick Snuffer is one of the best options.  It prevents wax from being blown around and causing a mess.  Blowing out the flame directly can cause the wick to bend, leading to uneven melting and soot buildup on the container.

Another effective method involves using a Wick Dipper.  By gently dipping the wick into the molten wax, the flame can be extinguished without generating smoke or unpleasant odours.  After the flame is out, it is important to promptly remove the wick from the wax and straighten it to ensure even melting during subsequent burns.

Enhancing Visual Appeal:

Once you’ve finished using your wick trimmer, snuffer, and wick dipper, consider displaying them alongside your candles for an added touch of interior styling and visual elegance.


Understanding the science behind candle burning and the importance of wick maintenance allows you to optimise your candle burning experience.  By trimming the wick, ensuring the wax reaches the edges, and using safe extinguishing techniques, you can prolong the lifespan of your candles.  Embrace these practices to create a cosy and captivating ambiance in your living space.

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