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Wooden wick candles – what are they and how to use them properly

Wooden wick candles: what’s a wooden wick, what’s the difference between wooden and cotton one, and how to make a choice? I’ll discuss it today in the article below. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

Wooden wick vs. cotton wick

You most certainly know candles with a classic cotton wick – I bet you have at least one at home. But it’s also quite possible that you have heard about wooden wick candles; you probably have seen more of their photos online lately. They become more and more popular. Do you wonder why? And what’s the difference between cotton and wooden wick?

What are candle wicks made of?

raw candle wicks made of bio-cotton

Cotton wick

Cotton wick, no hard guess, is made of strings of braided cotton. Most of them are dipped in paraffin or other sorts of wax, in order to easily catch and keep the flame. A candlemaker can typically choose from ready-made wicks that are already dipped, trimmed, and placed in a foot, or buy a pure cotton string wick of a given length and dip it, cut it, and make finishing touches on their own. In Candle Time, in most cases, we choose raw wicks of biological cotton, because this way we can make sure that our wicks are fueled by soy wax, not paraffin. (note: it is true that in this small amount, the paraffin fumes are not big enough to have a meaningful impact, but it’s still petroleum-based emission into the air).

wooden wicks

Wooden wick

This type of wick, again no surprise, is made of a thin stripe of wood prepared in the right dimensions to serve as a candle wick. It can be made of many different trees and so its qualities can differ slightly. There are different opinions about dipping the wick in wax or other flammable solvents; some candle makers claim it’s necessary to dip the wooden wick to keep a good flame, and a few say it should not be done. From my experience and many tests I’ve conducted, it’s obvious that wooden wick requires a wax dip. It effectively improves the quality of the flame. And it’s especially useful when you can’t really predict what quality of wick you will get – as it’s a natural product and trees differ, even when you order always from the same supplier, each series can be a little bit different.

What’s the main difference between wooden and cotton wick?

image of burning candle with wooden wick
wooden wick candle

The main difference (besides the look) is in the scent quality. Because the wooden wick is wider, it has also a wider scent throw. They diffuse heat in a more rapid way into the wax, so more fragrance is released into the air. In simple words: the wooden wick smells stronger. It takes a shorter time to fully reveal the scent, while in the case of cotton wick candles, it can take 1,5 – 2 hours for the smell to unveil its full potential.

The other thing that some people find very appealing is the crackling sound that some sorts of wooden wicks produce. This sound – or the lack of it – depends on the sort and size of the wick. There are wooden wicks that crackle quite loud, and people say it reminds them of the sounds of a fireplace. There are ones that make only subtle sounds and others make no sound at all. I’ve tried out a few different sorts of them. At first, I enjoyed the loud ones most, but this didn’t last long as very soon I started to find them too distracting. I prefer the ones with the subtle crackle from time to time, or even best, no sound. But this, of course, is a matter of individual preferences.

Which sort of candle wick is most eco-friendly?

ready-made cotton wicks

The most eco-friendly candle wick is a wooden wick. Mostly because of production of cotton is less sustainable – it requires an enormous amount of water to make a small quantity of it. Can you imagine that it takes more than 20,000 liters of water to produce just 1 kg of cotton? And you can make literally thousands of wooden wicks from one tree. It can also be easily controlled if the wood comes from responsible resources.

In general, the cotton wick itself can be made of bio cotton and come from responsible resources, but in a later stage of wick production it can be dipped in paraffin, and they can have additions of metals like zinc. This is not something you’d like.

How do you know which wick to choose?

Well, you don’t know until you try. Both kinds of wicks do their job. The best you can do is get yourself one candle with cotton and one with a wooden wick. Burn them apart, so you can also tell the difference in fragrances and their intensity. You may discover that you prefer a scent that is less strong, and more subtle. Then you will like the cotton wick candles more. If a stronger, more balanced scent appeals to you better, you’ll choose the wooden wick.

One more tip: consider a spot where you want to place your candle. If it’s a busy area of your home where people walk around causing gusts of air moving, the sensitive flame of the wooden wick can become pulsating or be blown out. Similarly with drafts. In this case, the cotton wick will be more useful. However, if you put your candle in a place that is relatively calm, in a corner of the room, on the table in the middle, in your bedroom, or toilet, you can choose the wooden wick, which will perform just great even in more spacious rooms. For a bathroom you may consider the cotton wick, because of humidity – there’s quite a chance that you’ll want to burn the candle to your shower or hot bath, and steam is not good for the wooden wick. Getting damp can effectively ruin it.

And if you think that wooden wick candle care is demanding or complicated, then you must have heard some mean rumors 😉 In the paragraph below you will see how easy it is, and how little effort it takes.

Wooden wick candle care

Trim your wick

A wooden wick is just as easy to maintain as a cotton one. Both need to be trimmed. The only difference is that cotton wick can be a bit longer, 5-6 mm (keep in mind that if you leave the wick too long, it will have a bigger and stronger flame, which means shorter life of your candle – it will burn out faster). The wooden wick needs to be really short. 3-4 mm will work well.

Keep the wick clean

You should keep the wick clean. It means that each time you light up your candle again, you should remove the black residue left after the previous burn. Most candle-oriented websites will tell you to buy a wick trimmer, but if it sounds too fancy, don’t worry: you don’t really need it. You can simply use your fingers to do it: turn the candle a bit to the side and grab the tip of the wick between your thumb and pointing finger. Give it a little bit of pressure and remove the loose top. Wipe your fingers with a tissue or wash them with soap.

Extra tip: you can use old nail clippers to trim the wick. It’s super easy and works just fine. You can also watch a short video here:

Simple tricks on how to keep a wooden wick short and clean

Now you see it’s not really much work 🙂

Additional questions?

I hope that the article above will be helpful for all candle lovers. If you still have any more questions about wooden wick candle care or need personal advice, feel free to contact us. You can fill out the contact form or send an email to

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