Do you trim your candle wicks? If not, you should start! Trimming your candle wicks is an important part of keeping your candles burning safely and evenly. Here’s why you should trim your candle wicks every time you light them.
In fact, I never really used to trim my candle wicks until I learned about the importance of it. With that being said, let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
Why Trim Candle Wicks
When you light a candle, the heat of the flame melts the wax near the wick. This liquid wax is then drawn up the wick by capillary action. The heat of the flame vaporizes the liquid wax (turns it into a hot gas) and starts to break down the hydrocarbons into molecules of hydrogen and carbon.
These vaporized molecules are drawn up into the flame, where they react with oxygen from the air to create heat, light, water vapor (H2O), and carbon dioxide (CO2).
1. Removing Charred Part
When you trim a candle wick, you’re removing that charred part that’s full of broken-down hydrocarbons.
You want to remove this part because it can contribute to soot formation. When there’s a lot of charred material on the wick, it can cause the flame to flicker and produce more soot.
Trimming the wick also helps to prevent the formation of a “mushroom” on the wick. This happens when the molten wax around the wick recedes faster than the wick can consume it. The extra wax then forms a little mound or mushroom shape around the wick.
If you don’t trim the wick, the flame will eventually start to touch this mound of wax and melt it. This can cause the candle flame to get bigger and could potentially start a fire.
2. Adjust Flame Height
Trimming the wick also allows you to adjust the height of the flame, which can help improve the performance of your candle.
A shorter wick will result in a smaller, more controlled flame; a longer wick will give you a taller flame. And, if your candles are smoking or sputtering, that’s usually a sign that the wick is too long and needs to be trimmed.
Ideally, the height of the flame should be between 1/2-inch to 1-inch.
3. Prevents Soot Buildup
Soot is a by-product of combustion and is composed of tiny carbon particles. It can be produced by anything that burns, including candles. When you burn a candle, soot is produced as the hydrocarbons in the wax vaporize and react with oxygen in the air.
If you don’t trim your candle wicks, soot can start to build up on the glass jar or container. When this happens, it’s not only unsightly, but it can also be dangerous. Inhaling soot can be harmful to your health, and it can also discolor your walls and ceilings.
4. Good Scent Throw
Scent throw is the strength of a candle’s fragrance. When you trim the wick, it allows the candle to burn more evenly, which in turn gives you a better scent throw.
You want a good scent throw so that you can enjoy the fragrance of your candle and fill the room with its scent. But, if the wick is too long or there’s too much soot buildup on the glass, it can inhibit the candle’s ability to give off a strong fragrance.
5. Even Burning
Trimming the wick also helps ensure that your candle burns evenly. What this means is that the wax around the wick melts at the same rate as the rest of the wax in the candle.
When the wick is too long, it can cause the candle to burn unevenly and create “tunnels.” This can cause your candle to burn for a shorter amount of time because all the wax isn’t being used.
How Often to Trim Candle Wicks?
How often you need to trim your candle wicks depends on how often you use them. If you burn your candles regularly, you’ll need to trim the wicks more frequently.
Ideally, you should trim your candle wicks every time you burn them. But, I know that’s not always possible. So, a good rule of thumb is to trim them every 3-4 burns.
If you don’t burn your candles often, you can get away with trimming them every 5-6 burns. But, it’s still a good idea to check them every time you burn them just to make sure the wicks are in good condition.
What Would Happen If You Don’t Trim Candle Wicks?
If you don’t trim your candle wicks, a few things can happen. We’ve touched on some of these already but I wanted to mention them again.
The first is that the flame can get too big and start to touch the wax around it. This can cause the candle to smoke and produce soot. In extreme cases, it could also cause a fire.
The second is that the candle can start to form a “mushroom” on the wick. This happens when the wax around the wick melts faster than the wick can consume it. The extra wax then forms a mound or mushroom shape around the wick.
The third is that the candle can start to tunnel. This happens when the wick is too long and isn’t trimmed frequently enough. The flame then starts to burn down the center of the candle, leaving wax around the sides of the glass untouched.
This can cause your candle to burn for a shorter amount of time because all the wax isn’t being used. It can also be dangerous if the flame starts to get too close to the sides of the glass.
So, those are a few reasons why you should trim your candle wicks! I hope this has helped you understand the importance of wick maintenance. Now that you know why to do it, be sure to make it a part of your Candle Care routine!
My name is Candice and I have always loved candles since I was a kid. I continue to buy candles and try out new candle brands to this day! I started this blog to share my love of candles so I’m glad you’re here and hope that my content helps you out in some way!