Trimming the wick is a major part of candle maintenance that’s all too often overlooked. It’s easy (and certainly doable) to just light your candle and go, but you won’t get the most out of your candle this way. Whether you own a cotton wick or a wooden wick candle, you should trim your candle wicks to prolong the life and performance of your candle.
Here are three specific reasons you should trim your candle wicks:
1. Ensures a Healthy Flame Height
A healthy flame height is typically ½-inch to 1-inch. However, when the wick is not trimmed, it can lead to a flame that is too tall (greater than one inch). Depending on where your candle is placed, this can increase the risk of a fire.
Too tall a flame will also burn your candle improperly; too much heat will be generated, and the wax will melt faster. This puts pressure on the wick to accelerate scent and wax vaporization, which leads us to reason number two.
2. Prevents Soot
Soot is released as a byproduct of incomplete combustion when too much wax is pulled through the wick. It looks like black puffs of smoke coming from your candle wick.
This isn’t a sign of imminent danger, but it is a sign that your candle wick is too tall. This can be easily fixed by trimming your wick down to the recommended height.
The National Candle Association clarifies soot further by saying that “the small amount of soot produced by a candle is the natural byproduct of incomplete combustion and is not considered a health concern. This is similar to the soot given off by kitchen toasters and cooking oils and is chemically different from the soot formed by the burning of diesel fuel, coal, or gasoline.”
While candle soot is harmless, it can be an eyesore. Soot can build up and leave black smoke stains around your candle vessel or, even worse, on nearby walls or items in your home. But this, too, can be remedied by wiping off the stains with a dry napkin or towel once the candle has cooled.
3. Achieve Proper Scent Throw
When your flame is too high, it creates more heat within your candle jar. This added heat will vaporize the essential and/or fragrance oils faster, which may lead to a weaker ‘scent throw’ in the later stages of your candle’s life cycle; you’re essentially burning off the fragrance too fast.
Keep your candle wick trimmed to ensure an even burn and consistent ‘scent throw’ throughout the life of your candle.
When Should I Trim the Candle Wick?
Some candle manufacturers recommend you trim your wick before the first burn, but we pre-trim all wicks at Spoken Flames, so they are good to go right out of the box.
We’ve done the work for you on your first burn, but we highly recommend trimming your candle wick before each subsequent burn.
Avoid trimming your candle wick immediately after extinguishing your candle. The candle jar will be too hot to touch, and moving the candle while the wax is still melted may cause the wax to disperse and settle unevenly.
What Height Should I Trim My Wick To?
At Spoken Flames, we make wooden wick candles in an all-natural coconut wax blend. Based on those two variables unique to our candles (not all candles are made the same), we recommend keeping your wooden wick trimmed to ¼-inch.
Different wick types and wax blends will have different recommendations, but the general consensus is to keep the wick, whether cotton or wooden wick, from ⅛-inch to ¼-inch tall.
Do I Need To Trim My Wick Before the First Burn?
Although Spoken Flames candles are pre-trimmed and ready to be lit right out of the box, we do notice that many cotton wick candles have wicks that arrive taller than they need to be. Contact your candle brand for instructions.
Again, not all candles are made the same, but regardless of the candle type, the key is to find the wick height that produces a healthy flame height.
When in doubt, light the candle and assess the flame after a few minutes.
I Trimmed My Wick, But the Flame Is Still Too Tall
Don’t be afraid to extinguish and re-trim your wick. It may take more than one try to trim the wick for a healthy flame height. If you’re experiencing a tall flame, simply extinguish the candle and trim the wick ever so slightly. Have patience. Your candles will burn up to 25% longer if you trim the wick as needed, so it will all be worth it!
Do I Need a Wick Trimmer to Trim the Candle Wick?
A wick trimmer is a long scissor-like device specifically designed to trim candle wicks. They are typically long to accommodate the depth of a candle jar. As your candle wax gets lower, the deeper you’ll need to reach to trim the wick.
You don’t necessarily need a wick trimmer to trim your wick. But it helps maintain the candle wick when the wick starts deeper in the jar.
You can also use nail clippers or your fingertips to remove the excess wick. Never touch a candle wick right after it’s been extinguished. You may use your fingertips once the candle has cooled, preferably before the next burn.
Final Two Tips
It’s normal to trim the wick to maintain a healthy flame height throughout the life of your candle. So tip one: always trim your wicks. Tip two: remember tip one.
There are more tips where those came from on our Candle Care page, but remember this: a healthy flame height leads to a steady burn and proper scent throw, with little to no soot.
Trim your wick to make your candle burn an amazing experience throughout its entire life cycle!