How are wick assemblies made?

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At Candle Shack, we understand the importance of the humble wick.  This small piece of 'string' may seem to be just another component, but it is actually by far the most important component in your candle system.  Luckily for you, we are literally obsessed with making quality wick, as our contract manufacturing business supports some of the biggest and most demanding customers in the world.

All of our wick assemblies are produced at our contract manufacturing facility in Larbert, Scotland, using state of the art machinery which has been custom built to meet our exacting needs. 

Wax Coating

Many novice candle makers buy loose (unwaxed) wick, as they think this is cost effective or more 'craftlike'.  However, this is not usually a good idea. 

We recommend that you use pre-waxed wick with a high melt-point wax wherever possible, even if making vegetable wax candles, as the wicks are waxed at the correct tension for optimal burning.  This high melt-point wax will keep the wick upright during the burn and maintain consistent tension throughout the burn.

If you wax wicks at home, the results will most likely be less effective and will have more variation.  Variation is the enemy of every serious candle maker!

We sometimes get asked if our wicks are coated in soy wax.  This (in our opinion) is currently pointless, as the amount of wax involved is negligible and coating a wick in a low melt-point soy wax defeats the purpose of coating it in the first place.  

That said, if a vegetable wax with a high melt point could be created, that was not too brittle to withstand being wound onto a drum, then coating wicks with such a wax would be fine.  We, like others, continue to seek such a wax, so if you find one, please let us know :)

How are wick assemblies made

Wick assemblies are lengths of pre-waxed wick, cut to length and fitted with a steel sustainer.  They are made in a two stage process.

Stage 1:  Wick Waxing

The first stage of the process dips raw wick through a molten pool of wick wax then through 'sizing' dies several times.  During this coating and cooling process, the wick tension and wax temperature is carefully controlled to ensure that the wick is consistent.  The waxed wick is cooled and wound onto a wooden drum.  It can then be used on an automatic wick inserter, or cut into wick assemblies for hand wicking.

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Stage 2:  Wick Crimping and Cutting

The second stage utilises a wick cutting machine.  This system feeds a pre-determined length of waxed wick through a sustainer, crimps the sustainer to the wick and then cuts the assembly to length.  We generally supply wicks at 110mm long, as this meets most users needs and reduces waste, however, we can cut wicks at up to 270mm long if required.  This is subject to a minimum order quantity of 1,000 wicks per size.  Prices on Application via sales.

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Sustainer Types

There are several different types of sustainers in use today.  They are classified according to three main criteria:

  1. Diameter:  Typically 15mm or 20mm in diameter.  We only use 15mm sustainers.
  2. Hole Size:  This is the size of the hole that the wick is fed through.  We wax our wick to 2mm diameter and use 2.5mm sustainers for everything other than very large wicks and tea-light wicks.  Other suppliers use 3mm holes for everything.  This is ok for larger wicks, but can result in smaller wicks pulling out of the sustainer.
  3. Neck Length:  Most wick sustainers use a 3mm neck, but almost all of our wicks are made using long-neck sustainers which are >6mm tall.  These are more expensive, but we believe that they offer enhanced safety and can significantly decrease the likelihood of glass overheating in the final stages of the burn.

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