General Wick Specs


Wick Tech Page - Pepperell Braiding Company (Textiles Since 1917)
This will be an ongoing endeavor. We will add data frequently to address concerns. We offer this information as a starting point. No warranties or guarantees are expressed or implied. The following is general information and is only intended as a starting point.

What candle wick to pick from  to start the testing process?
All wicks are made of ply's of cotton yarns. There are other types of wicking that use hemp or wool. Anything fibrous can be used to make a wick. For the most part candlewicks are made out of cotton yarns. The more ply's of yarn in the braid means a bigger wick, therefore a higher burn rate with a wider melt pool.  For example a wick braided on a 4 carrier braider would be half the size of a wick braided on an 8 carrier machine assuming the same yarn size was used on both. Numbering systems can be confusing. So to make things simple here is a generalized chart of Pepperell Braiding Company's candlewick numbering system.

Tubular Braided Cored Series (Cores: Paper, Cotton, Hemp, Zinc)

Approximate Melt Pool  Diameter Wick Series Relative Size
3/4" to 1" 807 Small
1" to 2" 838 Medium
2" 1200 Medium Plus
2" to 2-1/2" 1400 Large
2-1/2" to 4" 40032 Large Plus
4" to 5" 60048 Very Large

In general,  you would want to use the cored wicks for votives and container type candles and even some pillars. Use cotton and zinc cores for containers using low melt point waxes; hemp cores for vegetable based waxes; paper and zinc cores for votives and pillars with medium to high  melt point waxes. This is very general data. The best results are achieved by testing wicks in your blend of wax, dye and fragrance.

Tubular Coreless Series (Bleached - Bright White Color)-Tapers, Pillars, Novelties

Approximate Melt Pool  Diameter Wick Series Relative Size
NA 630 Small
NA 500 Medium
NA 360 Large
NA 200 Very Large
NA 130 Extra Large

In general, you would want to use coreless wicks for tapers, pillars and novelties.

Please note that the above information is just a starting point for testing. Wax melt points, viscosities, fragrances, dyes ALL HAVE AN EFFECT ON HOW A CANDLE BURNS !  All the above data is derived from burn tests in straight paraffin based wax.

What is a plaited wick ?
Also referred to as flat braided wicks. First designed in the 1700's these wicks curl to one side thus self consuming themselves by having the tip of the wick in the hottest part of the flame. They work great in gel (try our TG1808) and are superb for pillars and tapers. Since they are coreless, they don't work good in candles that generate deep melt pools like containers and votives in a glass votive cup.

Why do I get carbon balls ?
Too large of a wick. Go down a size or see if the manufacturer has the same yarn size in a tighter "pic" count also known gear pull-up ratio on a braiding machine.

Why trim a wick ?
A flame only needs so much fuel (aka wax). The wick is essentially the regulator. Too high, means too much fuel to the flame, thus soot. Our preference is a sharp even cut with sharp scissors to a height of 3mm.

Why a wire core ?
Believe it or not all the wire is for is to keep the wick upright in a deep melt pool typical of container candles made with low melt point wax. In earlier times lead was used because is was cheap and could easily be extruded. Lead was replaced by lead / zinc alloys then just zinc. Today zinc wire is available that is 98% zinc with the remaining 2% containing various elements like iron, antimony etc and a very small negligible trace of lead.  Also, The wire does not make a flame burn hotter! Cores of paper and hemp will work in relatively deep melt pools as a substitute for a zinc core.

Fragrance and dyes?
An often asked question is how much fragrance and dye for a certain type of wax. The answer comes from the wax, fragrance and dye manufacturers. They have what is typically known as "load" factors. They will tell you what the percentages are to mix.

What size wick tabs ?
The most typical wick tab size is a 15mm diameter tab with a 3mm neck. Some folks like the 20mm base because they "stand" a little better in a container type candle. Most folks working with gel prefer the 15mm diameter tabs with the 10mm safety neck. The longer neck prevents the gel from burning all the way to the bottom. We also have a self centering tab for votives that is great for those that don't want to keep tweaking the wick toward the center while the wax cools.

What wax for what type of candle ?
In general, here is what to use. 125 degree F melt point or less for container candles. 130+ to 150 degree F for votives and pillars. 150 degree F melt point and above for pillars, tapers and novelties. The above is just general ranges, but is a good starting point. The higher the melt point the more structural integrity the wax has. 

What temp to pour the wax at ?
In general we see no need to go much beyond 10 degree F above the melting point. A thermometer is a must. They are very inexpensive and are available at most hardware stores. Even better check with the wax manufacturer. Ask for a Material Safety Data Sheet.

Container Safety - Heat Retention ?
An often overlooked safety situation is the heat retention of certain container type candles. When testing a container candle make observations as to how hot the container is getting. Usually more heat is retained as the candle burns down to the middle and bottom of the container. Is the container getting so hot as to approach the flash point of the wax? Double wicking can also raise significant safety concerns. Two wicks can possibly generate enough heat to cause flashing. Again, test, test, test before you give your product away or sell it to the public.

Oil Candles. How are they generally made? aka Rock Candles
Indoor decorative oil candles are definitely in style. They usually are comprised of the following: A glass tube (either lab, instrumentation or Pyrex glass) or metal tube that holds a 1/16" to 1/8" diameter fiberglass wick. Fiberglass lasts indefinitely compared to cotton that will dry out over time and have its wicking capability degrade significantly. Also fiberglass does not burn. The glass  wick holder (tube) is set in a decorative bottle holding a clean high grade liquid paraffin fuel. You want to stick with the liquid paraffin because it has a high flash point which offers a good safety factor.  I have seen designs made from decorative bottles, drilled out rocks and even slate attached to various types of glassware. The following is some typical questions asked regarding the decorative style oil candles:

How do you adjust the flame on an oil / rock candle?
Before you slide the wick into the tube make sure it is cut evenly across the top. An irregular cut will cause smoking. Set the wick in the tube so it is even with the top of the tube. This will generate a clean burn. Having the wick set too high above the tube will cause smoking. It is similar to "flooding" a car engine, you are sending more fuel to the engine (flame) than it can burn. Therefore the excess passes through as black soot. This theory also applies to just about all oil type lamps and lanterns.

How long should the glass wick  tube be?
All the tube does is hold the wick. A longer tube does not improve wicking action. Some folks prefer longer tubes because they are making lamps that are rather high and use the longer tubes to make sure the wick makes it to the bottom of the vessel. Some folks put potpourri in mason jars and use a longer tube to "push" through the decorative objects that are set in the fluid part of the oil candle. Some buy longer tubes just for the looks.

Should I drill the hole for the  glass wick tube before I receive my order?
Answer is no. The reason is the glass stock tubing used to make the tubes can vary from 6 to 7mm outside diameter. It is best to wait for the tubes, measure, then drill the holes in whatever device you plan on making an oil candle out of.

Why Pyrex, lab or instrumentation glass and not regular glass?
You need a thermally stable glass that can take the heat whereas lower grades of glass will pop with slight temperature differentials. Its all about safety.

My bottle opening is larger than the flare on the glass tube !
The solution is to simply slide the tube into a brass collar or brass grommet or brass collar that will accommodate the larger opening.

Do you have small funnels to refill small decorative bottles?
Yes, we have small plastic funnels

My oil candle smokes!
There are many fuels on the market. Perhaps you have used a crude fuel meant for outdoors. Look for "cleaner - purer" brands.

Outdoor Patio Torches.
These devices usually consist of a steel cylindrical can type cylinder with a 1/2" to 3/4" round fiberglass wick. Some designs also employ cotton torch wicks. Depending on design, some manufacturers place a heat reflecting cone shield between the can and the wick. The wick is usually set about 1/2" above the wick holder. For the most part the wick should be set loosely in the can so air can move into the fuel tank as the torch burns. If the wick is set tight in the wick opening and there is no air vent for the fuel, a vacuum will be created in the can. You can tell if the fuel is not properly vented when the torch lights up strong and goes out for no apparent reason after 30 seconds or so.  This is the most common pitfall encountered when making patio torches. NOT venting the fuel, thus creating a vacuum in the can. More info on fiberglass.

The most common oil lamp problem for new designers. THE VACUUM PROBLEM !!!!!
If the wick is set tight in the wick opening and there is no air vent for the fuel, a vacuum will be created in the can. You can tell if the fuel is not properly vented when the torch lights up strong and goes out for no apparent reason after 30 seconds or so.  This is the most common pitfall encountered when making patio torches and rock candles. NOT venting the fuel, thus creating a vacuum in the can. More info on fiberglass.

How far will a patio torch wick effectively draw fuel?
In general, keep the can size in the 6" long-high range. There are other ways to increase draw, but in general keep it shallow. People looking to make long burning lamps/torches ought to consider wide base type designs as opposed to tall can type designs.

Fiberglass or cotton wicks?
Both work great, with an advantage going to the fiberglass because it will not burn (in-organic) itself like cotton (organic). Also the fiberglass is more durable and lasts longer. We manufacture a complete line of fiberglass and the round cotton CR-Knit series of wicking.

Paper patio torch wicks ?
Yes, we make paper patio torch wicks. These are usually meant for economy or disposable type torches. Paper being fibrous wicks quite well. They are usually one shot deals.

How should a patio torch perform ?
Our testing, AGAIN, using liquid paraffin, produced a flame in the 4" high range consuming somewhere around 11 grams of fuel per hour. The 1/2" diameter  wick was set 3/4" above the opening of the can. Torches for the most part are dirty to some degree and meant for outdoors only.

Can you make torches out of copper tubing ?
Yes, I have seen some very nicely made torches made out copper tubing and typical copper pipe reducers that you can buy at the local hardware store.

Safety for patio torch use !
Patio torches are for outdoors and should only be lit outdoors. Don't use volatile fuels like gasoline. Stick with the liquid paraffin. Test your new design in a isolated area with a fire extinguisher nearby.  Patio torches can throw off some large flames depending on how much wick is set above the wick opening.

Passive lubrication?
Often times it is advantageous to use a wick to draw a lubricant to moving parts on a machine. The wick feeds lubricant to the moving part from a reservoir. Another method is to pack a small lubricant tank with wicking especially  steamed wools or certain types of yarns to slow the flow from a lubricant tank via a drip hole. We supply numerous companies with a variety of wick materials that are used for lubrication.

Floating Candles
There are two types of floating candles. There are ones made of wax and the other uses vegetable based oils as the fuel source. The one we make is the vegetable based version. Essentially the original floating candle dates way back to the Roman Empire where corks with some sort of fiber or horse hair wick were inserted through the middle of the cork and  were floated in olive oil and lit as you would a regular candle. The principle is simple. The cork version has a hole in the middle to insert a wick. The cork and wick assembly are floated in an olive or other vegetable based oil then lit. The oil is drawn up from the bottom of the cork through the middle up to the flame. The oil is the fuel for the light. The other version is a plastic disk about 2-1/4" in diameter with an indentation in the middle to hold the wick. With the plastic disk version the oil actually skims over the top of the disk in very narrow channel grooves until the oil reaches the wick in the middle. In this case the oil is not drawn from the bottom of the disk but over the top through the grooves. The plastic disk can be washed and re-wicked for several uses. See Floating Candles for more information. From a safety point of view no matter what type of floating wick you use always use open top containers to dissipate heat. Don't use bowls or globes where the flame can go "under" the sides of the glass. You can also set a safety level for burning by filling the container with water to a certain level then pour the oil on top (they will separate) to a level deep enough to sustain the float.

Fragrance Wicks - Dispersion
The best wicks for fragrance dispersion are wicks that have been treated for extra absorbency. These types of wicks are very hydrophilic. Alternate short term wicks are made of paper or untreated lower grades of cotton yarns. Dispersion is related to the "lift" your fragrance has and the amount of "area" it is allowed to escape from. When designing a device for dispersion consider Pepperell Braiding's Wet Bulb and Fluid Wick line for testing.

Biodiesel Wicks
Pepperell Braiding Company has several new designs available for testing that work with new viscous type fuels. Samples are available for companies involved in these types of processes. Ask for BioWick™ or BioDieselWick™.

Several of our cotton tubular braids have been incorporated into moisture removal systems. We also have one of the best environmental filtration wicks called EnvroWick™ made of braided fiberglass yarns.

Wine Making Filtration Wick:
We even had one wine maker order our 3/4" round braided cotton (Hurricane Lamp Wick) to filter wine that had been fermented in one barrel via "siphon" into another barrel to remove the particulates.

Industrial Braids and Cords
In addition to wicks. We manufacture over 1000 different braids and cords using yarns of cotton, wool, hemp, synthetics and even elastic type materials. We are one of the leading manufactures of surgical mask cord. We knit, braid and weave.

Sterno Wicks
Our fiberglass line of wicking is often used for sterno can applications.

Knitted Wicks
Pepperell Braiding Company has been manufacturing knitted wicks for decades. This method works well in many applications with a variety of materials including cotton, paper, hemp, fiberglass and wool.

We manufacture braided, knitted and woven wicks. In continuous operation since 1917.

Copyright Pepperell Braiding Company 2006 All rights reserved.