Candles are one of the most identifiable objects on Earth. Used for thousands of years as a lighting source, they are identified by their wax structures and wicks on top. Typically, candles are known to have 1 singular wick used to burn the candle down and produce lighting. However, throughout the years, the shape and design of candles have taken on various forms. This has posed the question, “Why do candles have multiple wicks?”
More specifically, multiple wick candles have emerged. Multiple wick candles help distribute enough heat to burn bigger candles. Because of the larger size, these candles cannot rely on a single wick to burn the wax properly or produce enough light or scent into the surrounding areas. Multiple wick candles also produce a bit more light due to their being more light source.
The wick is the most important part of a candle as it produces the light and scent as it burns down into the wax. Wicks are typically made from braided cotton. This material burns the best and is able to keep a steady flame among the wax. While this is the most common type of wick, other wick types have surfaced in recent years. These wick types can include: wood, cords, rolled up paper, etc. In commercial candles, cotton will always be the primary choice as it produces the best flame. This is primarily due to the curling of the cotton that reignites itself as it burns down.
Considering the importance of the wick, multiple wick candles are desired over single wick candles. From more light to sturdier construction, people feel they are more reliable than a single wick. Depending on the needs of someone, this might be true. From a practical standpoint, bigger candles can be more useful in producing more light. But honestly, the majority of candles today seem to be purchased for their scents over their ability to light a room. The more wicks there is the more scent that is distributed in a room.
What Does “Multiple” Wicks Actually Mean?
More wicks make for a better candle, however, what does “multiple” actually mean? Is there a limit to the number of wicks on a candle? Candles are most known for a single wick or a three-wick structure. The three-wick design is often spaced out among the candle in a triangular shape, creating sufficient space between the wicks. This sufficient spacing ensures the candles burn at a similar rate, melting the wax and releasing scents at the same time.
While three-wicks tend to be a popular choice, two or four wick choices have become more available. Candles can take on many shapes during their initial formation. This can range from circular to square to pillared. Square candles are where someone can expect to find two or four wicks. Once again, like the three-wick model, the two or four wicks are evenly spaced so that all burning and scent releasing is done at similar times.
If the wicks are too close together, it’s a larger flame, a bigger fire risk, and a puddled wax mess! If the wicks are too far apart, they might as well be separate candles. Generally, candle wicks will be spaced about 1 inch apart. This has shown to be the magical space allotted for proper and even burning.
What is the Proper Way to Put Out Candle Wicks?
What is the proper way to put out candle wicks? This is particularly important for multiple wick candles, as there is more flame being dealt with since it is generally a larger candle! Everyone knows to blow-out birthday candles, however, home decor candles used for scent or light do not operate in the same manner. Their wicks are longer and have larger flames.
Because of the larger and longer wicks, candles other than birthday candles should never just be blown-out. This poses a great risk of debris from the wick catching something nearby on fire. Instead, there are ways to extinguish the flame without causing any debris to leave the wick area. Below are the safest ways to put out candle wicks!
Safest Ways to Extinguish Candle Wick Flames
- Use the lid! – Mostly every candle comes with a lid, however, they are not all designed to safely put out a flame. Always ensure the lid is safe to use before using this method. Most lids will be made of metal or least they should be. Always use caution before placing the lid on the top of the candle. This method suffocates any flames and traps any rolling smoke from the suffocation of flames under the lid. It is important to never leave the candle unattended while the lid is on
- Use a candle wick dipper – Known as one of the safest ways to put out a wicked flame, a candle wick dipper is a great invention! It a small, narrow tool that serves to push the wick down into the pool of melted wax at the wick’s base. This instantly puts the flame out and does not produce any nasty smoke. There are plenty of D.I.Y. tricks out there to making homemade wick dippers without needing to purchase one. However, it is a great investment that can safely put out a candle wick!
- Use a candle bell or suffer – Perhaps the oldest method of putting out candle wicks, the candle bell or snuffer device is an effective way to get the job done. Dating back to 1776, these long metal sticks with a metal bell on the end were used to snuff out the flame. The bell on the end was perfectly sized to fit over a candle wick, smothering the flame. This method can produce some smoke that escapes the sides of the metal bell. However, some collectors may find the antique snuffers a prized gem to find!
These are the three most common ways to safely put out any flames on a candle’s wick. They should always be practiced with care and consideration to everything surrounding the area.
Are Multiple Wicks Better?
We should also ask ourselves, are multiple wicks better? What does “better” imply? Better could mean a variety of things, however, to directly relate it to the functionality of a candle, the answer is yes. More scent, more lighting, more atmosphere is created with a bigger number of wicks.
“Better” can also mean safer or healthier. Commercial candles have evolved over the years in an attempt to produce less smoke emission when putting them out as well as using more wholesome ingredients. These ingredients also align with the wicks themselves. Wicks are generally cotton now, which is the safest and most effective way for a wick to exist! When creating homemade candles, sometimes paper is used or even wood as a wick. The creation of a candle should always strive to use braided cotton as its wick.
While the wick is obviously the most important part of a candle, so is its wax. The wax that is used should be considered when thinking about whether more wicks are “better” for us. The wick has to work with the wax to burn it and emit the scents or lighting for a certain space. The lighting is produced by the wick itself. However, the scents that are emitted come directly from the wax that is being burned by the wick. What are some common candle ingredients? Below are the most common things that candles are produced from!
Common Things Candles are Produced From
- Paraffin wax – A byproduct of refining petroleum, this type is most common and least desired in candle materials.
- Beeswax – A byproduct of honey bee honey collecting, this type helps recycle leftover beeswax.
- Gel – A combination of polymer and mineral oil, this material is becoming more popular in the candle world
- Plant-based wax – A less common type of wax that some would consider, plant-based wax is a natural material for candles.
These wax bases really set forth how the candle will burn and each one may burn faster or slower than one another. Moreover, the materials a candle is made from will work together with multiple wicks to produce even burning.
How Do Candle Wicks Work?
Candles all over the world are lit every day and no one gives a second thought as to how they actually operate. There’s a bit more to the process than simply lighting the wick and walking away. Moreover, knowing how a candle work works will help put even more perspective on the overall question of “why do candles have multiple wicks?”.
Once again, candle wicks are commonly made from braided cotton. Cotton is known to curl under and reignite itself, keeping the flame burning. This is simple enough to grasp a hold on, but what else is there to the process? While the wicks are made of cotton, it might not be common knowledge that they are also usually dipped in a thin layer of wax. The very tip stays accessible for flame and when ignited, the cotton burning goes in a downward motion to the layer of wax. This, in turn, heats the wax, melting the wax around it and creating the pool at the base of the wick.
As the wick burns, the flame that stays above the wick as it shrinks also melts the candle wax that is within the radius of the wick. This, combined with the curling of the cotton to keep itself ignited, is what makes a candle wick and its wax operate together in perfect unison. As the wax melts, the scent of the wax is also released into the air, creating great smelling spaces where the candle is located.
Considering this is an open flame (said to get somewhere around 600 Degrees Celcius!), all caution should be taken when using candles and their wicks. Candles with multiple wicks do produce more heat and have more open flames. This should encourage people to practice even more when it comes to safety around candles. It is important to never leave a candle burning overnight or while out of the house. While this may seem obvious, what other safety tips are there for candles and their wicks?
Safety Tips for Using Candles
- Ensure the flame is out before leaving the room a candle is in!
- Never place candles with any number of wicks near curtains or fabric.
- Never place candles on small counters or end tables. They could easily be knocked off.
- Always put a candle out of reach of children or pets.
These might seem like common sense, however, the United States sees candle houses fires at least 16,000 times a year. Having a reminder of these simple actions ensures everyone is safe. While multiple wicks are preferred, these tips do apply to any number of wicked candles!