What is the best wick for tallow candles?

What is the best wick for tallow candles?

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

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    Have you ever lit a candle and wondered why some seem to glow more beautifully than others? Believe it or not, the secret often lies in the wick. I'm Annie Gagné, and at The Tallow Company, our passion for traditional candle making is more than just a business – it's a journey back to nature and history.

    Our adventure started with a curiosity about how things were done in the past. It started with purchasing a quarter cow from a friend. We wanted to make the most of the animal so we took everything from nose to tail. Little did we know that we would be launching The Tallow Company not too long afterward with our own collection of tallow candles!

    This journey brought us into a time long before electric lights, where people relied on tallow candles to brighten their evenings. Tallow, a natural animal fat, was the go-to resource for creating light in homes. It's a practice that dates back centuries, but somehow got lost in the modern hustle.

    In this article, we're going to explore the essential role of the wick in candle making, especially when it comes to tallow candles. You'll learn not just about the wick's importance, but also how to choose the right one to ensure your candles burn evenly, brightly, and safely. So, let's dive into this enlightening world together and rediscover the art of making the perfect tallow candle.

    Understanding Tallow Candles

    What is the best wick for tallow candles?

    Tallow candles are making a comeback, and for good reasons! In a world where we're all trying to make more natural and eco-friendly choices, tallow candles stand out as a great option. They're made from animal fat, which is a natural, renewable resource. This makes them a favorite for people who want to avoid synthetic materials and reduce their environmental footprint.

    But why are tallow candles so different from the ones you buy at the store? The key difference is in the wax. Tallow is denser and burns differently than modern, artificial waxes. This unique quality gives tallow candles their charm, but it also means we need to think carefully about the kind of wick we use.

    The wick is crucial in candle making. It's not just a piece of string; it's what makes the candle burn properly. With tallow candles, the right wick ensures that the candle burns evenly and brightly, without wasting the wax or producing too much smoke.

    In today's world, where we're reconnecting with traditional practices, understanding the best wick for tallow candles is more than just a crafty skill – it's about embracing a sustainable and mindful way of living. So, as we rediscover the art of tallow candle making, let's dive into the importance of selecting the perfect wick to light up our homes naturally and beautifully.

    Types of Wicks Suitable for Tallow Candles

    Collection of tallow wicks

    Cotton Wicks

    Cotton wicks are a staple in candle making. They're easy to use and provide a steady, clean burn, making them a popular choice for tallow candles. However, their burn rate can vary with the density of tallow, requiring some trial and error.


    • Widely available and user-friendly.
    • Good absorbency for a consistent burn.
    • Versatile for various tallow candle sizes.


    • May burn too quickly in some tallow formulations.
    • Requires regular trimming to maintain optimal flame size.


    Cotton wicks are a solid, all-around choice for tallow candles. They work well in most situations but keep an eye on the burn rate and wick length for the best results.

    Wood Wicks

    Wood wicks offer a unique crackling sound and a rustic aesthetic, which can enhance the natural vibe of tallow candles. They burn slowly and evenly, but they might be harder to light and maintain in tallow's dense wax.


    • Creates a cozy, crackling sound.
    • Slow, even burning complements tallow's density.
    • Adds a visually appealing, rustic touch to candles.


    • Can be challenging to light and keep burning.
    • May not work well with harder tallow blends.


    Wood wicks are great for a sensory experience with tallow candles, offering both sound and sight. However, they might need more attention to ensure a consistent burn, especially in harder tallow blends.

    Hemp Wicks

    Hemp wicks are an eco-friendly option that burns at a lower temperature, making them suitable for tallow's melting point. They offer a steady burn but can be a bit harder to find.


    • Natural and sustainable option.
    • Low-temperature burn is ideal for tallow.
    • Provides a steady, consistent flame.


    • Less readily available than cotton or wood wicks.
    • Might not work as well with very dense tallow.


    Hemp wicks are a great match for tallow candles, especially if you're looking for an eco-friendly option. They're well-suited for tallow's properties, though availability can be an issue.

    Square Braided Wicks

    Square braided wicks are designed for a more consistent burn, making them a good choice for tallow candles. They're effective at reducing carbon buildup but may need more attention to wick sizing.


    • Good for a clean, consistent burn.
    • Reduces carbon buildup and smoking.
    • Works well with the density of tallow.


    • Sizing is crucial for optimal performance.
    • May not be as readily available as other types.


    Square braided wicks can be excellent for tallow candles, offering a clean and efficient burn. Proper sizing is key, so they might be better for those with some candle-making experience.

    Flat Wicks

    Flat wicks are the simplest and most affordable option, making them a great starting point for beginners. They're versatile but may not always match the burning characteristics of tallow perfectly.


    Affordable and easy to find.
    Simple to use, ideal for beginners.
    Versatile for different candle sizes.


    May not always burn evenly in denser tallow.
    Can require frequent trimming and maintenance.


    Flat wicks are a good entry-level choice for tallow candles, especially for those just starting out. They offer simplicity and affordability, though they may need more attention to achieve an even burn.

    Common Wick Problems and Solutions

    Candle making is a rewarding hobby, but sometimes you might run into a few hiccups, especially with wicks. Don't worry, though – most problems have simple solutions. Here, we'll cover some common issues with tallow candle wicks and how to fix them.

    Problem 1: Wick Burning Too Quickly

    If your wick is disappearing faster than your candle, it can be frustrating.

    Solution: This usually means the wick is too large for your candle. Try using a thinner wick. Remember, tallow burns differently than other waxes, so finding the right size might take a few tries. Be patient – you're learning something new with each attempt!

    Problem 2: Wick Drowning in Wax

    Sometimes, the wick can get overwhelmed by melting wax, making it hard to keep the flame alive.

    Solution: This often happens when the wick is too thin. Switch to a slightly thicker wick that can stand up to the density of tallow. It's all about balance, and a little trial and error will get you there.

    Problem 3: Uneven Burning

    Uneven burning, or tunneling, where the candle burns down the middle, leaving wax on the sides, is a common issue.

    Solution: This could be due to an improperly sized wick or uneven burning conditions. Make sure your wick is centered and your candle is in a draft-free area. Sometimes, the first burn is crucial. Let your candle burn long enough to melt the wax all the way to the edges.

    Problem 4: Excessive Smoking or Soot

    A smoking candle can be a sign of trouble, often turning what should be a relaxing experience into a concern.

    Solution: Excessive smoking can be due to a wick that's too long. Regularly trim your wick to about 1/4 inch before each burn. Also, ensure there's no draft disturbing the flame, as this can cause uneven burning and smoking.

    Problem 5: Wick Not Staying Lit

    It's disheartening when your candle's wick keeps going out.

    Solution: This might be because the wick is too short or the tallow is too dense around the wick. Gently scoop out a small amount of wax around the wick to give it some breathing room. Also, check if your wick is properly primed.

    Candle making, like any craft, comes with its learning curves. But remember, each problem you solve makes you a better candle maker. It's okay if things don't go perfectly the first time – or the second, or even the third. What matters is the joy and satisfaction you find in the process, and the warm, gentle light at the end of it. Keep experimenting, and you'll find the sweet spot for your perfect tallow candle.

    Tallow Candle Making Tips and Best Practices

    Crafting candles, especially with tallow, can be an enriching experience. It's important, though, to keep safety in mind during the candle-making process. Here are some key tips and practices to ensure your candle-making journey is not only creative but also safe.

    1. Keep a Clean and Organized Workspace

    A tidy workspace is crucial for safety when making candles. Keep your area free of clutter and any flammable materials. This reduces the risk of accidents and fires, ensuring a smoother candle-making process.

    2. Careful Handling of Hot Tallow

    Melting tallow requires heat, and it's important to handle it with care. Always use heat-resistant gloves and avoid any direct contact with the hot tallow to prevent burns. Additionally, use a thermometer to monitor the tallow's temperature to avoid overheating.

    3. Proper Ventilation

    When melting tallow or working with any candle scents, ensure your workspace is well-ventilated. This helps to avoid inhaling any fumes and keeps the air in your workspace fresh and safe.

    4. Secure Your Wicks Properly

    Ensuring that your wicks are properly secured and centered in your candles is important for both the quality of the candle and safety. A well-secured wick will prevent it from shifting or falling over during the candle-making process, which could lead to uneven burning later.

    5. Avoid Rushing

    Candle making is a process that shouldn't be rushed. Take your time, especially when pouring hot tallow into molds. Rushing can lead to spills or accidents, which can be dangerous with hot materials.

    6. Keep Water Away from Hot Wax

    Introducing water into hot wax can cause splattering, which can be a burn hazard. Ensure all your equipment is dry and avoid using water to cool down wax or clean up spills.

    7. Supervision Around Heat Sources

    If you're using a stove or any heat source to melt tallow, always supervise it. Unattended heat sources can quickly become fire hazards, especially in a crafting environment.

    8. Safe Storage of Materials

    Store your tallow, wicks, and any other candle-making materials in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or heat sources. Proper storage not only prolongs the life of your materials but also ensures they remain safe to use.


    Throughout this article, we've explored the nuances of tallow candles, from understanding their unique properties to choosing the right wick for optimal burning. We've also navigated through common wick problems and their solutions, and highlighted essential safety tips for a smooth candle-making process.

    Remember, each candle you make is not just a source of light; it's a reflection of a timeless craft, a blend of art and science. Whether you're a seasoned candle maker or just starting, the world of tallow candles offers a rich experience filled with learning and discovery.

    Make sure to stop by our shop to see all of all our tallow products and sign-up below to get 10% on your first purchase.

    Additional Resources

    - The History of Candle Making - Wikipedia

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