Getting just the right wick is one of the trickiest things to do when making candles. Too big a wick and you get an enormous flame; too small a wick and the candle doesn't melt correctly. Most of us use our experience, our notes, and various online wick testing data bases to make estimates for what wick will work best with what wax and container. But here's a way to speed up the process, and waste less wax too! What is it?
Make your candle without a wick!
Yes! Make your candle without a wick. If it's a molded candle, like a pillar or a votive, that uses a wick pin, the rest is easy! If it's a container candle, or a molded candle that doesn't use a wick pin, you'll have to add a step -- take the finished wick-less candle, and, using a spare wick pin or a drill bit the same size in diameter as your wick (you can also use an ice pick or awl, but they have a tendency to make the hole too wide) make about a 1.5" (or so) hole down the center of the candle, where the wick should be.
Then, take your wick-less candle and stick a 2" (or so) piece of wick into the hole. To help keep it from slipping too far down into the hole, it helps to bend the very end of the wick a bit.
That's it. Light the candle and test the burn qualities. (Remember to TAKE NOTES!) If the wick is not quite right, just pull out the piece of wick and insert another one in its place. Note: After you've inserted the new wick, let the top of the candle re-harden.
If you've chosen the right wick and it burns well, great! If it's a wick pin candle, and the hole is already all the way through, pull out the piece of wick, push the wick pin through the hole to clear the hole out, and insert the proper wick as you normally would. If it's not a wick pinned candle, pull out the piece of wick, and either use your heated awl, ice pick or wick pin to make the hole go all the way through, or remelt the candle and wick it as you normally would.
This technique allows you to test several wicks in a container or mold without having to make a new candle every time!
Special Note: This testing method will get you a quick answer of whether you are in the ballpark with your wick choice or not. It is not meant to replace more thorough wick testing! After you find a wick that works, you will still need to make a whole candle and test it from top to bottom! Remember, that sometimes (especially with container candles) what works for the top half of the candle doesn't work for the bottom half. Visit the Candle and Soap Making Forum to discuss your questions, results or comments about this quick tip - and share other candle making tips!