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Interior Design
Candles

Do different candle wicks affect how fast candles burn?

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November 07, 2007 5:24PM

The rate at which a candle burns has little to do with the wick. It's all about the wax. When a candle is burning, what's actually on fire is the wax. Yes, the wick burns down along with the rest of the candle, but only the top of it is incinerated. The wick acts as, well, a wick. Liquid wax goes into the wick and up along its fibers by capillary action when a candle is burning. You are familiar with capillary action. That's where liquids, or the atoms or molecules of those liquids, climb around along or inside porous materials. Get a little drop of grease on a shirt, and soon there's a spot as big as a saucer,or at least it seems like it. (The size of the spot will be proportional to how much we like the shirt.) That's capillary action. The molten wax climbs up the wick and is burned when a candle is alight. There are different mixes of wax that permit longer burning, but that begets another question.