How to Fix a Candle Wick

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Wicks in thick candles often drown in wax.
Image Credit: Liudmila Chernetska/iStock/GettyImages

Wicks get buried in candles for a number of reasons. For starters, the best length for the exposed part of the wick is about 1/4 inch. Any longer, the wick burns too fast; any shorter, it quickly becomes overwhelmed by melted wax. As for recovering a candle wick, the task is very different if the wax is melted or hardened. You can also replace the wick, if necessary.


Recovering a Wick From a Melted Candle

If a candle wick disappears while the wax is still melted or even pliable, the job of recovering it takes a few minutes. When the wick is still visible, a pair of needle nose pliers can fish it out. If the problem repeatedly occurs, hold the wick in place while the wax hardens. Candles that have high sides can drown the wick with excess wax. Trim the sides of such candles with scissors or a paring knife.


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Uncovering a Wick From a Hardened Candle

If the wick disappears underneath hardened wax, melt down the wax and pour off the excess. First, put the candle on a surface you don't mind getting messy. Use a lighter or hair dryer to soften the wax covering the wick. Next, pour off the excess wax until the wick is exposed. Once the wick's edge is visible, straighten it out and pull it up with a pair of needle-nose pliers.


Replacing a Candle Wick

You also can buy a wick at a craft store to replace the one that burns out or falls over repeatedly. This is a multi-step task you might want to reserve for an expensive candle or one with sentimental value. The type of wax out of which the candle is made influences the work required to replace the wick. Paraffin, the most commonly used candle wax, is very pliable. Palm wax is harder. Beeswax is sticky and can be messy.


You may be able to see the end of the wick at the bottom of the candle; look for a metal plate or sticker that peels off at the bottom. Use your needle-nose pliers to pull out the old wick. If necessary, carve a slightly wider hole in the bottom of the candle with a paring knife to thread the new wick through it.


Making Your Own Candle Wick

Make your own wick with a strand of butcher's twine or braided cotton thread. First, cut the cotton thread to the length you want the wick to be. If you have a small square of wax -- or a candle you no longer use -- melt it down in a heat-resistant bowl or container. Then, soak the string in the melted wax, pull it out with your pliers and let it harden.


Preventing Excessively Short Candle Wicks

Trim the wick with a candle wick trimmer, nail clippers or scissors each time you prepare to light the candle. Snip it back to between 1/8 inch and ¼ inch long. Take care to not cut the wick any shorter than that to avoid creating other problems.


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