Conducting a candle wick burn test on a wood wick is essential to make sure your candle is going to burn properly. While burn tests are frequently used to first determine the proper wick size, there are other reasons you may want to conduct a burn test.

Reasons for a candle wick burn test

  • Make sure you are using the proper size of wick. Keep in mind if you are making the same candle, but in different fragrances, each fragrance will need to be tested as they will not all perform the same.
  • See what the burn time or total life cycle of the candle is.
  • Evaluate the fragrance throw. Remember, there is cold throw and hot throw and you will not know if your candle has good hot throw unless you burn the candle and evaluate it.
  • Monitor for any potential problems or issues. If a wick is too large for the candle, the flame will be too big and it could cause smoking or an even more  dangerous situation.  You want to fully test your candles in a controlled setting before selling them, gifting them or even using them yourself. Keep in mind that the testing we are recommending is for basic candle efficiency and safety.
  • If you are going to be selling your candles to large retailers they will require testing that will be performed in third party labs where the standards are very strict and many more factors than these will be evaluated.
  • Some include the length of time a wick smokes once it is put out, stability, secondary ignition, excessive smoke, overflow or guttering. The temperature of the glass (or vessel), flame height as well as many other factors are important.

It’s best to do as much of your own testing to save time and money should you be lucky enough to get your line into a big retailer!

9 Easy steps for a candle wick burn test

  1. Make sure your wooden wicks are trimmed to 1/8” – 3/16” (while cotton wicks are recommended to be ¼”, that is too long for a wooden wick and can cause performance issues).
  2. Place the candles on a heat resistant, even surface, at least 3-6” apart.
  3. Be sure there is no draft and that the temperature in the room is moderate.
  4. Light the candles and record the time – do not leave the candles unattended.
  5. After two hours: observe, record details, and take photos.  At this point, the melt pool should be reaching the edge of the container, but should not be too deep. If there is still quite a way to go to achieve a full diameter melt pool, the wick is likely too small (or the wick was too long when lit) and will result in tunneling. A new test after wicking up is suggested (unless the issue was too long of a wick, in which case try trimming it to the recommended length).
  6. Check to be sure the flame is not too high, smoking or that the candle is not too hot in general. If it is, put out the candle and conclude the test. In this case the wick is too large and the candle could pose a danger for the user.
  7. At this time (still at the 2 hour observation point) we like to record: diameter of burn pool, pool depth, flame height, smoke if any, level of crackle, and any additional notes. A spreadsheet is very helpful, remember Excel is your friend!
  8. After 4 hours: observe and record all of the same details again and gently put out the flame.  At this point, the melt pool should be all the way to the edge of the container and be approximately ½” deep. If there is carbon build-up, smoke, or a melt pool that is substantially deeper than the recommended ½”, the wick is likely too large and you will want to wick down and test again.
  9. Once the candle has fully cooled (several hours), repeat the process through the life of the candle. In each cycle you will notice changes in burn. Therefore it is very important to complete the full life testing to truly know how your candle will burn and what changes, if any, need to be made.

Order a sample kit today and get started with your wooden wick candle testing!


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