When shopping for candles, most candle lovers focus on the scents, colors and shapes of the candles. Wicks get overlooked because, well, all you do is light them. I’ve never had anyone visit the shop and ogle over the wicks. While wicks may seem inconsequential, they actually have a large impact on your health!
Why We Avoid Wicks with Lead
Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time manufacturers came up with a solution to wimpy wicks that flattened themselves during the burning cycle. After much thought, someone wise in the way of finding solutions had the idea of using lead as the inner core of the wicks. It was used to keep the wick upright and rigid while it was burning. Consumers would be able to use the candles longer since the wicks would no longer settle into the cooling wax. What a wonderful idea! Not!
What manufacturers didn’t know at the time was that when these lead wicks when lit were releasing seven times the amount of lead that was deemed safe for children. This airborne lead poisoning caused all types of problems including developmental delays and learning difficulties in children. Children weren’t the only people being affected. Adult were found to have memory difficulties, cognitive declines and mood disorders. As a matter of fact, the use of lead in wicks was voluntarily discontinued back in the 1970s.
Although manufacturers voluntarily discontinued using lead wicks, they could still be found in candles that were imported from other countries, as well as a few rogue manufacturers looking to make a quick buck. To end the danger of wicks containing lead, they were officially banned in the United States back in 2003. Candle users were safe at last!
Safe unless they used older candles that were created before the candle enlightenment. So if you aren’t sure where (or when) your candles were manufactured, you should test the wick before burning it. If you rub the wick on a piece of clean white paper and you leave a pencil-like mark, your candle has a lead core and should be discarded for your health’s sake.
Wick Designs Today
So how do wicks stand up today? Some wicks contain a thin copper wire as a replacement for the lead. The copper not only keeps the wick standing tall, but it helps conduct heat deeper into the candle wax which helps melt harder waxes. An alternative to the metal core is to use paper and synthetic fibers.
At Custom Candle Co, our wicks are made out of braided cotton, wood and paper. We use flat braided cotton which makes them curl back into the flame, making them self consuming. An example of a candle that has that design is our spiral candles. Wider cotton wicks are often used for fragrant candles as the extra area allows the scents to flow easier.
Candles are beautiful to behold and delightful to smell but always remember safety first. So check those wicks before you light ‘em up!