Picking Wicks: Why We Decided On Cotton

Until a few years ago, we never considered what was in the wicks of the candles we purchased for our home.

Not that there’s any shame in that; between our manuscripts, meal prep, doing laundry before we run out of socks, and caring for our cats, we have a lot on our minds. To expect we’d also be thinking about candle wicks as casual consumers is more than anyone should have put on them.

Then we were gifted a candle that advertised its wick as zinc and lead free.

Excuse us, but was this candle trying to say there’s normally lead and zinc in candle wicks? To answer that question, we did some digging into what makes a clean, environmentally friendly wick. Here’s what we found.

  • Lead wicks are no longer used in candle making because they’re toxic, obviously. Lead was originally used because it helped keep the wick rigid and straight. Lead wicks also burned really well. One might think lead must have been banned in candles back in the 1950s, but lead wicks were only banned in the US in 2003. Yeah. Wow.
  • In the time since, zinc wicks have become the most common type of wick. Like lead, the wire core helps keep the wick straight and rigid. Zinc wicks also burn well, and they’re (allegedly) non-toxic. There are concerns that zinc may be harmful, but until the research is in, why would we risk it when we have other—renewable and cleaner—resources available? 
  • Wooden wicks create a crackling campfire quality and are also, naturally, burnable. The reason we don’t currently offer wooden wicks is because they’re three to four times more expensive than cotton wicks, and we felt like we could achieve our goal of using sustainable, renewable resources with cotton wicks instead. 
  • Unlike other wicks, cotton wicks do not have a core and are instead braided with a little paper for burn stability and rigidity. Our wicks are also primed with vegetable wax—rather than paraffin wax—so we’re truly 100% natural and renewable!  

Unsurprisingly, both wood and cotton are the most environmentally friendly wicks, and they’re what was used in candle making before someone got the bright idea of putting metals in candle wicks.

So, in a way, our cotton wicks appeal to a simpler, minimalistic approach to life.

Like we mentioned earlier, we’ve got enough to think about in our daily lives. Why complicate what’s in our candles too?

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