Wood Wicks vs Cotton Wicks

Wood Wicks vs Cotton Wicks : Key Differences Between Them

There’s nothing like having a candle on a dinner table. No matter the occasion — casual, formal, or romantic — candles make it even more special.

If you’re looking to buy one to make your next occasion more special, wood and cotton wicks might come to your mind first. But which is better between wood wicks vs. cotton wicks?

For casual occasions, cotton wicks are best. They’re easy to set up and cheap. But for special events, we’d recommend wood wick candles.

But how do these two types differ? Read along as we’ll cover each of them thoroughly in this post.

What Is a Wood Wick?

What Is a Wood Wick?

Wooden candle wicks are made out of small tubes of wood or thin slabs made exclusively for a candle. Their appearance is different in every candle, and the design of the wooden wick may also vary.

Some wooden wicks are circular made out of small tubes of wood which are usually small, while other candles use a wooden wick shaped like a thin slab.

Benefits of Wood Wick

Benefits of Wood Wick

Wood wicks are known for burning the wax more evenly compared to other candles. Let’s look at the benefits in detail —

1. Scent

Wooden wicks smell phenomenal compared to cotton wicks; the difference is enormous.

It’s hard to test the scent on wooden wicks, but if you can get the perfect scent, it can smell incredible. Wooden wick candles can spread fragrances to your room quickly and efficiently, making them smell great.

2. Burning

Wooden wicks can burn much longer than cotton wicks. They make a small smoldering horizontal flame making the fire burn slowly and making your candle last longer.

Since these wicks burn slowly, they have a nice crackling sound.

3. Sustainability

Wooden wicks are easily diverse and sustainable. Many companies make wood wicks with exclusive features making them relatively easy to sustain.

Disadvantages of Wood Wick

Though wood wicks pack a bunch of benefits, maintenance becomes a bit of a hassle. Here are the details –


Wooden wicks are much harder to maintain, and they’re constantly at risk of getting unlit.

It’s common to see candles burnt inappropriately. If a candle isn’t burnt correctly, it’ll only burn the wax surrounding the wick leaving a tunnel in the middle.

What Is a Cotton Wick?

What Is a Cotton Wick?

Cotton wicks for candles are made from cotton strands and dipped into wax. This makes them take a compressed shape suitable for a candle. These types of wicks look similar to wooden wicks with tubes of wood.

Benefits of Cotton Wicks

Benefits of Cotton Wicks

Cotton wicks win the game when it’s about easy maintenance, compared to wood wicks.

1. Maintenance

Cotton wicks are much easier to maintain compared to wooden wicks.

Both the cotton and wooden wicks have the chance of being burnt in a tunnel shape, but cotton wicks are super unlikely to have that issue. Cotton wicks light up faster as well; they’re overall easier to maintain.

2. Flexibility

Cotton wicks are incredibly versatile and have a lot of flexibility.

Scents can easily be tested and changed with these wicks. Cotton wicks are much better for testing fragrances. However, the scent may not be as rewarding.

Disadvantages of Cotton Wicks

Cotton wicks fall behind when it concerns scent and sustainability.

1. Scent

Cotton wicks don’t have a noticeable good smell compared to wooden wicks.

The fire is lit up longer horizontally on most cotton wicks, burning away most fragrance. This makes the smell of cotton wicks unnoticeable, even on high-quality scented cotton wick candles.

2. Sustainability

Cotton wicks aren’t as diverse as wood wicks for sustainability.

Most manufacturers don’t have organic or safe ways of making their cotton wick candles sustainable. Cotton wick candles don’t have much diversity other than the scent.

Comparing Wood Wicks vs Cotton Wicks

Wood wicks and cotton wicks don’t have a big difference other than maintenance, but let’s take a look at all of the differences —

1. Maintenance

Usually, wood wicks make a beautiful crackling sound. But wood wicks are usually more expensive, and they need more attention and care to use properly.

On the other hand, cotton wicks don’t have a crackling sound like wooden wicks, but they’re much easier to maintain. They’re significantly cheaper than wooden wicks too.

2. Lighting

Having to light your candles outdoors may be difficult with the wind, so if you want to use a wooden wick candle outdoors, consider using a hurricane glass.

If you’re lighting a wooden wick for the first time, it’s going to get lit almost instantly. However, if you’ve lit it up two or three times already, it may take up to 20 seconds for the wooden wick to catch fire.

For lighting, cotton wicks are almost instantly lit no matter how many times you have used them before. The longest time a cotton wick may take to light up is 3 seconds, making them work well outdoors.

3. Burning Conditions

Wooden wicks have next to no possibility to be lit up with a matchstick. Matches don’t have enough flame to light up a wooden wick. This is why stick lighters are recommended for wooden wicks.

Cotton wicks are extremely easy to light with matches, burning almost instantly. Even if you have a tiny matchstick, it’s going to be enough to light a cotton wick candle.

4. Trimming

It’s recommended to keep your candle wick at 1/4 inch to get the most out of your candle, and this is why trimming your wick is necessary. However, wooden and cotton wicks are trimmed in different ways.

Keep in mind that trimming will decrease the height of your flame, and your candle will emit more smoke. However, this isn’t a bad thing, as it’ll increase the amount of time your candle can burn.

Wood wicks can be trimmed by pinching the upper part of the wick, which seems to be splitting from the middle. You can do this with either your fingers or nail clippers.

On the flip side, cotton wicks are trimmed by pinching the delicate upper part of the wick, similar to wooden wicks. You can do this with your fingers, but a wick trimmer is helpful to keep everything clean and easy.

Are Cotton Wicks Better Than Wooden Wicks?

Are Cotton Wicks Better Than Wooden Wicks

The main difference between wood wicks and cotton wicks is maintenance and scent. Both are good, but it all comes down to personal preference.

Get a cotton wick candle if you want a quick-grab candle made for outdoor use. They’re much easier to maintain, but it comes at the cost of the scent and the sustainability.

However, if you want a premium-feeling candle, get wood wick candles instead. They sound good, have a great smell, and are diverse and sustainable.

The only downside to wood wick candles is the maintenance, as it takes more effort to use them ideally. But if you’re a perfectionist, wood wick candles are worth it even more.

It’s preferable to get a wood wick candle anyway since they last much longer. You have to spend some money for a hurricane glass if you’re using it outdoors and a stick lighter, but it’s worth it.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the best wax for wooden wicks?

Soy Wax is the best type of candle wax for wood wicks. It can make your candle have a beautiful crackling noise as well as a great smell. However, with a good wooden wick, all candle wax can crackle.

2. Why is my cotton wick smoking?

All wicks can smoke, whether you’re using a cotton wick or a wooden wick. This is caused when a long wick cannot get wax from the top, making the wick itself burn.

If a wick is too long, it can cause candle flame to get too long and flare, making smoke. Thankfully, there’s no danger even if your wicks are burning and emitting smoke, so there’s nothing to worry about.

3. Are wooden wicks healthy?

Wooden wicks are one of the healthiest wicks for a candle. 100% cotton wicks are healthy, but wooden wicks are much easier to find.

The scent on wooden wicks doesn’t have any health hazards either, so wooden wicks with Soy wax are the safest bet for a candle.

4. What wood is best for wooden wicks?

Balsa wood sticks are the best option for a wooden wick, as they’re incredibly affordable and soft. It’s long, lightweight, and they’re super popular.

Since they’re so popular, it’s almost guaranteed you can find them in a hobby store nearby.

5. Do candlewicks need to be waxed?

Even though pre-waxed wicks usually have better performance and smell much better, waxing wooden wicks is unnecessary. However, for cotton wicks, it’s recommended to wax them.

Cotton wicks don’t usually have a great smell anyway, and waxing can highly increase the fragrance and increase its burning time.

Final Words

If you’ve come to this point, you should be confident about which candle type to pick between wood wicks vs cotton wicks for your next special occasion. Both are great, but it’s just how much effort you’re willing to put into the experience.

As a final tip, we’d recommend recreating your cotton wick candle if it ends up tunneling. You can put everything back together with a new cotton wick and make another candle. That way, you’ll waste nothing.