Cotton vs. Wood Wicks

Cotton vs. Wood Wicks

Karen DanielsonNovember 10, 2022

Standard cotton wicks vs. wood wicks. An important decision for any candle connoisseur, but which is actually right for you? If you're unsure, read on to explore the different wick pros and cons below.

Cotton vs. Wood

Cotton wicks are braided strands of cotton that are dipped in wax and compressed to hold their shape. Because they are dipped in wax and compressed, these are often lower cost and easier to maintain. 

Wood wicks are thin slabs of wood made specifically for candles. They create a beautiful crackling sound, but do require more attention and maintenance than standard cotton wicks. 

Lighting & Relighting

Cotton is perhaps the easiest to light wick around while wood wicks may take some additional finesse. 

Cotton wicks should be trimmed to 1/8", but the only real detriment to not trimming your wick is a build-up of carbon (black bulb on the top of your wick) and soot. If your wick is properly trimmed, you shouldn't see any soot in a 100% soy wax candle. 

For wood wicks, the lighting process can be a bit more tricky taking upwards of 2-3x to light the wick sometimes. Additionally, once the wick has been lit and is going to be re-lit, the candle does require more maintenance to free it from charred bits and make sure it is appropriately sized. If it isn't, keeping the wood lit will be a bit of a babysitting job. 

Scent Throw

Both wicks should have good scent throw, but wood wicks have just a slight advantage on this one. Because cotton wicks will light regardless of their length, people tend to forget to trim the wick down before burning. Longer wicks mean a hotter flame and burning off the candle scent faster. We can also see this when you burn a candle for a long period of time - the wick will become too long and start getting carbon build-up or throwing soot. 

To stay lit, wood wicks require proper maintenance and tend to be lower to the wax pool than cotton wicks. They also smolder as opposed to the flame you see with cotton wicks. The low smolder allows the wax to heat up (similar to a wax melt), releasing the scent as opposed to just burning it off. 

Burn Time

Wood wicks typically produce a lower, smoldering flame as opposed to cotton wicks which means your candle is being consumed more slowly, thus making it last longer. Candles with more than one wick burn faster than those with a single centered wick. However, if your cotton wick is trimmed appropriately and kept low, the burn time should not differ too greatly.


It's a tie here. Both our wood wicks as well as our cotton wicks contain all natural properties. The wood wicks we use are a single stick, as opposed to a double which eliminates the use of glues and adhesives to mount the two sticks together. Our wood wicks are also soaked in the all-organic fragrance oil as opposed to accelerators and adhesives some wood wicks can contain. 

Our cotton wicks are made of cotton and paper woven together into a tight braid and coated in the same 100% soy wax the candle is made from. No parrafin, toxins, lead, zinc or oil-based products are used to treat the wick. 

The Verdict

Ultimately, the main difference is preference on the atmosphere each wick casts off and maintenance. Maintaining a wood wick is much more involved than a cotton wick, but, if you can properly maintain a wood and cotton wick, it just comes down to preference of atmosphere. The wood wick has a less bright, more smoldering, crackling ambiance while the cotton wick has a brighter more traditional flame. If you don't mind maintaining your candle, a wood wick is a great option, but if you prefer minimal maintenance, the cotton wick is the way to go. 

For more information on how to maintain your wood wick, check out our FAQ page.