How Long Does It Take To Grow Wicks?

What are wicks?

Wicks are the loose, exposed hair found at the end of dreadlocks. They are called “wicks” because they often resemble the string wicks used in candles and oil lamps (

Wicks are formed when hair at the tip of a dreadlock does not fully lock together. This leaves some loose strands that stick out from the end of the dread. The wick is the section of unformed dread where the hair shaft remains in its natural state.

Wicks can be made from all hair types when forming dreadlocks. However, they are most commonly associated with kinky or tightly curled African hair textures. The coarseness and shrinkage of these hair types make it more difficult for the ends to fully lock together (

Wicks serve both stylistic and functional purposes for dreadlocks. Stylistically, they provide a unique, organic look and enable greater creativity and individuality with dread styles. Functionally, wicks can help prevent dreads from unraveling by sealing the loose ends.

Wick length considerations

The length of the wick is an important factor in candle making. The wick must be long enough to extend out of the melted wax pool as the candle burns. However, if the wick is too long, it may cause issues like sooting, tunneling, or an uneven burn. Generally, wicks range in length from 1″ to 3″ depending on the size and shape of the candle vessel.

For container candles, the most common wick lengths are:

  • Votives/tealights – 1″ to 1.25″ wicks
  • 3″ jars – 1.5″ to 2″ wicks
  • 6″ to 8″ jars – 2″ to 2.5″ wicks
  • Pillars 2″ to 3″ diameter x 3″ to 5″ tall – 2″ to 2.5″ wicks

According to Lonestar Candle Supply (, most votive and pillar candles use 1.5″ to 2″ wicks. For larger pillars and containers, wicks can be 2.5″ to 3″ long.

The wick length should be about .25″ to .5″ shorter than the height of the candle to prevent smoking as the candle burns down.

Wick growth rate factors

There are several key factors that influence the rate at which a wick will grow and lengthen over time. One of the most important is the fiber material used in the wick. Natural fibers like cotton tend to absorb wax at a faster rate compared to synthetic fibers like polyester [1]. Cotton has a more porous surface that allows wax to penetrate into the interior of the fiber. Polyester has a smoother surface that inhibits wax absorption.

The braiding method and tightness of the braid also impacts growth rate. A looser braid provides more surface area for wax to adhere to and speeds up lengthening. Tighter braids resist expansion more. The viscosity of the wax used is another consideration. Thinner waxes spread more quickly through the wick, while thicker waxes are absorbed at a slower pace [2]. Using a thinner wax can increase the rate of wick growth.

Typical wick growth timelines

The amount of time it takes for a wick to reach its full length depends on the material used. Here are some typical growth rate ranges for common wick materials:

Cotton: Cotton is a very fast-growing wick material. Most cotton wicks will reach their full length within 1-2 weeks.

Wood: Wood wicks tend to grow at a moderate pace. Expect wood wicks to reach their full length in 2-4 weeks.

Paper: Paper wicks are on the slower end of the spectrum. It usually takes 4-6 weeks for a paper wick to fully grow.

Reed: Natural reed wicks grow slowly and steadily. Plan for reed wicks to take 6-8 weeks to reach their maximum length.

Keep in mind that factors like wick thickness, braiding/twisting, and environmental conditions can impact growth rates. But in general, cotton grows the fastest while materials like reed and paper grow more slowly over a 1-2 month timeline.

Maximizing wick growth speed

wick growth setup

Proper care and maintenance are key to achieving optimal wick growth speed. Wicks should be trimmed regularly to remove any burnt or frayed ends, which can slow down wick action. According to the video tutorial by Wick maintenance (, wicks should be trimmed to 1⁄4 inch above the wax pool each time the candle is lit. This allows fresh, new wick to be exposed to the flame and prevents clogged, slower burning wicks.

It’s also important to keep wicks centered in the wax pool as the candle burns down. Wicks that lean to one side or touch the candle wall tend to curl and mushroom at the tip rather than burning cleanly. Centered wicks allow for even combustion and thus faster upward growth. Using a wick with the proper diameter for the candle diameter also maximizes wick speed by promoting a full, even melt pool rather than tunneling.

Lastly, wicks tailored for different wax types, melt points, and jar shapes will have varying plies and braiding resulting in the optimal capillary action for that candle. Matching the wick to the exact candle specifications provides the right wick speed and burn characteristics. With diligent wick maintenance and properly matched wicks, maximum wick growth speed can be attained.

Slowing wick growth

There are a few common issues that can slow down or inhibit wick growth in wicking beds. One problem is poor drainage or compacted soil, which reduces air circulation and causes the soil to become waterlogged. This lack of oxygen will slow or stop root growth. Uneven wicking can also leave some areas of the bed too dry, while other spots become oversaturated. This inconsistent moisture prevents roots from spreading effectively.

Another problem is salt build-up over time, which can damage roots and slow growth. Certain types of wicks are also more prone to algae growth, which will clog pores and restrict water flow. Finally, choosing plants not suited for wicking beds or incorrect wicking rates can stress plants and inhibit healthy root development.

To maximize growth, it’s important to ensure proper drainage, consistent moisture levels, suitable plants, and clean wicks. Slow wick growth indicates an underlying issue that should be addressed. According to this source, some common wicking bed problems like uneven wicking can be fixed by rewetting to redistribute moisture. But preventing issues like poor drainage requires careful setup and maintenance.

Specialty Wick Materials

While most modern candles use standard cotton or paper-based wicks, creative candle makers often experiment with more unique fibers for handmade or specialty candles. Some interesting options include:

Wood – Small wooden sticks or bamboo skewers can be used as simple wicks in container candles. Certain dense, non-resinous woods like birch or poplar work best. Wood wicks create a pleasant crackling sound as the wood burns down.1

Paper – Recycled paper, cardboard, or twisted tissue paper can make unusual wicks that are also eco-friendly. However, these may not burn as evenly as other materials.2

Rushes/Reeds – Dried plant stalks from rushes, cattails, bamboo and other water plants can be bundled as rustic looking wicks. These need to be very straight and dense.2

Cotton Rope/String – Using multiple strands of cotton yarn or thin rope creates a slow-burning wick. These are often braided for stability.3

More unusual wick materials like wood shavings, flower stems, or moss tend to have poor capillary properties. But creative candle makers enjoy experimenting with different natural fibers for unique looks and burn effects.

Wick growth for reuse

One common question candlemakers have is whether they can reuse the wicks from already burned candles. The short answer is yes, you can reuse candle wicks if done properly.

For wicks that have been partially burned, you can simply trim off the charred portion of the wick before reusing it. Make sure to remove any wax residue as well. Some people recommend gently rubbing the wick with a paper towel to clean it before placing it into a new candle.

However, there are a few considerations when reusing wicks:

  • Trim the wick to remove any frayed or charred fibers so it has a clean edge before placing into the new wax.
  • Avoid reusing wicks that are heavily saturated with scent oils, as this can affect wick performance.
  • Reuse wicks in candles with a similar wax, fragrance load, and diameter to the original.
  • Wicks can lose structural integrity after multiple uses, so reuse sparingly.

In general, natural fiber wicks like cotton can be reused more successfully than synthetic wicks. With proper precautions, regrowing and reusing wicks can be a great way to reduce waste and costs.

When to replace wicks

Knowing when to replace a wick is important for optimal candle performance. There are a few key signs that indicate it’s time for a new wick:

If the wick is too short, the flame will be small and struggle to melt the wax properly. This can lead to tunneling or poor wax pooling, with unmelted wax around the edges. As noted by Martha Stewart, “If the wick is too short, the flame will be too low in the wax pool, the candle will not burn efficiently, and the melted wax may harden before reaching the sides of the container.”[1]

Conversely, if the wick is too long, the flame may be too large and cause excessive smoking, sooting, or rapid wax depletion. The Armatage Candle Company explains that “If your wick is too long you’ll end up with a roaring fire instead of a gentle flame.”[2] The wick should be trimmed to 1⁄4 inch before lighting if appearing overly long.

It’s recommended to replace the wick when tunneling or poor wax pooling become problems that trimming cannot fix. Wicks in containers should be replaced every 15-20 hours of burn time. For candles like pillars and votives, wicks likely need replacement after each use.




The length of time it takes for wicks to grow fully depends on several factors. Key points to keep in mind include:

  • Wick materials like cotton, wood, and paper have different growth rates. Cotton is generally the fastest.
  • Thicker wicks take longer to grow than thinner wicks.
  • Regular trimming encourages wicks to grow longer more quickly.
  • Proper wick length is important for optimal burning. Too short and the candle won’t burn well, too long and it presents a fire hazard.
  • On average, expect candle wicks to reach an ideal length in 1-2 weeks with proper maintenance.

With the right wick material, trimming schedule, and growing conditions, you can achieve good wick length relatively quickly. But patience is required, as forcing the issue too fast can have negative consequences. Monitor your wicks regularly and trim when needed to encourage healthy, rapid growth.

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