How To Make DIY Candle Wicks With Cotton String – 3 Ways

Did you know that you can make your own candle wicks with things you already have at home? In this tutorial I show you how to make DIY candle wicks with cotton string!

How To Make DIY Candle Wicks With Cotton String For Candles And DIY Oil Lamps

All you need for DIY candle wicks is cotton string! You can treat homemade candle wicks with oil or salt but even plain cotton string works perfectly as candle wick. Cotton string candle wicks burn for a long time with a steady flame that doesn’t soot.

By the way, you can use DIY candle wicks for homemade candles and DIY oil lamps.

Related: How To Make DIY Oil Lamps With Tin Cans

3 Ways How To Make DIY Candle Wicks With Cotton String

You’ll Need:

  • 100% cotton string
  • scissors
  • optional: vegetable oil or salt

What Material Should I Use For DIY Candle Wicks?

Use only string or yarn made of 100% cotton. I try to use string that is as natural as possible, i.e. unbleached and not dyed.

Instead of cotton, you can use other natural fibers as well such as linen, hemp or jute. However, don’t use wool because wool is naturally fire-retardant.

But cotton wicks are the most traditional wicks for tallow and wax candles: Cotton wicks have been used since the Middle Ages.

Related: How To Make Natural DIY Candle Wicks With Rushes

Candle Wick Thickness

Use thinner wicks for smaller candles and thicker wicks for larger candles. If the cotton string is too thin, crochet or braid together three cotton strings.

3 Ways How To Make DIY Candle Wicks With Cotton String Step By Step Tutorial Oil Salt

Plain Cotton String Candle Wicks

I tried three different ways to make DIY candle wicks. For the first one I used just plain cotton string.

Oil-Soaked Candle Wicks

Instead of plain cotton string, you can soak cotton wicks in vegetable oil or leftover cooking grease. It only takes a couple of minutes until the wick is soaked with oil. By the way, there’s no need to heat up the oil.

Salt-Treated Candle Wicks

Put the cotton wicks into a pot, cover with water and add 1 tbsp salt. Bring to a boil. Then remove the salt-treated candle wicks. And let the homemade candle wicks dry overnight. Salt stiffens candle wicks.

How To Make Homemade Candles With DIY Candle Wicks & DIY Candle Molds

How To Make Candles With DIY Candle Wicks

1. Melt Wax

You can use empty toilet paper rolls as DIY candle molds – they work perfectly!

Related: 3 Ways To Make DIY Candle Molds

Melt candle wax or old candle wax scraps over a water bath. I used leftover Christmas tree candles.

2. Center Wicks

While the wax hardens, it’s usually necessary to stabilize the DIY wicks. In the photo above, you can see how stiff the salt made the wick – I used one of the DIY salt-treated wicks to support the wick on the right.

Related: 6 Ways How To Make DIY Beeswax Candles

3. Remove Molds

After the wax is set, remove the toilet roll candle molds.

4. Trim Wicks

Trim the candle wicks with scissors if necessary.

DIY Candle Wicks – Burn Test

All three DIY candle wicks work – note the yellowish flame color of the salt-treated wick. My favorite DIY candle wicks are the plain cotton string and the oil-soaked wick. Both are easy to make and burn with a bright, steady flame.

As you can see, the salt-treated wick is more difficult to light. And salt-treated wicks soot in an oil lamp – a plain cotton string works much better.

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How To Make DIY Candle Wicks With Cotton String Oil Salt Treated Wicks

42 thoughts on “How To Make DIY Candle Wicks With Cotton String – 3 Ways

  1. Lina I was just telling my daughter the other day that we should find a way to make a wick for all the wax we have saved up. Your post is very timely!!

    1. The braid and crochet candle wicks in the pictures are actually not white but beige because I used unbleached cotton. I try to use cotton string that is as natural as possible (not bleached and not dyed) because treated wicks can release chemicals into the air when burned.

    2. Because some colours are toxic when burnt, and they all turn black when burnt, If you wasted a coloured look to a candy wick for sale appeal, I would dip the top of the wicks in a strongly coloured wax.

    1. Thank you! 🙂 I haven’t used it for bigger candles yet but I think it should work. Candles with a large diameter require a thicker wick so I’d braid together five or more strands.

  2. How long do you soak the cotton string in the oil and how long until you can use it? Just normal vegetable oil works?

    1. It takes just some seconds until the cotton string has soaked up the oil and you can use it immediately. And yes, normal vegetable oil works such as olive oil, sunflower oil …

  3. Did you use the metal tabs at bottom of candle wax? Sorry, I don’t know what they are called. Thanks for the info! Really helped…….Mechelle.

    1. I used cotton yarn for knitting or crocheting but it doesn’t matter what you use: You can even use shoe laces as long as it’s 100% cotton.

    1. No, wool doesn’t work because wool is naturally fire-retardant. But it probably works with other natural fibers instead of cotton, such as linen or rayon. But I haven’t tried it yet, I’ve only used cotton so far.

    1. I haven’t found enough information yet on whether wicks treated with borax are safe to use or emit toxins when burned. So I haven’t used borax to make candle wicks so far. But the candles burned well even without borax.

  4. First timer – just wondering if the oil soaked wick was soaked in oil then wax afterwards or just the oil alone? any tips would help!

    Thanks

  5. Hi
    So glad I dont have to buy wicks cos the size issue is mind boggling.. As you say if Medieval guys used string…so can we. Im using ordinary unbleached cotton string…But…how do I know whether to use one strand or twist 2 or braid 3 together? Im making pillar candles of about 45mm diameter /nearly 2 inch.
    Thanks 🙂

  6. Hi there
    Using regular cotton unbleached packing string in olive oil. How do i know whether to use one piece…or 2 braided….for a 45 mm ( nearly 2 inches ) diameter beeswax pillar candle please ? Trial and error ?

    1. I would unravel the packing sting and braid the strands together. Braided wicks are self-consuming (so no need to trim the wick) unlike twisted wicks. And thinner wicks are usually better, thicker wicks often soot. You can make a smaller test candle with the same diameter but only about 1/2″ high or so. Hope this helps! 🙂

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