Why Is My Candle Wick Curling (Mushrooming)?

Everyone wants their candle to stand upright while it burns as they relax in its soothing light. However, there are times when you will notice that your wick has curled over. Why does this happen? And what can you do about it?

Mushroom curling or mushrooming occurs due to an oversized wick that gives the flame more wax than it can handle. It may also be due to the type of wick; coreless wicks are credited for providing slight curling.

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Wick curling is not ideal and is the result of various reasons. If you want to know more about these issues, continue reading because those days might come to an end.

Is Wick Mushrooming Bad?

Mushrooming candle wick by itself isn’t really that bad, nor harmful. It is, however, not aesthetically pleasing. Even though wick mushrooming is not harmful, it may lead to other problems, such as candle soot, which comes with other problems. If you want to know more about candle soot, here is an article that I highly recommend. 

Why Is My Candle Wick Curling (Mushrooming)?

Mushrooming usually occurs when the amount of wax to be burned piles up, leading to a buildup of partially reduced substances and molecules. Consequently, a black cap at the end of the candle wick or a mushroomed wick is formed.

As a result, the particles in the air cannot make contact with the flame, which facilitates the combination of oxygen as part of the burning process. This incomplete combusted material then remains in place on the edge of the wick, forcing the formation of a carbon cap. 

Here are a couple of reasons to explain the occurrence of a carbon buildup.

  1. The size of the wick

The primary cause of your candle wick mushrooming is its unsuitable size as compared to the candle as a whole. This can occur when the wick is either too big or too small for the candle, but if you are a candle enthusiast, you must already be aware that the former is frequent. 

An oversized candlewick gives the flame more wax than it can handle. Thus, it is highly likely that the candle will not burn the way it should and start curling at its end. On the other hand, a candlewick of just the right size can ensure that the burn pool is adequate with respect to the diameter of the candle itself. Consequently, the height of the flame is in proportion to the wick and the candle. 

In addition, a wick that is too long for the candle can also create various other issues for you. For example, it could produce a considerably large flame, meaning the surface area of your favorite candle could get significantly heated. Remember, the presence of too much heat in your candle can force the fragrance to dissipate at a faster pace. This could eventually lead to a hot throw and expel soot. You do not want that, do you?

  1. The type of wick

Another reason why your candle wick could be mushrooming is its type. The improper size of your wick is one of the primary reasons for this happening, but more often than not, the type of candlewick used is responsible for its curling. For example, a string is not the same as a wick. You may use it as one, but it won’t work properly.

If your candle is made out of a zinc core wick, then you will notice that it stands upright while it burns. Meanwhile, coreless wicks are credited for providing slight curling of the candle wick during the burning process, ensuring no mushrooming at the end of the day. Where flat braided wicks are concerned, specifically those made out of cotton, they are said to be self-trimming. Consequently, such candle wicks bring about a reduction in mushrooming. 

  1. Burn time

Another reason why your candle wick could mushroom is its burn time. If you leave your candle burning overnight or for over 4 hours, you will notice that its wick will start to curl. While some candles may have longer burn times, they will eventually mushroom if left burning for more than the recommended time due to the collection of carbon on the candle’s wick.

  1. The length of the wick

If you do not take regular care of your candle wick, it will start to mushroom. Candle care involves frequent wick trimming to ensure that it sits perfectly with the wax. If your wick is not the right size and not trimmed perfectly, you are likely to witness your candle wick mushrooming.

  1. The wax and fragrance

Typically, any candle can eventually start to curl or mushroom due to carbon buildup at the edge. However, soy wax candles are reportedly the most prone to mushrooming. It all comes down to the type of wick being used and whether or not it bodes well with the kind of wax the candle is made out of.

On the other hand, if you are opting for heavy floral scents, be prepared to have your candle wick mushroom because of the numerous chemicals mixed in them. You may also have noticed that candles with heavy dye or scents often pile up at the edge of the wick. This prevents the flame from fully combusting, creating a buildup of carbon. 

Can Too Much Fragrance Oil Cause Mushrooming?

As aforementioned, heavy scents or greater concentration of fragrance oil consists of many chemicals. These chemicals are directly responsible for impairing the burning characteristics of all kinds of candles, irrespective of the type of wax and wick used. 

Simply put, a significant amount of fragrance oil will eventually hamper the candle’s flame and lead to wick mushrooming. 

Do All Types Of Wick Curl?

No one likes candles that curl, and the same goes for you. So, if you are looking to buy or make candles that have wicks that don’t curle, then you have several options to choose from. You may be wondering how this is possible. Well, some kinds of wicks are specifically designed to remain straight, which sometimes includes adding cores to ensure their upright position.

Candle wicks that have cores made out of zinc or tin usually do not mushroom. Moreover, hemp wicks, braided hemp wicks, as well as square braid wicks typically do not mushroom, unlike several other types of candle wicks. You may also want to remember that the greater the size of the wick, the lesser the probability of it curling. 

People may also use square-braid candle wicks instead of flat braid ones. This is primarily because their comparatively robust shape allows them to stand up straight and for a longer period of time. In addition, they are an excellent choice if you are buying or making candles made out of beeswax.

However, the bad news is that beeswax is not immune to wick curling. So, no one would blame you if you decided to opt for a candle with a different type of wax.

If you further want to ensure that your candle wick does not curl at one point or the other, you may want to look for something that has a core. It is the responsibility of the core to keep the candle wick in a vertical position no matter what. Furthermore, you can also find candles that are created from metal cores, like zinc and tin. Previously, lead was also used for this purpose, but it was eventually phased out to make way for other kinds of metal. 

You will further notice that it is not unusual to use paper and cotton cores, specifically for rigidity. Some people may even recommend that you use a hemp braid candle wick as it is fashioned out of firm material and is fully natural. 

Lastly, you can also consider candle wicks made out of wood. However, there are significant differences in their burn rate and quality; otherwise, they stay straight and consistent throughout the burning. Wood wicks are additionally known to bring a comforting sound to people’s experience of a candle burning.

Does Mushroom Wick Have Any Disadvantages Or Advantages?

This may be surprising for you to know, but there are various advantages to wick curling. They are as follows.

  1. Lesser possibility of them clogging.
  2. They are self-trimming.

However, where there are advantages of wick curling, there are also several disadvantages. Continue reading to find out more.

  1. The flame can become uneven.
  2. An uneven flame can cause the heat distribution to be out of balance.
  3. There are chances of the candle wick getting lost in the wax.

How Do You Stop Wick Mushrooming?

The main ways to stop your wick from curling are to either change its size or go for a different kind of candlewick altogether. Read further to find out more.

  1. Changing the size of the wick

The size of the wick is a factor in various issues that occur with your candle. Therefore, if you want to prevent the wick from mushrooming and have a pleasant experience with your candle, then you need to ensure that it is trimmed regularly. The recommended size for the wick is ¼ inches.

When you trim your wick to the minimum suggested length, you will eventually notice that it faces trouble when mushrooming. Consequently, you have no issues with the wick or the candle itself. 

  1. Bringing in another type of wick

If your current candlewick is a curling or mushrooming time and time again despite having fixed the number of issues that could arise, you can choose to go for a different type of wick, specifically a non-curling one. 

Several kinds of wicks do not curl, such as one with a zinc core or one made out of a tin.

How To Prevent Wick Mushrooming?

The first thing to do to ensure that your wick does not mushroom and give you a headache is to look for an alternative. This means that you either make a different kind of candlewick that does not curl or buy a non-curling one. 

In addition, you can also prevent mushrooming by ensuring that your candle burns in top-notch condition. For this, too, you will need to regularly trim the wick of your candle to make sure that it does not become uneven compared to the candle’s size. 

However, you cannot get just any wick trimmer. It is recommended that you opt for good quality ones. An average wick trimmer combines a pair of tongs and scissors with a long handle with a bent blade on edge. Its bent blade is why the wick is easily trimmed to the required height. 

Where the desired height of the wick is concerned, it does not always have to be ¼ inches. You are not even expected to measure it. Rather, trim it to a suitable length. Be sure to wait for enough time for the candle to cool before you start trimming. The long handle of the trimmer, on the other hand, can protect you from getting burnt by the hot wax. 


By now, you are well aware of a number of things that take place, leading to the wick of a candle curling or mushrooming. In addition, the tips above can help you prevent and stop your wick from mushrooming and keep it in top-notch condition. If you do not want to go through all this trouble, you can also buy or make your own candle at home with a wick that does not curl. Yes! It is entirely possible to do that and ensure a pleasant and calming candle-burning experience. Good luck!

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