Waxed Vs. Unwaxed Candle Wicks

A waxed wick, aka a primed wick, is a wick that has a wax coating and possibly a chemical treatment.

An unwaxed wick, aka an unprimed wick, is just like it sounds: a wick with no wax coating or treatments.

Does this matter for the performance of your candle? When should you choose primed or unprimed wicks?

Let’s get into it.

Why Are Candle Wicks Waxed (Primed)?

When you prime a wick, you’re simply coating the wick with wax.

During this process, the air within the wick’s threads is replaced with wax, forming a protective layer around the wick.

Candle wicks are sold as pre-waxed (primed) because it adds many benefits that make the candle making life easier.

Candle Burn

Primed wicks will have a consistent, even burn.

Unwaxed wicks can have pockets of air within the threads of the wick. These pockets of air can disrupt the candle’s flame, leading to an unstable burn.

Also, without a layer of wax, the wick may run into problems maintaining the burn of the candle, which brings us to reliability…


Primed wicks are easier to light and are more reliable.

Since there is already fuel (wax) within the wick itself, you immediately have a strong flame when you light the candle.

The strong flame allows the candle to easily develop a melt pool and maintain fuel delivery to the flame throughout the lifecycle of the candle.

Wick Structure

The hardened layer of wax on the wick helps rigidity. It keeps the wick straight with an upright form.

There are many different wick types, with some more prone to absorbing moisture than others. The layer of wax on the wick can help protect itself and prevent the wick from absorbing moisture. 

Unwaxed Candle Wicks (Unprimed)

If primed wicks are so beneficial, why would anyone choose an unprimed wick?

Although there are many benefits to using waxed wicks, there are times when you may need to go in a different direction.

Have More Control Over Your Candle

Buying raw wicks gives you more control over your specific candle project.

You may have a candle design you’re working on that isn’t testing well with pre-waxed wicks.

In this case, raw unwaxed wicks can be a more suitable option.

You may decide to use the wick as it is unprimed, or you may choose to prime it yourself.

Depending on the wick manufacturer and how the wick is made, it’s possible to use a raw unwaxed wick and find that it perfectly meets the needs of your candle.

Custom Candle Designs

You also have the option of priming the wick yourself, and priming the wick yourself gives you flexibility and lets you choose exactly how you want to prime your wicks to get the best results for your specific candle design.

If you have a custom candle design that requires a custom wick length, you may have no choice but to start with an unprimed wick that you can tailor to fit your specific needs. 

Beware of Candle Performance

Remember how you prime the candle wick will determine how your candle burns, its’ stability, and if it meets safety requirements.

All these variables are why purchasing primed wicks is a much easier route.

Create Your Own Proprietary Wick

Once you’re more advanced, starting with a blank slate, raw wick, that you can prime yourself can have advantages.

A raw unwaxed wick can allow you to develop a custom wick system, differentiating the quality between your wicks and mass-produced wicks.


For beginner candle makers, I recommend sticking with the primed wicks.

When you’re just starting, it can be easy to overwhelm yourself with all the variables that go into candle making, so keep it as simple as possible.

But as you get more experienced and more adventurous in your candle-making journey, start looking into unprimed wicks where you can tailor the wick to fit the needs of your custom candle designs.