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Florida Candle Wick Manufacturer Lights the Way

By FloridaMakes Network posted 12-22-2020 00:00


An assortment of lit candles.

America’s love of candles ignites an estimated $3.14 billion in annual retail sales. Kicking off with Black Friday, the months of November and December usher in a flurry of holidays including Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa. December accounts for nearly 35% of yearly candle sales. In Florida, a Pompano Beach-based manufacturer, Wicks Unlimited, makes the wicks that enables us to enjoy the aroma and flickering flame of our favorite candle.

“There is a science behind why people love candles,” says Wicks Unlimited Vice President Cory Rau, “and it’s the lighting of the wick—where the science comes in – that makes the magic of candlelight both compelling and relaxing.”

Staff looking at computer screen with heat map of a candle.

Wicks Unlimited, a division of Stimpson (the world’s leading manufacturer of standard and special eyelets, also based in Pompano Beach) and a longtime member of the South Florida Manufacturers Association, are international candle combustion specialists as well as the candle industry’s premier manufacturer and supplier of waxed wick-on-reels, wick clip assemblies, sustainers, and technical support. The wicks are created in a 280,000 sq. ft manufacturing facility, employing 30-35 people and using state-of-the-art automation.

“Our wicks are used in candle brands globally. If you’ve ever purchased a candle, chances are you’ve used one of our wicks,” says Bruce Campbell, Managing Director of Wicks Unlimited. “There are thousands of different wicks, and our company carries about 450 that we stock onsite. We’re experts at wax, cut, and tab, which makes the use of a candle possible.”

Wick Science

Staff testing the temperature of a lit candle.

“A cold candle is just a cold candle,” says Campbell, referring to a candle in its unlit state, “but it’s the engineering of the wick that drives the candle’s transformation from a solid to a liquid, and then to a gas. It’s a thermodynamic system and expert wick design and manufacturing is key to the integrity of a safe and quality candle.”

For Wicks Unlimited, it all begins with quality. As an ISO-certified manufacturer, Wicks Unlimited adheres to the highest international quality standards. They source a variety of wicks from all over the world, tailor the wicks to the customer’s specs, and ensures the final wick product is appropriate for the candlemaker’s design.

Which Wick is Which?

Various computer screens with heat maps of different candles.

A wick is not just a white piece of string in the middle of a candle. Did you know that there are thousands of different wicks? For manufacturers, the wick is often referred to as “the soul of the candle.”

“This is probably what is most surprising to people about wicks,” says Campbell. “What looks like just a piece of string, embodies all the same sciences as something much larger and more complex. Chemistry, physics, and thermodynamics are all parts of wick science. And the wicks all have nuanced differences in order to control the flame.”

Some of those differences include shape (round, flat, square); material (cotton, paper, cellulose, fiber), design construct (weaved or braided), and size (thick, thin etc.). Birthday candles use a different wick than tea lights, votive candles use different wicks than pillar candles. For every type of wick, the number of threads, the thickness, and cotton quality must be chosen. With stearin, the most common industrially made candle material, manufacturers require thicker wicks. Paraffin wax is soaked more easily, which allows a thinner wick. Beeswax candles require the thickest wicks.

“Candle formulation is infinite, and this is why Wicks Unlimited’s expertise helps the candle maker achieve wick-optimization,” says Campbell.

Connecting with Candles

Manufacturing warehouse of candles, with staff.

Candle sales are about much more than light and fragrance.

“Candles have become part of our lifestyle in the United States, “ says Campbell. “In Europe, for example, candles are considered more utilitarian. In the U.S. retail market, candles are akin to small works of art and add to décor. When lighted, it becomes something different altogether – it become experiential. When fragrance is emitted and the flame is flickering, this often brings up memories or creates ambience,” he said. “We surmise that because of COVID-19 and the quarantine, the uptick we experienced in candle sales were related to people spending more time at home and experiencing the value of what a candle delivers. Candles are complex, and we’re glad that through our wicks, we’re able to bring such simple joys into homes of all around the world.”

Wicks Unlimited is part of the FloridaMakes Network, for more information about them, please contact FloridaMakes’ Business Advisor Jay Hess at