As someone who is semi-obsessed with candles, I’m very interested in anything vaguely related to them. So, when a pair of candle wick trimmers entered the AC Silver inventory, it’s safe to say that they caught my attention. My mind was reeling with questions; how do you use them? What difference to they make to candle usage – if any? I needed to know!
And now I do know, and so I’m here to spread the word.
What is a Candle Wick Trimmer?
Let us walk before we can run, and start with the basics. A wick trimmer is quite literally an implement, similar to scissors, which can be used to cut (or trim) the wicks of candles.
History of the Wick Trimmer
Believe it or not, but the primary purpose of a candle is not to fill the house with the smell of ‘cotton dreams’ or ‘a child’s wish’ or any other absurdly named scent – shocking, I know. For thousands of years, a candle’s only purpose in life was to provide light, as the first electric light wasn’t invented until 1879.
At some point during those thousands of years, it was learned that the ideal length of the wick should be a ¼ inch – 1/8 inch. Enter: the wick trimmer. As you can see from our own wick trimmer (pictured above), the scissor shape is somewhat interrupted by the box-like shape part way along the blades. This main feature of the design is actually a ‘box’ tray, and its purpose is to collect the snipped wick, eliminating the possibility of it making a mess. The long length of the trimmers also meant that whoever was doing the trimming wasn’t in danger of being burned.
It has been suggested that wick trimmers have been used since the 15th Century, designed to promote slow and steady burning. Some have even claimed that it is possible to trim the wick without extinguishing the flame – very impressive indeed!
In the 20th Century, wick trimmers took on a whole new style. Instead of being the traditional scissor-like style, they became a sleeker, slimmer style. Typically, more ‘modern’ wick trimmers, have long, curved handles, making them more vertical to hold. This new design was likely introduced to match the new candle designs. Candles as we know them now come in varying different styles and sizes; essentially anything that can hold wax can be a candle, so wick trimmers like this are very handy for this reason.
Furthermore, the modern style of wick trimmers allows the user to trim the wicks of candles that have already been burned down a significant length. They are perhaps more pragmatic than aesthetic, but they do the job just fine!
How to Use a Wick Trimmer
Trimming the wick of your candle will give you a cleaner, brighter burn. In fact, untrimmed wicks are more likely to take on a mushroom-like form, which actually dulls and obscures the flame, not to mention the fact that your candle holder is more likely to get a burned carbon look to it if you don’t trim your wick.
Just as I’m sure you imagine, using a wick trimmer is much like using scissors.
– Make sure you hold them by the handles, keeping your hands a safe distance from the flame.
– Line the blades up with the wick, ensuring you’ll leave roughly between 1/4 and 1/8 of the wick remaining.
– Pull the blades closed, and ta da! A trimmed wick! You should be happy to find that the trimming has ended up in the box tray, and hopefully not on the floor or on your hair!
– Keep tabs on how full the box tray is, and remember to clean it out regularly in order to maintain an orderly set of wick trimmers!
The ideal is to trim a candle’s wick for every 4 hours that it burns, and especially to trim a new candle before lighting. Essentially, we should start as we mean to go on! Happy trimming!
Rachel Atkinson – Digital Assistant
Rachel is AC Silver's Digital Assistant helping the website and marketing team with many digital tasks including blog post creation and social media assignments.