Most candles, like tapers, votives, and ball candles, feature a single wick. But pillar candles, which are characterized by their wide bases, sometimes contain so much wax that one wick isn’t enough. These large candles often contain two wicks, 3 wicks, or more to ensure an even, full-bodied burn.
So when you’re looking for new candles to decorate your home or create a welcoming, memorable atmosphere on a special occasion, you don’t just need to think about color and style. The question of single-wick vs 3-wick candles is also a major factor.
To help you strike the perfect aesthetic note, let’s look at the main differences between single-wick and 3-wick candles.
How do candle wicks work?
Before we examine the differences multiple wicks can make, it helps to understand why they might be necessary in the first place.
Candle wicks work thanks to a quality called “capillarity”. This is the tendency for a liquid (like melted candle wax) in an absorbent material (like a candle wick) to rise or fall due to surface tension. When a lit wick melts the candle wax, that wax is absorbed into the wick and sent up to the top, where the flame uses it as fuel to continue burning.
The diameter and stiffness of the wick affects how brightly a candle burns and for how long. So the wick must be chosen to suit the size and wax type of the candle.
But for a wide candle like a pillar candle, the flame of a single wick isn’t enough to melt all of the wax. If you tried, the wick would simply burn down into the candle and make it hollow. That would leave you with a lot of wasted wax and no way to burn and enjoy it.
By putting multiple wicks in a candle, the manufacturer can ensure even heat distribution, which in turn gives you even melting of the wax. This is also why larger cylindrical candles often burn better with a triangle of 3 wicks rather than a line of two side-by-side. For scented candles, a 3-wick design also helps to release and spread the fragrance more effectively, filling your space with delightful, relaxing aromas.
Differences between single-wick and 3-wick candles
Strength and intensity
Unless the wick is particularly thick, single-wick candles tend to create a soft, subtle glow when lit. This adds a sense of calm and quiet to your space, which helps with relaxation. If you’re burning a scented candle, the single wick also ensures you won’t release an excess of the fragrance, which can become overwhelming in smaller spaces.
3-wick candles, on the other hand, provide multiple lights from a single source. While this doesn’t necessarily create a powerful, invigorating atmosphere like a roaring hearth, it does mean you’ll experience a brighter, bolder burn. It also allows a greater amount of fragrance to be released more quickly, helping to fill large rooms and even whole homes.
You might think that a 3-wick candle would burn more quickly than a single-wick candle (3 times more quickly to be precise). But thanks to the much greater quantity of wax in 3-wick candles, they often burn at the same rate or even slower than those with just one wick.
That said, the need to light and extinguish each of the 3 wicks individually makes it more likely that the candle will burn unevenly. To keep this from happening, it’s important to follow the advice of a candle care guide before, during, and after you burn your candles. Single-wick candles are also less likely to leave a mess after burning due to their smaller size and lesser volume of wax.
Cost and decorative appeal
Since 3-wick candles are larger than single-wick candles, they of course tend to be more expensive. However, they’re also a bolder statement that occupies more space on your tables, shelves, counters, or features compared to single-wick options like tapers, tealights, or ball candles.
Depending on your preferred style, you might find that you need multiple single-wick candles to fulfill the decorative role of one 3-wick candle. In these cases, you might actually find yourself saving money by choosing the larger, more expensive option.
Due to the size of 3-wick candles, they can be harder to move around and store. In a small home or office, that means it’s tricky to keep replacement 3-wick candles on hand for when the one you’re currently using burns out.
However, you can often buy 3-wick candles individually, whereas other candles tend to come in multiples. In our online store, for example, you can purchase either a 6” x 6” Contemporary 3-Wick Pillar Candle or a 12-box of 9” Taper Candles for around the same price. Depending on how many tapers you’ve used, you might find your spare candles taking up more or less space at different times.
Which type of candle is right for me?
As you might have already figured out, whether you should get single-wick candles or 3-wick candles is entirely a matter of preference.
Slimmer single-wick candles are an excellent way to add a sense of intimacy to your space or occasion. They make less mess thanks to their smaller flame and throw out a more controlled dose of scent when they’re fragranced. This makes them excellent for smaller spaces and quieter, romantic situations.
As for wider 3-wick candles, their multiple flames, brighter lights, and stronger scents are better for adding a touch of pep and energy. These are a bolder and more confident decorative option that fill any space with warmth and joy.
Perhaps more important than the type of candle you prefer is its quality. Visit our online store now to browse a wide range of smokeless, dripless, slow-burning premium handmade candles in more than 40 colors.