The thickness of the wicks varies according to the diameter of the candles and the material of which they are made. The number of the cotton threads requisite to form a wick also varies according to their firmness. The yarn is composed of a slack-twisted cotton thread; No. 16 generally for plaited, and smaller, such as 8-12, for common wicks.
Index to the Thickness of Wicks.—The yarn employed is No. 16. For tallow candles, 8 to the lb., the wick contains 42 threads; 7 to the lb., 45 threads ; 6 to the lb., 50 threads; 5 to the lb., 55 threads, 4 to the lb., 60 threads. These wicks, composed of 10, 12, or even 16 cords, are very loosely twisted, and form a kind of hollow tube. For stearic candles, three-corded plaited wicks are generally used, smaller in size and of finer yarn. Stearic candles, 4 to the lb., the wicks consist of 108 threads; 5 to the lb., 96 threads ; 6 to the lb., 87 threads ; 8 to the lb., 63 threads.
Preparing Wicks.—This is done by wick-mordants, by means of which they are rendered less combustible, especially those for stearic acid, and composite candles. Compounds composed of solutions of ammoniac salts, of bismuth, of borates, or boracic acid, are used. A simple and cheap mordant for wicks is a sal ammoniac solution of 2° to 8° B. This concentration is strong enough, and if a weaker one be used, a spark will remain on the wick after the candle has been blown out, and burning down to the fat, make relighting more difficult.
Workshop Receipts, for the Use of Manufacturers, Mechanics and Scientific Amateurs.
London: E. and F. N. Spon, [no date, but 1873.]
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Last revised: 12 November 2013.