Types Of Candles: How To Choose The Perfect Candle For Every Setting

The Value of Having Different Candle Types

During our history candles have served as a beacon in the darkness, providing not only light but also warmth and comfort. They have been used in spiritual rituals, as a means of keeping time, and even as a source of heat. Today, candles have evolved far beyond their basic utility and have become a staple in home décor, celebrations, and wellness practices.

The beauty of candles lies in their diversity. There are countless types of candles available on the market today, each designed with a specific purpose in mind. This variety allows us to choose candles that perfectly match our needs, preferences, and the ambiance we aim to create.

Scented candles take this sensory experience a step further. Available in an array of fragrances, these candles can transform the atmosphere of a room, evoke memories, or promote relaxation.

Choosing the right type of candle is not just about the light it provides, but also about the mood it sets, its scent, and how it complements your décor. By understanding the value and uses of different candle types, you can enhance your surroundings and create a personalized space that reflects your style and meets your needs.

In essence, the various types of candles available today offer more than just functional value. They are a testament to how this ancient invention has adapted over time, meeting our evolving aesthetic and sensory desires while still fulfilling its original purpose - to bring light into our lives. Whether you're seeking comfort, celebration, tranquility, or romance, there's a candle out there that can set the perfect tone.


Pillar Candles

Pillar candles are one of the most common and versatile types of candles you'll encounter. Named for their shape, pillar candles are thick and cylindrical, resembling a pillar. They're free-standing, meaning they don't need a container or a specific type of candle holder to stay upright.

Pillar candles come in a range of sizes, with diameters varying from 2 to 3 inches typically, and heights ranging from 3 inches to over a foot tall. Some speciality pillar candles can even be square or hexagonal, but the classic pillar candle is round.

One of the key characteristics of pillar candles is their long burn time. Due to their solid, chunky form, they have more wax to burn compared to other candle types. A small pillar candle can last up to 20 hours, while larger ones can burn for 90 hours or more.

Pillar candles serve multiple purposes. For one, they're excellent sources of light. If you have a power outage or simply prefer a softer, warmer glow than electric lights, pillar candles are a great choice. They also serve as decorative pieces, adding an elegant touch to any room decor. Due to their substantial size, they often become the focal point of a table setting or mantelpiece.

Moreover, pillar candles can be either scented or unscented. Scented versions can fill a room with a delightful aroma, adding another layer to your sensory experience. From fresh linen to warm vanilla, the choices are endless. On the other hand, unscented pillar candles are perfect for dinner parties or events where the scent might interfere with the taste of food.


pillar candles on a table


When burning pillar candles, it's crucial to place them on a heat-resistant surface or a designated pillar candle holder. This is not only for stability but also to catch any wax that might drip, although well-made pillar candles are designed to burn the wax evenly with minimal dripping.


Taper Candles

Taper candles, also known as dinner candles, are perhaps one of the most classic types of candles. They are characterized by their slender and elongated shape, gradually thinning from the base to the wick at the top. Traditional tapers are usually wider at the bottom and taper off towards the top, hence the name.

Taper candles come in a variety of sizes, with heights typically ranging from 10 to 15 inches. Some retailers even offer hand-dipped taper candles in various lengths, including 6, 8, 10, and 12 inches. The diameter of a taper candle is generally less than an inch, making them perfect for fitting into candle holders.

One of the most significant advantages of taper candles is their elegance. The tall, slender shape adds a dramatic flair to any setting, whether it's a romantic dinner, a religious ceremony, or simply a decorative touch to your living room. They're available in an array of colors, from classic white and ivory to vibrant hues and pastels, allowing you to match them with your decor or event theme.

Taper candles are typically unscented, making them ideal for use during meals where you wouldn't want the scent of the candle to interfere with the aroma of the food. However, there are scented options available if you prefer a fragrance.

In terms of burn time, taper candles don't last as long as some other types of candles due to their thin form. However, you can expect a good quality taper candle to burn for several hours, providing a warm, gentle light that creates a cozy atmosphere.


numerous taper candles in the dark


When using taper candles, it's essential to have a proper candle holder. This not only ensures stability but also catches any wax drippings. Some taper candles are dripless, meaning they're designed to minimize wax drippings for a cleaner burn.


Votive Candles

Votive candles are small, typically cylindrical candles that are often used for religious or spiritual purposes. The term "votive" comes from the Latin word "votum", meaning vow, prayer, or promise, reflecting the candle's historical use as a votive offering in acts of Christian devotion. However, today, votive candles have expanded beyond just religious contexts and are commonly used for decoration and fragrance.

One of the defining characteristics of votive candles is their size. They're typically smaller than other types of candles, making them perfect for small spaces or for creating a warm ambiance without being overpowering. Despite their small size, votive candles can offer approximately 20-28 hours of burn time, providing several days of exceptional scent.

Votive candles can be either scented or unscented. Scented votive candles add a touch of fragrance to the room, with the shade of the candle often reflecting the scent. For example, an orange candle might have a citrus scent, while a blue candle might have a fresh, clean aroma. On the other hand, unscented votive candles focus on creating a warm, inviting atmosphere without adding any additional fragrances.

In terms of design, votive candles are usually presented in a simple, unassuming style, allowing them to fit seamlessly into any decor. However, some companies offer innovative designs like bell-top shapes that allow the wax to melt fully, thereby maximizing the fragrance release.


votive candles in red holders


When using votive candles, it's important to place them in a suitable holder. This not only ensures stability but also catches any wax that might melt. Votive candles are designed to liquefy completely, so a snug holder is necessary to contain the liquid wax and prolong the candle's burn time.


Tealight Candles

Tealight candles are small, round candles encased in a thin metal or plastic cup. They're named for their original purpose: providing light for tea service. Today, they serve a multitude of purposes beyond just tea time.

One of the key features of tealight candles is their size. Typically about 1.5 inches in diameter and 0.5 inches high, these compact candles fit into small spaces easily. Despite their small size, they can provide a burn time of around 4 to 6 hours. Some brands even offer giant bulk packs, making it easy to always have tealights on hand.

Tealight candles are available in both scented and unscented varieties. Scented tealights can add a subtle fragrance to a room, while unscented ones are perfect for use as a light source or in decorative settings where the scent may not be desired.

One of the unique aspects of tealight candles is their versatility. They can be used individually, placed into a variety of holders, or grouped together to create a warm, inviting ambiance. They're popular for events like weddings and parties, and are also commonly used in relaxation and meditation practices.


tealight candles on display on a table


In addition to traditional wax tealights, there are also flameless options available. These LED tealights offer the same soft glow without the fire risk, making them a safe option for homes with children or pets.

When burning tealight candles, it's important to remember that the metal or plastic cup gets hot. Therefore, they should always be placed on a heat-resistant surface or in a suitable holder.

Container Candles

Container candles, as the name implies, are candles that are poured into some type of container or jar, often made of glass, ceramic, or metal. These containers not only serve as a holder for the candle but also add to its decorative appeal.

One of the key characteristics of container candles is their ease of use. Unlike taper or pillar candles, they don't require a separate holder as the container itself serves this purpose. This design also makes them safer, as the container catches any wax that melts, reducing the risk of wax spilling onto surfaces.

Container candles come in a variety of sizes and styles, making it easy to find one that fits any decor or occasion. From small votive-like containers to larger jars or pots, you can choose based on the desired burn time and aesthetic. The containers can be kept and reused once the candle has burned down, making them a sustainable choice as well.

Most container candles are scented, filling a room with a pleasant aroma as they burn. The fragrances can range from floral and fresh to spicy or sweet, allowing you to set the mood or evoke specific feelings. Some brands even offer layered candles, which release different scents as the candle burns down.

The burn time of container candles can vary greatly depending on their size. Small ones might last for 20 hours, while larger ones can burn for well over 50 hours. It's recommended to burn these candles for a few hours at a time to allow the wax to melt evenly across the surface, preventing tunneling.


container candles with decorations on a table


When using container candles, it's important to trim the wick to about a quarter inch before each use. This helps ensure a clean, even burn and prolongs the life of the candle. Also, never leave a burning candle unattended, and always place it on a heat-resistant surface to prevent damage.

Flameless Candles

Flameless candles, or LED candles, are a modern alternative to traditional wax candles. They offer the same warm glow and ambiance as their traditional counterparts, but without the risk of fire or the mess of melted wax. Here's a closer look at what makes flameless candles an appealing choice:


  • Safety: The most significant advantage of flameless candles is safety. Since they use LED lights instead of an actual flame, there's no risk of accidental fires, making them safe around children, pets, or in environments where a real flame isn't practical.

  • Long-lasting: Flameless candles run on batteries, and some can last up to 1,000 hours on a single set. This makes them a cost-effective and long-lasting lighting solution.

  • Versatility: Flameless candles come in all shapes and sizes, from tealights to votives to pillars, fitting any decor or occasion. Some even have built-in timers or remote controls for added convenience.

  • Fragrance options: While not all flameless candles are scented, many models come with a fragrance feature. These candles release a subtle scent, similar to traditional candles, enhancing the ambiance of your space. 

  • Realistic appearance: Many flameless candles are designed to mimic the flickering effect of a real candle, adding to their authenticity. Some even have 'wicks' and wax-like finishes to make them look more like the real thing.

  • Environmentally friendly: Flameless candles produce no smoke or soot, making them a cleaner option for the environment. Additionally, since they're reusable, they generate less waste compared to traditional candles.



a number of flameless candles


Flameless candles offer a host of benefits that make them a great alternative to traditional candles. Whether you're looking for a safer lighting option, a long-lasting decorative element, or simply a way to add a cozy ambiance to your space without the mess, flameless candles might be the perfect solution.


Conclusion: Embracing the Many Types of Candles

In our modern world, candles have transcended their initial purpose of providing light and evolved into versatile accessories that add a touch of elegance, warmth, fragrance, and style to our spaces. From the traditional sophistication of taper candles to the practicality of container candles, and the safety-first approach of flameless candles, there is a type of candle to suit every preference and setting.

Understanding and appreciating the unique characteristics of each type of candle is key to making an informed choice. This knowledge allows you to select the most suitable candle for your specific needs, whether you're seeking to create a romantic dinner ambiance with dimmed taper candles, a relaxing evening bath with scented votives, or a festive glow at a party with an assortment of pillar candles.

But the magic of candles goes beyond their physical attributes and practical benefits. Incorporating these beautiful light sources into your home or event can fundamentally transform the ambiance. They can turn an ordinary room into a cozy retreat, infuse a space with enticing fragrances, and provide a soothing glow that invites relaxation and introspection.

Moreover, candles can serve as a medium for expressing personal style and taste. The array of colors, sizes, and designs available allows you to find those that perfectly match your decor and aesthetic preferences, adding a personal touch to your space.

Embracing the many types of candles is not only about enhancing your candle burning experience but also about creating an environment that resonates with your personality and lifestyle. So, as you explore the world of candles, remember that each type carries its own story and ambiance. Choose wisely and let these radiant treasures transform your space into a haven of comfort, warmth, and style that's truly your own.


  1. What are the different types of candles? There are various types of candles including pillar candles, taper/dinner candles, votive candles, tea lights, container candles, and flameless or LED candles.

  2. What are the different types of candle wax? The most common types of candle wax are beeswax, paraffin wax, soy wax, palm wax, and coconut wax. Each type has its own properties and benefits.

  3. What is a flameless candle? A flameless candle, also known as an LED candle, is a safe alternative to traditional candles. It uses LED lights to mimic the glow of a real candle, but without the fire hazard or mess of melted wax.

  4. Why are some candles scented? Scented candles are designed to release a pleasant aroma when burned. They can be used to create a relaxing atmosphere, mask unpleasant odors, or simply to add a lovely scent to a room.

  1. How long do candles usually last? The burn time of a candle can vary greatly depending on its size and type. Small candles might last for a few hours, while larger ones can burn for up to 100+ hours..

  2. Are there environmentally friendly candles? Yes, some types of candles are more environmentally friendly than others. For example, beeswax, coconut, and soy wax candles are considered eco-friendly because they're made from renewable resources and burn cleaner than paraffin wax candles.

  3. What safety precautions should I take when burning candles? Always place candles on a heat-resistant surface away from flammable materials. Never leave a burning candle unattended. If using traditional candles, trim the wick to about a quarter inch before each use to ensure a clean, even burn.

  4. Can I reuse the containers of container candles? Yes, once the candle has burned down, you can clean out the container and reuse it for other purposes, such as storage or as a planter.