Different Types of Candles

What are the different types of candles?

Candles come in so many different shapes, sizes, and types. Whether you want to decorate your home or try making your own candles, it helps to know what's what. As the candle industry grows, more and more candle types pop up every year. Below, learn about all the different styles so you can choose the best type of candle for your home.

Popular Candle Types

As candles soar in popularity, you can choose from an almost endless number of options. Here are some of the most common types:

  • Container Candles - A container candle is essentially any candle in a jar, tin, ceramic container, or glass vessel. Container candles are popular because they are self-contained and create little to no mess. When packaged in beautiful jars, container candles also double as home decor.  
  • Pillar Candles - This is a freestanding candle made of hard wax such as beeswax or paraffin. These candles are great for decorating, and there are tons of unique designs you can make. Most pillar candles are cylindrical. However, candle makers have also started using interesting types of candle shapes such as geometric designs.
  • Tea Light Candles - Tea lights are small candles usually no larger than 1.5" in diameter and hold no more than 0.5 oz of wax. Each candle burns for under 4 hours. However, they are some of the most versatile candles on the market. You can use tea lights in homemade luminaries, wall sconces, holiday decor, table settings, and so much more.
  • Votive Candles - Votives are typically 1.5 to 2" in diameter and hold less than 2 oz of wax. It's easy to confuse tea lights with votives. While people use them for similar purposes, the biggest difference is that votive candles are larger and burn longer. You'll commonly find votives in clear glass jars, but some are more like small pillar candles without a container.
  • Prayer Candles - This term may apply to several types of candles. However, a traditional prayer candle is a tall, narrow candle usually made in a clear glass jar. This particular type of candle is usually called a vigil candle and is traditionally used in Christian religions. The jars may or may not have decoration on them.
  • Taper Candles - Taper candles are tall, narrow candles made with hard wax. Like pillar candles, they are free standing. Modern taper candles are usually made by pouring wax into a mold. However, traditional taper candles are made by dipping a wick into melted wax, letting it cool, and repeating the process until it forms a thick shell around the wick. 
  • Floating Candles - A floating candle is a small, squat candle that is buoyant enough to float on water. Floating candles can create a beautiful aesthetic for a centerpiece or an at-home spa day. Made from hard wax like paraffin or beeswax, these candles are similar in size and burn similar to tea lights.
  • Multi-Wick Candles - Most candles have just one wick, but in recent years, candles with more than one wick have become increasingly popular. Most multi wick candles have two or three wicks. However, you can also find specialty candles with 4, 5, or even more wicks.
  • Wood Wick Candles - Candles with wooden wicks are very popular for their rustic feel and crackling sound. As the name suggests, these candles use a wood wick instead of a cotton wick. You can even buy wood wicks to make your own wood wick candles at home!
  • Flameless Candles - A flameless candle is battery operated and therefore not a real candle. However, many people like flameless candles because they pose no fire risk. In recent years, flameless candles have improved and many look like real candles. However, they still have no scent.
  • Wickless Candles - Although not a true candle, we included wickless candles for comparison. Picture a container candle made without a wick. Instead of lighting the candle, you place it under a heat lamp or on a candle warming plate to melt the wax and spread the scent. People enjoy wickless candles because they don't require a flame but still smell amazing.

Types of Waxes Used for Candles

Sometimes the main thing that distinguishes one candle from the next is the type of wax used. As candles become more popular, the wax options keep expanding as well. Here are a few of the most common wax types you will come across:

  • Paraffin Candles - A vast majority of candles on the market today use paraffin wax. Some are made with 100% paraffin, while others use a blend with paraffin in it. Paraffin often gets a lot of flack for being a petroleum byproduct. However, studies have shown that paraffin candles are no more toxic than candles made with other types of wax.
  • Soy Candles - Soy candles first became popular in the 90s and have stayed that way ever since. Soy was one of the first vegetable waxes used for making candles, and it is still one of the top-selling types of wax today. You can find 100% soy as well as soy blend candles.
  • Coconut Candles - In recent years, coconut wax blends have become a popular alternative to soy. Most coconut candles are actually blends rather than being pure coconut wax. That's because coconut wax is extremely soft and burns too quickly on its own. Although most large candle manufacturers don't reveal their ingredients, most coconut wax contains a blend of soy or paraffin.
  • Beeswax Candles - Beeswax is popular because it's all natural and has a beautiful appearance. As a hard wax, beeswax works well for container candles as well as pillars and tapers.
  • Gel Candles - Unlike soy or paraffin, gel wax is clear. This allows a candlemaker to get creative with colors and designs that you can see through the glass container. Because of its soft consistency, gel wax candles are always in containers.

Make Your Own Candles

If you’ve seen a candle in the store that you loved, chances are, you can make your own version of it at home! With the right equipment and ingredients, you can make essentially any type of candle yourself. Check out How to Make Your First Candle for a comprehensive guide on container candles!

NorthWood carries all the supplies you need to make your own candles! If this list left you feeling inspired, head over to our Candle Supplies collection for everything you need.

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