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Choosing The Right Candle

The world of candles may seem simple.  After all, a candle is just a wick and wax, in its most essential form.  However, there are a wide variety of types of candles, as well as a number of different types of candle wax.   Add this to a rainbow of colors and scents, and you end up with an endless variety of candles!  This can be fun, but it can also be confusing.  What type of candle best suits your needs?  This article will discuss various styles of candles so that you can select the best one for you.

Jar Candles

Jar candles are candles in which the wax is poured in to a non-flammable, heat resistant container, usually made of glass or ceramic.  Jar candles are great for people who want to learn to make their own candles, as they are the simplest candles to make.  Just melt your wax, pour it in to the jar, and place your wick!  Jar candles are also very easy and safe to burn.  They are in a stable container, so you don't need a candle holder to burn them, and you don't have to worry about wax dripping on to any surfaces.  However, you may occasionally need to pour off some wax in order to ensure easy lighting of the wick.

Pillar Candles

Pillar candles are solid candles that stand on their own.  They are usually round, but there are also square, hexagonal, and other shapes of pillar candles.  Pillar candles are fairly easy to burn, as their stable shape makes them hard to knock over, and they often do not drip wax until the end of their lifespan.  However, it is important to burn them on a heat resistant stand or base for safety purposes.

Taper Candles

Taper candles are tall, thin candles often used as centerpieces on dinner tables.  They require an appropriately designed candle holder to hold them upright.  Taper candles tend to drip a lot of wax on to surfaces and are fairly easy to knock over, so great care must be taken when using them and they should never be left unattended.

Votive Candles

Votive candles are generally consistent in size, about 2 1/2 inches high.  They do not come in their own container, and so need to be placed in a votive candle holder to ensure safe, clean burning.  Votive candles are small and unobtrusive, but burn for a decent amount of time, making them a great choice for mood lighting.

Tea Lights

Tea lights are usually consistent in size, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 3/4 inches high, and sit inside a cylindrical metal container.  They are very small, and so only burn for a few hours.  Tea lights have a variety of uses, from mood lighting, to use in food warmers and oil burners.  Generally, you want a tea light holder or other receptacle in order to burn tea lights.  They are small, unobtrusive, and make very little mess, as they are in their own container.  If you are interested in using an oil burner to diffuse essential oil scents, you will need a tea light to provide the heat.

Floating Candles

Floating candles are generally very short and are deigned to float in the water.  They come in a variety of different, beautiful shapes.  Floating candles are very exotic and attractive and can add amazing ambiance to any space.  Be careful not to put them in a bath or in hot water, though, as you don't want to melt the wax.

Specialty Candles

Specialty candles come in a vast variety of shapes.  Anything you can imagine, from a bird to Santa Claus, will almost certainly come in a variety of candle incarnations.  Specialty candles look interesting, but often burn irregularly due to their unusual shape and can drip a whole lot of wax on to surfaces.  Therefore, be sure to put specialty candles on an appropriate heat resistant surface when burning them.  Many people choose not to burn specialty candles, but simply to use them as decoration.

Candle Wax

There are also a variety of different waxes used for candle making.  Different waxes burn in different ways and can change the experience of burning your candle drastically.

Paraffin Wax

Paraffin wax is the most commonly used candle wax, and paraffin wax candles are generally the least expensive.  It is odorless, colorless and tasteless.  Paraffin wax comes in different grades, ranging from wax with a low melting point to wax with a very high melting point.  Paraffin wax with a high melting point burns longer.  Paraffin wax produces a certain amount of soot in to the air when it is burned, so it is important not to burn paraffin wax candles under or next to any wall or ceiling, as you may end up staining that surface.

Soy Wax

Soy wax is one of the most popular types of wax today.  It is inexpensive, burns without residue, and mixes very well with plant essences and essential oils.  Soy wax burns very evenly and is great for use in aromatherapy.  Soy wax candles produce very little soot and residue, and are therefore very healthy, natural candle options.


Beeswax is very expensive and smells naturally of honey.  It is a sticky, slow burning wax that emits no smoke or toxic chemicals.  It also emits negative ions, which clear away contaminants in the air, such as dust and mold.  Therefore, they are very helpful for individuals suffering from asthma.  Their scent is sweet and relaxing.  Beeswax candles also tend not to drip wax, making them easy to care for.

Palm Wax

Palm wax is made of palm oil, which is an all-natural, renewable resource sourced from the oil palm.  It is very environmentally friendly, holds fragrance well, and resists melting in hot temperatures.  Palm wax candles are cleaner burning and healthier than paraffin wax candles, and are inexpensive as well!
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