Since the tenth century BCE, candles have lit the way. While the basic concept of burning a wick in a flammable material has remained unchanged, the varieties of candles available to us have continued to grow. From ambient to emergency use, ceremonial to celebratory, there's a candle for every occasion. These nine types of decorative candles will make your home look and feel sophisticated.
One of the oldest candle varieties, taper candles are known for their long, slender shape that is thinner toward the top. Common lengths sit around twelve inches, but tapers can range from just six inches to over three feet. They are usually dipped or molded and come in many colors. Exactly how long a candle burns can vary depending on the size, type of wick, wax, and overall quality; taper candles typically burn for about an hour per inch.
Taper candles require a candle holder to support them. Their reputation for elegance is emphasized by charming candlesticks or ornate candelabras that are just as much part of the decor as the candles themselves. Sprinkle stand-alone tapers in crystal holders on the mantle for a glamorous display, or position a modern candelabra in the center of the dinner table as a bold accent for romantic meals. Using varying lengths lends a playful, contemporary look, while using same length makes for a uniform, traditional appearance.
Pillar candles have wide, cylindrical silhouettes in many colors and can stand on their own without a candle holder. They range from just a few inches tall to over a foot, spanning up to six inches wide. Because of their larger size, they often have multiple wicks to promote even burning. The array of sizes means an array of different burn times, increasing with the height and width.
To make your pillar candles look polished and intentional, play with the way to you display them. Try placing a group of three pillars in varying heights on a silver charger plate and tie them together with ribbon for a sophisticated coffee table arrangement. Go big or go home by placing a large pillar candle in a hurricane vase for your next dining table centerpiece. Fill the bottom with pebbles, seas glass, or other vase fillers to add texture to the presentation.
Votives are short, cylindrical candles that are perfect for ambiance. They require a container that is purchased separately, often made of glass to let the flame shine through. Known for producing little to no smoke, you can use many of them in one spot to create a calming atmosphere. They are small but they pack a punch, burning for up to fifteen hours.
Votive candles are frequently clustered together in groups. Though commonly white, they can be found in a variety of colors to match your mood. Mix and match faceted candle holders to add some sparkle to
spa nights, or opt for a row of mercury glasses in a wood holder for a textured, earthy glow to your windowsill.
Originally made to keep pots of tea warm for a few hours, tea lights are small and shallow candles with a short burn time. They always come in their own casings of thin metal or plastic and do not require an additional holder unless desired. The wax is usually a classic white, but colorful renditions can be found.
Their small stature and flame make tea lights ideal for illuminating intimate settings, and their short burn time also means they're the perfect size for an event. Use them to add glimmer to your holiday party table spreads, or perch some on the edge of the bathtub for some extra ambiance while you soak your troubles away. Dress up these little flames by placing them inside tea light holders, lanterns, or by wrapping the base in washi tape.
A close relative in size to the tea light, floating candles are small, flat disks that can float on water's surface. They are generally safe to use, being surrounded by water, and they last a few hours, making them a popular choice for events.
These floating beauties are highly decorative with an unmistakable element of glamor. Place the candles in individual vases with a twig or leaves in the bottom for a natural display. Or, fill a wide bowl with multiple candles and sprinkle in flower petals for a touch of romance. Floating candles are often white, but many hues are available to add a pop of color.
To make a container candle, liquid wax is poured directly into the vessel it will be burned in. Like pillar candles, they can vary greatly in size and therefore burn time. Because they are safely contained, they are popular for casual use around the house. While many candle companies use the container as a branding and labeling opportunity, the containers themselves can add just as much to the experience as the candle itself.
The most common candle jar material is glass, but you may also see ceramic, metal, or even concrete. These candles are often scented and used as stand-alone features on side tables, counters, or nightstands to fill the room with an atmospheric calm. Choosing a jar that fits your style has the bonus of aesthetic reusability. When the candle is done, use the jar as decor, a trinket container, or a vessel for your own homemade candle.
"Novelty" is the catch-all term for candles with unique qualities and appearances. These candles are usually considered decorative works of art, and you may choose not to light them at all. Carved candles are carefully peeled to form intricate curls, a technique popularized in Germany and Holland. Some candles may be sculpted by hand into statues, or poured into unique molds to form unusual shapes. You
can even give regular taper candles a fun twist by gently softening the candle in a bath of warm water then bending it into a squiggly shape.
Every variety of candle mentioned so far comes in scented or unscented versions. You'll find the widest variety of scents with container candles, but they can easily add pizazz to other types as well. A pleasant aroma wafting through your rooms will add another dimension to your decor and can emphasize the environment you'd like to achieve. Is your mood relaxed, cozy, or refreshed? Does the season call for fresh floral scents, or deep gourmand scents? Decorate with your nose to choose a fragrance that matches your preference and the mood. If you are sensitive to smell and just want the warm glow of the candle's flame, go for unscented options.
There's a flameless alternative to just about every common candle shape you can imagine, with pillar candles being the most common find. These battery-operated candles often have a thin wax or plastic casing to mimic the appearance of a real candle. An LED light illuminates the faux flame to give you the same gentle flickering effect without the fire hazard. Many flameless candles are also equipped with self-timers or remote controls to make them easy to use. They are a great choice for high-traffic areas, among families with children or pets, or in rental spaces where you want to be sure you'll get that security deposit back.
What candles are you lighting tonight? Show us your flickering ambiance by tagging Walker Edison on social media.