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23 Types of Candles for Light and Ambience in Your Home

There isn't just one type of candle. There are many types. We did the research and list out all the different types of candles you can buy for your home - whether you need them for light, ambience or both.

Ambient candle display in the house

When I was in grade 4 I attended a week-long summer camp. It was an amazing place on a mountain in a forest. We stayed in cabins with other kids. There was a big field, a lake and so much more.

Our days were filled with the various activities that we signed up for. One activity I chose was candle making. It was an absolute blast. We melted crayons into layers in milk cartons. It was awesome. I went home with several DIY candles.

It’s interesting that despite having all kinds of lights powered by electricity that candles wouldn’t be so popular, but they are. In fact, people in the USA alone spend approximately $3.2 billion per year on candles. They’re used in 7 out of 10 households.

We’re a good example. We buy all kinds of candles for our home. My wife likes having a candle at the dinner table (although our 3 year old loves blowing them out so sometimes it’s a short-lived dinner candle).

Candles are also good to have on hand for when the power goes out.

Which brings me to this article’s key topic – a detailed look at all the different types of candles you can buy. We break down the types by candle type, wax, wick and features.

Related: Lighting Options

Candle Types

1. Flameless

Flameless Pillar Candles

Flameless Pillar Candles

Flameless Taper Candles

Flameless Taper Candles

We have several flameless candles in our house. They really do look like candles. We like them because we have young kids. Besides, they last a long time and they aren’t a fire hazard.

These types of candles have become very popular in recent years because there isn’t any worry over accidentally starting a fire in your home when you use them. You will still be able to create a warm, inviting atmosphere without any worry of someone getting burned or forgetting to blow the candles out at the end of the night. They do not produce any smoke or heat but are a great source of light. These battery-powered candles do not have a stagnant light source; rather, they are made to flicker and to move in a way that is similar to candles with flames, which causes them to look very natural. There are some flameless candles that can be programmed so they will automatically turn on at a specific time of the day. Others come with a remote control, which will allow you to easily turn them on and off without having to lift each individual candle and turn on or off the switch on the bottom.

2. Tea Light

Tea lights

These candles are easily recognizable, thanks to their small size and the fact that they are in a small metal container. Due to their small size, they will not last for very long before they burn out but they are a great way to add a little light to your space. They create an incredibly intimate environment, which is something that your guests will remember if you have a party. Because they are so small, you will generally want to use a number of them at once so that you get the most impact from their small flames. Grouping them together is the best way to enjoy impact from these candles and ensure that you have enough light.

3. Votive

Votive Candles

While votive candles are still relatively small, they are not nearly as small as tea light candles are. They are generally about 2.5 inches tall and around 2 inches in diameter, making them short and squat. It is imperative that you only use votive candles in a container so that you don’t have to worry about how you are going to safely control the flame. One reason why so many people love votive candles is because they do not produce any smoke. Additionally, they burn for a very long period of time, which is surprising due to their smaller size. When a votive candle burns all the way to the bottom, then it will simply burn itself out. This means that you don’t have to keep a close eye on these candles or worry about them as they get close to extinguishing.

4. Taper

Dinner table with taper candles


If you want candles that are classic and will instantly update your space and the way that your home looks, then you will want to reach for taper candles. These are very tall and generally thin, which lends them an incredibly elegant air. If you want to create a romantic dinner or simply light some candles to improve the ambiance of your space, taper candles are a great option. They can burn for an incredibly long period of time, even up to 10 hours, which makes them ideal for use when you are going to have a very long meal or don’t want to have to worry about checking the condition of your candles during a party. One problem that you will need to be prepared for when you are going to use taper candles is that these candles can’t stand up on their own and have to be in candleholders.

5. Candle Pot

Candle Pot

Candle pots are very popular because they take a lot of the stress out of having a lit candle in your home or office. If you want to be able to burn a candle in your space but are worried about keeping an eye on the flame or the hot wax, then a candle pot may be the best option for you. These candles come in a glass, pot, or a jar. They are not poured and then set inside of the jar but rather are poured directly into the container, which means that you don’t have to worry about the candle popping out or coming loose from the jar. You don’t have to worry about finding candleholders for these candles as they are ready to be lit from the moment you buy them. Candle pot candles often come with a lid, which makes it very easy to store them out of the way and prevent them from releasing their scent when they are not lit. It’s very easy to find candle pots in a variety of different colors, sizes, and scents, making it easy to choose one for your space that you are sure to love.

6. Pillar

Pillar candles on dining table

If you don’t want to have to worry about having your candles in candleholders the way that you do with taper candles but still want taller candles that will be breathtaking when lit and placed on the table or mantle, then pillar candles may be a great choice for you. These candles are ideal for people who don’t want to have to deal with a candleholder and want a candle that is large enough to be commanding once it is lit. They come in many different widths, heights, and scents. Some pillar candles are so large that they have more than one wick, which is a great way to ensure that you are getting enough light from your candles. When using a pillar candle, you need to make sure that you have the candle on a flat surface that is heat-resistant so that it will not damage the surface as the wick burns lower. It’s also important to make sure to keep an eye on your pillar candles as they are not in protective jars and can easily be knocked over if someone isn’t paying attention.

7. Birthday

Birthday cake with candles

Most everyone can easily recognize a birthday candle. These small candles are incredibly thin and light and come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and designs. They are used on a birthday cake and have to be able to light very quickly so that they will not burn down to the cake before the person has a chance to make a wish and blow them out. There are some types of birthday candles that are trick candles; even when they are blown out, they will delight. Other birthday candles will spark when they are lit and will resemble sparklers on a cake, which is a fun twist on regular birthday candles.

8. Floating

Floating candles in stemware

Floating candles are a great way to add atmosphere to your event as they produce a very attractive light and are a little bit unexpected. Unlike other types of candles that are either placed on a flat surface or in candleholders in order to be lit and to burn, floating candles are allowed to actually float on water. This can be very attractive, especially when the container they are in is deep enough and large enough to allow them to move a little bit with the water. One of the main benefits that you’ll enjoy when you opt for floating candles is that you don’t have to worry about hot wax spilling out onto your table or people accidentally knocking the candle over. Due to the fact that they are floating on water, they are generally very safe to use. Of course, since they are much smaller in size than other types of candles, they do tend to burn out more quickly but will generally last a few hours, making them perfect for an event.

Types of Wax Used for Candles

9. Paraffin Wax

Paraffin Wax

This is the most popular type of wax that is used to make candles. It is a byproduct from petroleum that is so popular due to its high melting point. This means that the candles made from paraffin wax are very rigid and strong. Because of this, paraffin wax is very commonly used to make pillar candles and votives as the candle needs to be sturdy enough to stand on its own. Many different types of colors and scents can be used with paraffin wax; in fact, there are a large number of dyes and scents that have been specifically formulated for use with paraffin. This means that these colors and scents are going to be more vibrant and potent, resulting in a much more pleasing candle for you to look at and burn.

10. Palm Wax

Palm Wax

Palm wax is much thicker than other types of wax that are used for making candles, which means that the wax will last for a long time when burning and the candle will have a longer burn time. One main benefit of using palm wax candles is that the wax itself is biodegradable, which means that it can be disposed of in an eco-friendly way. This wax is created by separating fatty acids from palm oil by placing the oil under extreme pressure and temperature. The fatty acids are then used to make the actual palm wax.

11. Soy Wax

Soy wax candle

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In recent years, soy wax candles have grown in popularity. They burn cleanly and are generally much cooler when burning than other types of candles are. This means that the actual candle itself is able to last for between 30% and 50% longer than candles made from other types of wax. Candles made from soy wax don’t produce any petrol-carbon soot and don’t have any pollutants in them.

12. Bayberry Wax

Cape Candle - Real Bayberry Wax Classic Candles 8" (Boxed pair)

This is an eco-friendly wax that is plant-based. Because it is not very strong or durable on its own, it is generally used in conjunction with beeswax so there isn’t any concern over the strength of the candle. Candles that are made from bayberry wax will have a very refreshing and natural aroma when burned. This wax is often used to create holiday candles, thanks to the light scent.

13. Beeswax

Beeswax candles

While beeswax candles are often much more expensive than other types of candles on the market, they have a number of benefits that make them very popular with people who are interested in having gorgeous candles that they can burn in their homes. These candles actually help to clean the air while they are being burned. They do this by reducing any pollutants present in the air that can cause allergies and asthma. Additionally, they burn much longer and much cleaner than candles that are made out of soy and paraffin.

14. Liquid Wax

Firefly Refillable, Glass Unscented Tealight Candles - 5 Pack - Bulk - Long Lasting Tea Lights

Candles that are made from various oils are ideal if you want to enjoy candles in your home or office but do not like the soot and smoke that they commonly produce. These candles are generally made from paraffin oil or mineral oil and are a clean option if you do not like the mess created by traditional candles. Additionally, you don’t have to deal with cleaning up any kind of melted wax, which means that you never have to worry about your surface being damaged by wax if the candle were to be knocked or were to fall over.

Wick Types for Candles

15. Wood Wicks

Wood Wick Candle

These wicks aren’t only incredibly easy to light but they are also environmentally friendly. Once you have lit a wood wick, they burn very cleanly due to the fact that they produce very little carbon buildup and debris. This results in a very professional look from your candles as well as leaving behind very little mess that you will have to clean up when the candle is blown out. Many people love that the wood wick will crackle softly when it is lit, which can help to improve your atmosphere and make it feel very cozy. This is a great wick if you don’t want to have to worry about trimming it and keeping it at a safe length for burning as they do not need to be trimmed no matter how long you let them burn at a time.

16. Cotton or Paper Core Wicks

Soy Tumbler Candle Hand Poured With Cotton Wick

One thing that most people notice when they burn candles that have paper or cotton core wicks is that they burn a lot hotter and faster than other types of wicks. This means that they will produce a lot more melted wax than other types of wicks will, which is something that you need to take into consideration when choosing a candle and deciding if it is the right choice for you. These wicks, due to how hot and fast they burn, are generally used with glass candles filled with wax.

17. Metal Core Wicks

This type of wick has metal in the middle of the wick, which is usually tin or zinc, and can actually stand upright while the wax in the candle liquifies. This means that your candle will look a lot nicer for a longer period of time. Because of this, they are commonly used with pillar and votive candles. While some people are concerned over the safety of using metal in the core of wicks and then allowing it to burn, there have been ample studies that have shown that both tin and zinc are perfectly safe to use in a wick because they are non-toxic. While lead used to be used in wicks, it has since been banned in many countries due to the pollutants that it would release when burned and the health hazards associated with this type of wick.

Candle Features

18. Scented

If you love the way that candles can improve not only the appearance and beauty of your space but also make your home smell better, then it’s a good idea to consider scented candles. These candles come in a variety of scents, which makes it fairly easy to find one that will smell great in your space and that you will like. From floral scents to the smell of baking cookies, scented candles are a great way to update your space and improve the smell. If you have unpleasant or stale odors in your home, then scented candles are a great way to get rid of them. They are also very beneficial if you have musty smells in your home that you want to clear.

19. Unscented

If you love the way that candles look and how they add beauty and ambiance to your space but aren’t interested in scented options, either because they bother your nose or because you don’t like having competing smells in your home, then unscented candles may be a great choice for you. They are ideal if you are going to be having a dinner party and don’t want the smell of your meal to have to compete with the scent of a candle or if you suffer from allergies. While they don’t have a scent, they are just as attractive and functional as scented candles are and will help set the ambiance in your home.

20. Set

Set of 3 pillar candles on dish in living room

One of the best ways to really make an impact with your candles is by placing a number of them in the same area. Candle sets are specifically designed to look great together; while they will be very similar in theme or design, they will not match perfectly. This is great as it ensures that your candles don’t match too much, which some people do not like. It’s normal for candles in a set to vary in size or shape but to have the same color or design on the candle so that they appear to be part of a cohesive set.

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21. Theme

Santa candle

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One great way to decorate for the holidays is with candles. You can buy ones that are themed for different holidays, which is a very fun way to decorate and ensure that you have carried the theme of the holiday throughout your home. As an added bonus, when you rely on themed candles as a part of your decorations, you will be able to light them and enjoy the ambiance that they create when hosting celebrations or dinner parties.

22. Dripless

Red dripless candles

One problem that many people face when they have candles is that the wax will drip down the side, pool at the bottom of the candle, and actually ruin the surface that the candle is on. Rather than allowing this to happen or having to constantly be on guard for candle wax that is starting to drip, when you invest in dripless candles, you won’t have worry about wax pooling by the candle or pouring it out when it is too runny. If your candles are a part of a centerpiece on your table, then this is important as the hot wax can ruin the centerpiece. Additionally, the candles themselves will look cleaner and neater and won’t be as dangerous since there is no hot wax that can burn you. They also burn longer and cleaner than regular candles do.

23. Insect Repellent

Insect Repellent Candles

Spending time outside in the summer or late spring is a lot of fun but not when you are constantly being bitten by insects. Rather than coating yourself with sprays that can contain very harmful chemicals, when you opt to light an insect-repellent candle, then you can help to drive away these pests without any adverse effects. Most people think that these candles are packed with essential oils smell great, which is an added benefit to using them. Of course, if it is very windy out or you are trying to prevent insects from entering a large space, then your candles may not provide you with the protection that you need or want.

Related: Candle Burning Tips | Candle Alternatives