Popular Candle Types

National Candle Association

Candles come in virtually every shape and size imaginable. The following terms are used to describe common candle styles.

Taper:A slender candle – typically 6 to 18 inches high and sometimes called a dinner candle – designed to be held securely upright by a candle holder.

Pillar: A free-standing candle, usually having a diameter of 3 inches or more, and one or more wicks. Despite the name, pillars or column candles can be round, square, hexagonal, etc. Although they stand on their own, they must be burned on a heat-resistant candle holder.

Container, jar or filled candle: A candle that is poured when manufactured into a glass, metal or ceramic container specifically designed to hold the wax and withstand the heat of the burning candle.

Votive: A small cylindrical candle, usually about 1½ inches in diameter and 2 or 2½ inches high, designed to be placed in a "cup" or votive holder to hold the liquefied wax that results from burning. Votives were originally produced as white unscented candles for religious ceremonies; they are now available in many colors and scents.

Gel Candle: A transparent-type candle made primarily from gelled mineral oils or gelled synthetic hydrocarbons. “Soft” or quasi-rigid gels are poured into a container to maintain the candle’s shape. "Hard" gel candles have a consistency suitable for free-standing candles.Decorative wax items are frequently suspended within a gel candle to produce a special visual effect.

Tealight: A small, cylindrical, filled candle -- usually about 1 inch in diameter and 1½ inches high -- often poured into a metal holder.

Luminaria: An outdoor candle made by placing a 15-hour votive in a light-diffusing container filled with sand.

Specialty candle: An unusually shaped or sculpted free-standing candle, often depicting a three-dimensional object or designed to be viewed primarily as decorative artwork, and sometimes called a novelty candle.


Back to Articles