Nothing adds warmth and gentle ambiance to a space like a flickering flame over a candle.  Whether you want to be festive, relax, or set a mood, your well-placed choice of candle can accomplish just that.  There are a myriad of different fragrances available, ranging from subtle to powerful.  There are also a lot of unscented candles available for those who don’t want to add a scent to the space, or are sensitive to fragrances.

At Down To Earth, we strive to carry a lot of different candles to suite a wide variety of tastes and uses.  We decided to put together some information to share about candles, including types of candles and their uses, the appropriate use of a candleholder, tips and tricks, and troubleshooting to help you get the most out of your candles.

Candle Types

Tealight:  This squat little candle is very versatile.  They are circular, and usually wider than they are tall.  They typically come in a little plastic or metal cup, which is very useful for keeping the wax contained.  This makes them perfect for a multitude of candle holders, or as a stand alone.

Votive:  Votives, with origins of being used in offering rituals, are taller and a bit wider than tealights.  They require a holder, as the wax will melt away and pool as it burns.  In general, you’ll want to use a specific votive holder that encloses the candle as tightly as possible, minimizing the potential of a melted mess.

Pillar:  Pillar candles are big, usually cylindrical in shape, and do not require being placed into a holder.  You will however want a flat surface for it to burn on and catch any wax that may drip.

Types of wax:

When selecting your candles, there is also the type of wax to consider.  Some candles are made of a single wax, such as beeswax or paraffin.  Other candles are made with a blend of waxes.  Each wax burns differently.

Beeswax: An all natural wax derived from honeycomb.  The wax gives off a honey-like scent while burning.   You’ll notice that candles made with beeswax have a whitish film appear the longer they sit on a shelf, and the cooler the temperature.  That is called “bloom”, and can be buffed off gently with a rag to reveal the shiny gold colored candle beneath if desired.  Benefits of beeswax:  Beeswax burns clean, and has a high melting point, which makes the candles last longer than other waxes, and means that they drip less.

Paraffin:  Paraffin is derived from petroleum, and is a common ingredient in many candles.  It is inexpensive, white, and odorless, and used to make tealights, tapers, votives, and pillars.  It holds colors and scents well, making it a popular choice for candles and candle wax blends.

Soy Wax:  Soy wax is derived from soy oil.  It is a softer wax, so most soy candles are actually a blend of different waxes, as 100 percent soy candles are only good for tealights or container candles.  For candles such as tapers or pillars, you will find a soy blend.

Palm Wax:  Palm wax is derived from palm oil.  It has a high melting point, making for a long lasting candle.  It holds and disperses fragrances well, and burns leaving little to no soot.

Coconut Wax:  Coconut wax is derived from cold pressing coconut meat, similar to coconut oil.  Coconut wax holds scents well, making it ideal for candles.

Candle Holders:

Candle holders range from simple to decorative, and each have a very specific function to allow for the proper burning of your candle.  Most small candleholders are perfect for tealights.  Since tealights come in a small cup, there is no wax to clean off the bottom of the holder, and you have the freedom to place the tealight in small to large holders.  Some larger holders have cutouts that will cast a light pattern on the wall or table when holding a burning candle.  Since votives are not contained and can make a big mess, finding a votive holder that they fit snugly in can not only help eliminate waxy messes, but prolong the burn time of the candle.  Pillars do not drip on the outside, so they can be placed on small plates or elevated pillar holders and you can admire the lovely glow as they burn down.  Taper candles may drip depending on the wax used, how they are placed, and the airflow in the room.

Before lighting your candle:

How to maximize your burn time: Trim wicks to 1/4″ before lighting the candle.  In general, allow your candle to burn 1 hour per 1″ of diameter to allow the wax to fully melt the top layer.


You find that your votive is nearly impossible to get out of the holder after it has burned completely.  We’ve found that using a chopstick to dislodge the leftover chunk of wax at the bottom can be useful, though depending on the situation, can still be really challenging.  To avoid this scenario, before burning the candle, put about a tsp of water in the bottom of the holder.  The wax that’s leftover after the candle has burned will not stick like glue to the glass and instead will pop right out!  (You can also stick a glass holder in the freezer and the wax should easily come out.)
Another handy use of the chopstick: is if your wick starts to lean, burning your candle unevenly, a chopstick can gently nudge the wick back upright.

To avoid excessively drippy taper candles:  Burn your tapers in a room that doesn’t have a draft, and avoid placing them under ceiling fans or near room fans.  Any breeze or draft can cause erratic burning and normally dripless candles to drip all over your table.

Pillar protip- As your pillar candles burn down you can gently push the walls of wax slightly inward for the flame to melt, increasing the mileage of the candle and using as much precious wax as possible!