Types of Candles: An Everyday Guide to Different Styles

Published May 18, 2021
Scented candles in ceramic bowls on linen tablecloth

Many candles are designed for a specific purpose. You can explore a list of candles and the common ways they are used.

Candles for Different Purposes

You want to consider how you intend to use a specific candle when choosing one. Some candle types are popular because they are made of a specific wax, such as beeswax candles that burn longer. Other candles are used strictly because of the meaning associated with the candle shape or color.

Types of candles Infographic


Essential oils are added to aromatherapy candle to release into the air as the wax burns. The essential oils have a therapeutic property depending on the type of essential oil contained in the candle. You can use aromatherapy candles during meditation, energy work, lounging in your home, or soaking in a tub. You can find these in almost every type of wax, such as beeswax or soy.

Birthday Cake

Birthday cake candles are typically small thin taper candles, although sparkler types are tall. Birthday cake candles come in various colors, swirly stripes, glitter, or shiny. You can find number candles for cake toppers to display the person's age. Trick candles and candles with changing colored flames are just some of the ones available for a birthday cake. You may prefer birthday cake character candle sets to please a young birthday child.

Birth Countdown

A birth countdown candle is usually a beautifully decorated, large, wide taper candle that has either 1-18 or 1-21 numbers. Number one is at the top of the candle with the other numbers trailing in descending order down the length of the candle. Each year, on your birthday, you light the candle and allow it to burn down to the beginning of the next number. The following year, you'll light the candle and allow it to burn down to the next number and so on. These candles are often given as a baby shower gift.


Carved candles have old world charm in a baroque style. These candles bring a magical touch to the world. The candles are full of wax curls and colorful wax swirls. You can find them in small to large sizes as pillar or taper candles.


Chime candles are widely used in Christmas angel chimes. They are also used in various Christian and Jewish rituals, spell casting, memorials, candlelight vigils, and other purposes. These candles come in various colors and are often sold in bulk of 40 -100 candles.

Christening and First Communion

A christening candle is usually given as a gift when a baby is christened. The candle can be a regular size taper or a much larger ceremonial taper. However, votive and jar candles in decorative holders are also popular. You can customize these candles with the infant's name and date of birth. This candle is also available as a first communion candle with the name of the child and the date of the child's first communion. Both candle types may also feature various religious symbols.

Men lighting baptismal candle in church


Citronella candles are made from any type of wax. The citronella essential oil is added to the candle since the citronella plant is a known to repel mosquitoes. These candles are popular patio, deck, and garden candles to chase away pesky mosquitoes.


Hand-Painted Flat Candles have dual wicks. The thin candle is supported with a steel or other fireproof stand. Flatyz Candles is one of the leading manufacturers of these whimsical candles. You can find them painted with seasonal, holiday, and various scenes.


Floating candles come in all colors and shapes. You can use them in bowls of water, tube vases, and pools. These candles burn from the center outward so there's no wax overspill. Floating candles are popular for wedding receptions, centerpieces, and various parties and celebrations.

Three lit candles floating in wooden bowls filled with water


Jar candles are typically sold in glass containers, but can be ceramic or metal. The candles are usually scented and come with a lid that you can use to snuff out the candle. The containers are often decorative to serve as a nice accessory when the candle isn't being used. You may decide to repurpose the container once the candle is spent.

Special Holiday Candles

There are many types of holiday candles. You can find decorated taper candles or molded candles that resemble a Christmas tree, pinecone, pumpkin, and other holiday motifs. You can also find hand-painted taper candle sets. If you love retro candles like the Gurley candles of the 1940s and 1950s, you can purchase new ones from the revived candle line.


Novelty candles come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. These candles may be in the shape of skulls, pumpkins, Santa Claus, succulents, fruit, and just about any kind of shape you can want.


Pillar candles are majestic columns that can be burned in a grouping or as a single candle. These candles come in all sizes and colors and can be made of any type of wax.

Illuminated Candle Against Blue Background

Ritual (Figure)

The ritual candle is usually shaped like a human body. This can be one person or a couple. These candles are used in spellwork, especially in hoodo and voodoo magic.


Some sculpted candles are made of beeswax since it is a premium wax that is easy to work with. You can find all kinds of sculptures, from decorative patterns for pillar candles to animal sculptures. Some sculpted candles allow the candle flame to glow behind the carvings for an inner glow effect.


Spell candles often come in boxes of 20 - 40 candles of various colors. The candles are sometimes called magic candles. These candles are used when casting spells or performing other magic rituals.


Taper candles are elegant, elongated candles with a conical tip. A taper candle is wider at the base and slightly narrower at the tip. Tapers are placed in a candelabrum or candle stick/holder. You can also find tapers that are rolled beeswax for a truly elegant candle choice.

Colorful new candles


A tealight candle has a disposable, round, thin metal cup or sometimes a plastic cup. The tealight was created to use as a food and teapot warmer. You can place a tealight in various decorative holders, used to heat scented oils, or use for accent lighting.


A tin candle is exactly as it sounds, a tin container that holds a candle. The tin has a lid that you can use to snuff out the candle. Travel tin candles are a popular style and are usually the size of a tealight candle, although you can find larger ones.


A votive candle is small, but taller than tealights. Votive are narrower at the base. These candles are used in churches as prayer candles. Prayer candles are usually white, although beeswax prayer candles are available. The candles are contained in a glass holder. You can also buy colored votives to use for decorative purposes.

Wedding Unity

A unity candle is used during the wedding ceremony. It represents two people joining in a union of marriage as one person. The unity candle can be plain or customized with the wedding couple's names or initials. Images can be added to the candles or religious symbols. The unity candles are typically large pillar candles. Some couples light their unity candle each wedding anniversary.

Different Types of Candles

Besides the various sizes and shapes, candles are available in scented and unscented. You can use either type of candle depending on personal preferences. Some people are sensitive to scented candles and opt for unscented. Fragrances are used in all types of candle waxes.

Flameless Candles

Flameless candles offer subtle candlelight without being a fire hazard. You can buy individual flameless candles or in a grouping of different sizes. Pillar candles are very popular choices, although you can find flameless tealights and votives. The candles require either AA or AAA batteries to operate. Many flameless candles come with a remote control with varying flame action.

Dripless Candles

A dripless candle can be a wonderful choice for any event. While a taper candle with trails of wax rolling down the candle length has a romantic ambience, it can ruin anything below it. A dripless candle can also drip, but the outer wax quickly hardens, so the wax doesn't continue to roll down the candle and beyond the holder.

Candle Waxes

You may discover a preference when you explore the various types of candle wax available. Some popular choices are beeswax, soy, paraffin, palm, and bayberry. Each wax has specific properties, such as beeswax has a longer burn time or soy wax is made from a sustainable resource.

Candles with pattern in the shape of beeswax alveoli

Choose a Perfect Candle for a Specific Purpose

There are so many options for candles. Once you understand the types of candles available, you can choose the perfect one for your purpose.

Types of Candles: An Everyday Guide to Different Styles