What Is a Taper Candle? Adding Elegance to Your Décor

Published May 5, 2021
Set of 5 taper candles

Taper candles offer you an elegant way to enjoy candlelight. These tall narrow candles have a long history of illuminating churches, homes, special occasions, and romantic dinners.

The Elegance of Taper Candles

A taper candle can be scented or unscented. It presents as a long slender cylindrical shape that is wider at the base and tapers into a narrow tip. The taper diameter can range from ½" to 3". The average heights are between 6" and 18". However, some candle companies specialize in taller candles and make tapers as tall as 39".

Types of Wax

Paraffin and beeswax are the best waxes for a taper candle. These two waxes are able to hold shape while burning. Beeswax is more expensive than paraffin. You might find some blended tapers containing paraffin and beeswax blend. Soy candles don't perform well for a taper candle since the soy wax isn't staple enough and has a lower melting point. However, you might come across a soy and paraffin blend.

Beeswax candles

Candle Drips and Solutions

Unlike votives or pillar candles, the melted wax reservoir of a taper is tiny. The taper is designed so the flame will burn up all the melted wax as quickly as it melts. Drafts can cause the flame to dance about the tip of the candle and burn away the outer wall of the candle that typically contains the melt wax until the flame burns it off.

Drips do happen with many tapers. However, a dripless taper has additives to make the outer wall stronger, so it can contain the melted wax. This sturdier outer wall can better resist the heat of a flickering flame. Unfortunately, even dripless candles can overflow due to inconsistent burning from drafts.

You may prefer to use a taper candle guard when burning these candles. The guards are either glass or metal. The glass collar is known as a bobeche that fits inside the candle stick or chandelier candle socket. This design often allows for crystal prisms to be hung from the rim to add a bit more sparkle to the candle ambience. Church taper candles and those used for candle vigils often have a heavy paper candle guard to protect your hands from drips.

Burn Time for Tapers

The burn times for tall tapers can be as much as four hours. However, the determining factors are the candle height, type of wax, and one of the most important factors - type of wick.

The most common type of wick for a taper candle is a flat braided one. This wick design provides a reliable steady burn. This wick will curl as it burns, providing a self-trimming effect. A square braid is often used with beeswax candles. The square shape produces a larger and more robust candle flame.

Hand-Dipped vs. Mold

Hand-dipped candles are more expensive since they require more time and effort. This traditional way of creating tapers begins by dipping the wick into melted wax. The wick is removed from the vat and the wax allowed to dry before dipping it back into the wax. This process can be repeated as many as 30-40 times before the wax has formed enough layers for the desired candle diameter.

Many companies create two candles connected by one wick. This is call looping and allows two candles to be made at one time. Candles can be dipped into the same single color, or different colors can be used at various points to create a unique colored candle. The candles are sold as a pair and before you can use them, you have to snip the wick to separate the pair.

The other method for creating taper candles is to pour the wax into a mold with the wick centered inside the mold. This candle making process allows for various decorations to be added in the candle, such as pine needles, beads, herbs, and even small flowers. It also ensures conformity in the candle.

Spiral or Twist Designs

Another taper design is known as twist or spiral. This taper looks exactly as its name implies. If you're looking for a taper that isn't quite as formal as a smooth taper, the spiral taper can provide a different twist to your candelabrum or candlestick.

Spiral candles

Elusive History of Taper Candles

It's believed that the Romans made the first wick candles sometime around 500 BC. They mostly used tallow, but beeswax was also used occasionally. The wicks were made of papyrus and were repeatedly dipped in the melted tallow or beeswax, creating the familiar shape of the modern taper.

When to Use Tapers

You can use taper candles for any occasion. They are a favorite choice for churches that use candelabra. If you have a fireplace mantel, you can anchor it with a candelabrum on each end.

  • Matching your candles to your home decor is a great way to add a pop of color as well as repeat an accent color.
  • A pair of candelabra on a dining table will transform your dinner party into an enchanting meal.
  • Wedding receptions, anniversary parties, various holiday celebrations are perfect events for taper candles.
  • The ambience of a taper candle is a perfect centerpiece for a romantic dinner for two.

Allure of Taper Candles

There is a mystical ambience when taper candles are lit at an evening dinner, or celebration. The various small points of light they make when placed in a candelabrum make the surrounding area appear to sparkle alive.

What Is a Taper Candle? Adding Elegance to Your Décor