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The Best Types of Candles for Every Occassion

types of candles

Candles are my jam! Their cute jars add a little extra something to your home decor, they transform any unloved room into a cozy haven, and make me reminisce with scents reminding me of special times.

I usually stick to the same lemon, lavender and woodsy smells but having browsed new potential scents recently, I still can’t wrap my head around the number of different types of candles and (partly obnoxious) scents there are (Goop’s $75 “This smells like my v***** ” candle, anyone?).

If you’ve reached your monthly threshold of candle consumption, you can always disguise your addiction as “shopping for friends” because they make great thoughtful gifts.

With so many different kinds of candles, type of scents for candles, and types of candle wax, it can be confusing and overwhelming to choose the right one for you.

I’ve broken down everything you need to know in different categories, so you’ll never have to close out of your browser window in surrender again when faced with which wax you should choose. 

Kinds of Candles

First off, you’ll have to decide whether you want real candles or flameless, battery operated candles. While real candles usually provide a more authentic and cozy atmosphere (and smell), flameless candles can be a better option if you have kids in the house, no time to monitor them, or simply can’t be bothered.

Types of Wax Candles

With the sheer options of different wax candles available, there’s a couple things to consider before choosing the right one. Here’s the most common ones.

Tea Lights

Lightweight, inexpensive and versatile – tea lights are often lit on their own, in a glass container, floating in water, or arranged into text for events, anniversaries, and the like.

Votives

Votives are similar to tea lights in that they are inexpensive and versatile. Their bigger size allows for a longer burn time.

Pillars

These types of wax candles come in a huge variety of diameters and height, and therefore provide much longer burning times. Pillars are preferably used in groups in varying sizes as a centerpiece – or romantic music videos from the ’90’s.

Taper Candles

Taper candles are long and slender and originally known as window candles. These are often used in weddings because they make beautiful table centerpieces and add a classic and elegant touch.

Birthday Candles

Birthday candles are, of course, some of the most classic wax candles and probably the first introduction we have to wax candles as kids.

These type of candles are generally small, narrow and come in a variety of colors to personalize cakes and presents.

Cartridge Candles

Similar to taper candles, cartridge candles are long, slender and classic. Even though these two types of wax candles look similar, cartridge candles don’t drip and remain the same height.

Wax Filled Glass Candles

Wax filled glass candles can make for beautiful decor by adding intricate shadow play and colors to the room, depending on the pattern and style of the glass the candles comes in. These are great for mess-free ambiance without damaging tables from the wax.

Fuel Cartridges

These are similar to wax filled glass candles, coming in a range of sizes and shapes without risking to ruin your table. Pretty either on their own or when added to candle lamps.

Floating Candles

Floating candles come in lots of sizes and colors to best match your aesthetic. Large on top and small on the bottom, simply place these in a bowl or vase filled with water.

Types of Candle Wax

Not all waxes are the same and depending on your preference, you might want to choose one over another to match your vibe. There’s six different types of candle wax – have a look at their differences and similarities.

Paraffin Wax Candles

Most commonly used, Paraffin has a high melting point, which makes it preferable for votives and tall candles because they need strength and rigidity. It’s a byproduct of petroleum and almost all candle scents are formulated specifically for paraffin candles.

Best for: Most common and widely available

Soy Wax Candles

Soy candles—like our personal favorite Hotel Lobby Candle—have one big advantage over most other types of candles: they burn at a cooler temperature and therefore allow them to last longer. 

Best for: Long burn

Palm Wax Candles

If you’re concerned about sustainability, palm wax candles are a good option because they’re biodegradable.

Best for: Biodegradable

Beeswax Candles

Beeswax candles have increasingly grown more popular in recent years with the rise of eco-consciousness. These candles help clean the air by burning pollutants that cause allergies and asthma. They also burn longer than both paraffin and soy wax candles.

Best for: Eco-friendly

Bayberry Wax Candles

Bayberry wax candles are most often used for holiday scented candles because of their natural, refreshing aroma. They are eco-friendly and combined with beeswax candles, making them more rigid.

Best for: Holiday candles

Liquid Wax Candles

If you’re not a fan of smoke or cleaning up melted wax, liquid candles might be your preferred option.

Best for: Minimal mess

Types of Candle Wicks

Candle wicks might not be the first thing that comes to mind when starting your search for the perfect candle, but they actually make a bigger difference than you might think. 

Tip: Trim them before each burn.

Cotton and Paper Core Wicks

Usually used with wax filled glass candles, cotton and paper core wicks burn hot and create more melted wax.

Metal Cored Wicks

Metal cored wicks are the most commonly used type of wick, specifically for votive and pillar candles, and are non-toxic.

Wood Wicks

The most environmentally-friendly of them all: wood wicks. They don’t require trimming and produce a slight crackling sound as they burn, just like a real fire. Cozy!

Types of Scents for Candles

Whenever visiting Target, you’ve probably found yourself smelling all 78 candles in the home decor section. From earthy, floral, chocolate cake and blueberry pie to fruity, ocean breeze and peanut butter – chances are there’s a candle scent for everything – including some you’d rather forget knowing of (looking at you, Goop). 

My favorite candle scents:

Some of my favorite brands for cute and great smelling candles are H&M Home and Anthropology – their candles also make great gifts!

Capri Blue Iridescent Jar Candle

One of my absolute favorites. Tropical smell with notes of orchids, jasmine and gardenia with a burn time of 85 hours.

types of candles Blue Jar Candle Anthropologie

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Brooklinen Scented Candles

Comes in four different perfect scents to freshen up your bedroom and they each burn for 50-60 hours, despite their small size!

Brooklinen candles

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Byredo Bibliotheque Candle

Smells like an old library book – you either love it or hate it.

bibliotheque candle

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Types of Flameless Candles

Just like wax candles, battery operated candles most commonly come in the shape and form of tea lights, votives and pillars. These are a great option with kids in the house or when you’re on the move as they’re lightweight and small enough to travel with.


Livia Boerger is a German London-based travel content creator passionate about trying new things. She helps travelers navigate adventure and mindfulness while sharing genuine travel guides and tips on her blog. Follow her here: @livandwander

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. As always, I only recommend products that I truly love and would use myself.

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