A Candle Buying Guide: Choosing The Right Type Of Candle For Your Occasion 

Candle Types

Candles are one of the most sought-after forms of ambiance and light worldwide. Their increasing popularity as a form of self-care for their aromatherapy health benefits has been growing in recent years and is expected to continue for a good reason. 

The many scent choices stimulate our emotions which can help regulate our moods in times of stress. Relaxing sounds similar to a fireplace with crackling wood logs can give a feeling of calmness only found in nature. Waxy sticks on a birthday cake spark childhood joy and a tall candle or two add a special touch when they’ve been lit just before dinner.

We know there are plenty of reasons to love a good candle, but with so many options, how do you choose the perfect one for your event or everyday use?

Find Your Type

If you’re someone who consistently finds yourself lost at Target smelling unlimited candle options, confused by the various shapes and sizes, but unsure of which candle to incorporate with your bubble bath or special occasion, this guide of 20 different candle options is for you.

1. Scented Candles

Scented candles provide you with the ultimate escape. They offer a warm glow and fragrance that gives your space a true identity, creating a multi-sensory experience and heightening your ambiance goals.

Oftentimes scented candles deliver a nice aesthetic and help shape the style of your room. They are great centerpieces for coffee tables or bookshelves that incorporate charming accents sold in various shapes and sizes.

Why We Love Them:

  • Scented candles provide unlimited scent options
  • They have a beautiful design element


  • Strong scents can cause headaches
  • Scented candles have a tendency to burn faster

2. Soy Candles

Soy candles are made from non-toxic, all-natural, and organic materials. They are growing in popularity as locally owned businesses are sourcing soybean oil along with naturally scented ingredients producing a candle that offers pleasant aromas and cool-toned light.

If you prefer products that are safe and environmentally friendly, soy candles are for you. They are biodegradable and use zero chemicals to carry a breezy fragrance throughout your space. They will be a guaranteed crowd pleaser during any event because they are the perfect, natural choice for a light, clean, well-balanced scent and burn.

Why We Love Them:

  • Soy candles have a natural ingredient list
  • They have a long-lasting burn


  • Soy can shrink or expand in humidity or high heat
  • Soy is not flexible with certain types of oils so scent options may be limited

3. Citronella Candles

If shopping for your next outdoor barbeque event is on your list and you are looking for a clean candle with a purpose, citronella is your best bet. Citronella candles are made from the essential oil citronella grass, which is a type of lemongrass. This is a natural form of bug repellent, making it a nice alternative option to unwanted harsh chemical smells during your event.

Citronella candles have an appealing outdoor aesthetic available for purchase in small buckets, tins, or even mason jars. This type of candle is only to be used outside since it produces more smoke than indoor candles which is one of the ways it helps deter pesky insects. 

Why We Love Them:

  • Citronella is made from an essential oil making them generally clean and safe
  • Natural bug repellent


  • They are more effective in calm weather conditions
  • The area of bug repellent is only as wide as the candle smoke

4. Beeswax Candles

Consumers who know the benefits of beeswax candles rarely purchase anything else. Beeswax is made from pure, natural ingredients produced by honeybees. Candles made from this substance have been valued for hundreds of years and have many compelling benefits.

Unlike other candles, beeswax candles can be used to purify the air in your home making it a great option for those of us with allergies, asthma, or respiratory and sinus sensitivities.

Beeswax emits a beautiful scent that will fill your room with a light honey-like aroma as well as adding a warm golden color and glow wherever they’re placed.

Why We Love Them:

  • Because beeswax is so dense, it burns longer and drips less
  • Beeswax has air purifying benefits


  • The scent of beeswax may be too light for some
  • Higher price point

5. Floating Candles

Where can you incorporate floating candles? Anywhere there is water! They help create the ultimate romantic experience when added to any pool, bathtub, bowl, or vase. Their unique 2-3 inch diameter and round shape allow them to float wherever they are placed adding a special touch to your intimate event.

Floating candles can be purchased in a variety of colors and are usually unscented. Place your glowing light carefully in the water of your choice to avoid getting the wick wet and enjoy a flame that can last up to 10 hours.

Why We Love Them:

  • Floating candles are a unique way to add light to water 
  • They produce a long-lasting burn


  • Candles might tip in moving water
  • Floating candles are a single-use purchase item

6. Tealights

Tealights are used for a variety of purposes usually focusing around existing decor. You can accent paintings and centerpieces such as floral arrangements by surrounding them with tealights, adding an elegant touch. They are usually inexpensive and can be conveniently purchased in bulk since they don’t usually burn for an extended period of time.

Providing a surprising amount of heat and light, tealights were originally used to keep tea and food warm. They have a burn time of 3-5 hours making them an efficient option when used for this purpose.

Made from white wax molded into a tin cup, tealights are easy to add to any service station or holiday decor.

Why We Love Them:

  • They provide an elegant and simple look
  • You can easily purchase many of them so they are great for large events


  • They could be a fire hazard if not carefully placed at your event
  • Tealights should not be left unattended

7. Aromatherapy Candles

Aromatherapy candles are different from scented candles because they are made with pure essential oils that have therapeutic benefits and healing properties. When inhaling natural scents like lemon or eucalyptus, you might feel revitalized or soothed, easing your mind and alleviating stress.

When choosing an aromatherapy candle, do some research on essential oils and ones you might prefer to enjoy while you meditate or read a book. For example, lavender essential oil delivers a calming scent that will promote a good night’s rest or a relaxing bubble bath.

Aromatherapy candles are usually made with a soy base which will give you a longer burn time so you can enjoy this candle option for several hours.

Why We Love Them:

  • They have therapeutic, self-care benefits
  • Aromatherapy candles have natural ingredients


  • You might have to do your research to make sure the brand you choose is all-natural
  • Higher price point

8. Gel Candles

Popular in uniquely decorated areas, gel candles give more character to your space. Made from resin and mineral oil, they have a clear look that allows you to see through the gel. You can find gel candles made with shells inside or dried fruit that incorporate colors to add to your current decor.

Gel candles also make great gifts since they can be customized or easily made yourself with a special personal touch. Gel candles usually have a minimal scent and a rich burn that lasts for hours.

Why We Love Them:

  • They make great, customizable gifts
  • Gel candles provide a unique design element


  • Gel candles can be hazardous if a scent pocket forms in the gel
  • They are made with synthetic materials

9. Flameless Candles

The secret behind these magic faux candles is the moving wicks powered by a battery atop a waterproof plastic look-alike candle cylinder. With flameless candles, you get the look and feel of a wax candle, without any of the fire risk. They are safe, clean, and require very little maintenance.

Flameless candles often have rechargeable batteries so you will only have to make a single purchase. They are great for both indoor and outdoor events, and no matter the weather or your availability, flameless candles will provide a soft glow and flickering ambiance to your event.

Why We Love Them:

  • Flameless candles are rechargeable and reusable
  • They can be used inside or outside in rain, wind, or shine


  • Flameless candles do not have scent options available
  • There is a faulty wiring possibility that could result in needing to re-purchase

10. Birthday Candles

Candles on cakes have been a popular tradition dating back centuries. Some cultures would place a single candle in the center of a cake to symbolize “the light of life” while others believed the smoke from candles would carry their wishes and eventually come true. To this day, candles hold a special place with birthday cakes.

The birthday candle has evolved over the years from basic sticks to multi-color and shape choices. Rather than have the number of candles on your cake for everyone to count your age, you can buy anything from dinosaur-shaped candles for the kids to ones that simply spell “happy birthday!”

Why We Love Them:

  • Birthday candles provide tradition and joy
  • There are many color and shape options

Draw Backs:

  • Birthday candles are quick to melt
  • They may leave a waxy residue on your cake

11. Taper Candles

Taper candles are slender, cylindrical candles that are among the oldest forms of illumination in the world, dating back to around 3000 BC. The image of taper candles in elaborate candelabras is often seen in movies, giving them an elegant and timeless look.

Because their height is around 12 inches tall, taper candles are best suited in centerpiece areas such as the center of a dinner table. You can place taper candles in any holder that speaks to you, and play with the order of height and color as you prepare for your candlelit meal. Taper candles can provide a beautiful cascading effect depending on how you place them, adding to the romance.

Why We Love Them:

  • Taper candles have a vast color variety
  • They provide an elegant ambiance


  • Taper candles drip during use
  • They need to be carefully placed to avoid a fire hazard

12. Wood Wick Candles

Most candles have a cotton wick, while wood candle wicks come from a combination of cherry, oak, birch, maple, balsa, or rosewood. Most people love a good wood wick candle because of the crackling sound they create while burning, much like a campfire. If you’re a fellow nature lover, this will be a beautiful sound to enjoy as you wind down after a long day at work.

There are more benefits to wood-burning wicks than the soothing popping sounds they create. Wood wicks have a longer lifespan than cotton because the wood will burn at a slower rate. Because wood wicks are so small, they are also a sustainable option since thousands of them can come from one tree!

Why We Love Them:

  • Wood wick candles provide relaxing sounds
  • They are environmentally friendly


  • Wood wicks should be trimmed often
  • Tunneling wax around the wick can leave the outer wax unmelted

13. Pillar Candles

These candles are tall, thick, and sturdy providing a nice, striking look to your space. Pillar candles can come with a variety of wicks per candle, in many color options, and are made from a dense wax that gives you a longer burn time.

Pillar candles could be used to add a little romance to your anniversary or Valentine’s Day, and also look great inside or outside. They’ve been known to be used inside lanterns for wedding centerpieces, yard decor, or around a fireplace. Pillar candles are self-supporting, but will also look great in elegant holders around flower arrangements to set your scene. 

Why We Love Them:

  • Pillar candles have many versatile use options 
  • They provide a long-lasting burn


  • No scent options available
  • The wax can soften if they are placed in an area with too much light and heat

14. Votive Candles

What is a votive candle? They are generally small in stature, white, and unscented.

Although votives can stand on their own, they are made for purchase and sold in containers. Votive candles can be made from paraffin, soy, or beeswax.

These little candles are a simple and cost-effect way to add a gentle ambiance to your home, restaurant, or event year-round. They are perfect for creating mood lighting at a table setting or in between vases to create a subtle, intimate glow.

Why We Love Them:

  • Votive candles are cost-effective
  • They provide a cozy ambient lighting


  • Trimming the wick is needed to avoid soot on the glass holder
  • Removing wax from holders is needed prior to reuse

15. Multiple Wick Candles

Two or three-wick candles are growing in popularity because of their many benefits over single-wick designs. Because they have several wicks, they burn brighter giving the area you place them in more light.

If you love a good scented candle, you might have noticed that your single wick choice doesn’t always melt through the wax and you toss it before it’s been fully enjoyed. Multiple wick candles will solve this by evenly burning the scented wax so that none of it gathers or goes to waste inside the jar.

Why We Love Them:

  • They give off a brighter light
  • Multiple wick candles evenly burn and give off stronger scents


  • A stronger smell may cause headaches
  • Higher price point

16. Container Candles

As the name suggests, container candles are candles sold in containers such as glass, jars, or tin. They are made, stored, and burned inside these containers that usually come with lids making them easy for transport and keeping the scents fresh.

Because there are so many container options, this one is a popular choice when adding to your home decor. You can choose from packagings like glass or metal and in various shapes and heights. You can find these scented candles in a container shaped like a yellow autumn leaf or red glass heart.

Why We Love Them:

  • Containers come in many shapes and color varieties
  • There are plenty of scent options to choose from


  • Scents can be overwhelming without lids
  • Scents can transfer to other objects when stored without lids

17. Sparklers

Sparklers are essentially mini-fireworks that burn for about a minute or so. They burst at the end of a long stick providing bright light and smoke to be held during events like New Years’ Eve or The Fourth Of July. Sparklers come in a variety of festive colors such as pink, gold, silver, and even rainbow.

Along with the many different colors, there are also several different options for sparklers. Depending on your event, you can purchase indoor sparklers to be used on a wedding cake or you can go with outdoor sparklers for your guests to hold during your send-off making it a magical experience as you wave goodbye!

Why We Love Them:

  • Sparklers are fun and memorable
  • They create a magical experience no matter where you use them


  • Sparklers are highly flammable
  • They can cause injury if used incorrectly

18. Paraffin Wax Candles

If you love to DIY and spend time at your local craft store, you’ve likely run into paraffin wax and paraffin wax candles. Paraffin is non-toxic and easy to use if you’re a beginner in candle making, but it’s also a popular choice to purchase as a ready-to-go addition to your space.

Paraffin candles produce a nice flame that burns at a steady pace. Because paraffin is said to release negative ions while lit, the candle will provide cleaner air and extinguish odors in your home, which could be a nice benefit if you have pets!

Why We Love Them:

  • Paraffin is non-toxic
  • It is easy to use if you like DIY candles


  • Paraffin has a shorter burn time
  • It can produce soot that may affect allergies

19. Bayberry Wax Candles

Bayberry wax candles are made from bayberry bushes found in the Northeast near the Atlantic Ocean or rugged coastal areas such as Maine. Bayberry wax candles take more time to make because they are usually blended with other wax such as beeswax and they are ideally reserved for special occasions and popular around the holidays.

So why pick a bayberry wax product when stopping in the candle aisle? True bayberry wax candles are fine quality and olive green in color. They produce minimal smoke, bright light, and faint herbal aromas. Bayberry wax candles are also believed to have medicinal properties and special meanings, making them the perfect gift.

Why We Love Them:

  • Bayberry wax is high quality
  • Candles come in a holiday green color with herbal scents 


  • High price point
  • Bayberry may not be available in all stores year round

20. Trick Candles

Trick candles are best used for birthdays, anniversaries, or any celebration. When added to a cake or special treat, they’re blown out and magically relit within seconds. Trick candles spark joy and laughter for any user as they continue to blow the candle out wondering if it’s the last time.

If you’re not sure how these little sticks work, we’re here to explain. Trick candle wicks are coated with magnesium powder. This powder can reignite itself time and time again before eventually burning out the wick or running it under water. You can find trick candles at most grocery or party supply stores.

Why We Love Them:

  • They add joy to your event
  • They’re a fun twist on the typical birthday cake candle


  • Some trick candles arrive faulty
  • They may be harder to find than regular birthday cake candles

Now that you are an expert, choosing the right size, scent, and material should be a walk in the candle aisle. Searching for candles should be an enjoyable experience and once purchased, reduce the stress we feel in our busy lives. We hope you’re confident in the next candle you choose for everyday use or upcoming events. Happy shopping!

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