How Long Do Tea Lights Burn (And Can They Be Left Alone)?

How Long Do Tea Lights Burn

When it comes to creating low-cost, ambient lighting for any occasion, tea lights are always a great choice.

They are versatile enough to be used indoors and outdoors due to their small size and ease of placement.

But how long do these little flames burn anyway?

In this blog post, we’ll explore how long tea lights last and the factors that influence their burn time.

What Are Tea Lights?

Tea lights were originally used to keep tea warm – in teapot warmers – hence the word ‘tea’ light.

From their humble origins, they have now made their way into all types of uses – from decorating your space to warming fondue, purifying the air, accent lighting, and aromatherapy.

Technically a tea light is a small candle contained in a cup – typically made of thin metal or plastic. They usually measure a small 1.5″ in diameter and about .5″ in height.

Due to their small size and inconspicuous design, a tea light can fit in pretty much any space, and can burn in the cup they are already in or placed in a more decorative holder.

Because of this, you can find tea lights commonly used in large gatherings where space is limited and safety is a priority.

There are many kinds of tea lights floating around the market today consisting of different types of waxes in a variety of containers. This gives you the flexibility of getting ambiance from a basic paraffin wax tealight in an aluminum container or purchasing something more extravagant and decorative.

How Long Do Tea Lights Burn?

The average burn time for a tea light can be anywhere from 2 – 6 hours.

This is influenced by some key factors:

  • The type of wax used. Many tea lights use unscented paraffin wax which typically burns quicker than more boutique tea lights that use natural wax such as beeswax.
  • The quality of the wax and wick. A low-quality tea light tends to burn quicker and suffer uneven burns which can lead to quicker wax melting and therefore a lower burn time.

Whilst you may think that it is best to get tea lights that last longer, such as those using beeswax, you’ll notice that they are significantly more expensive. Generic tea lights with paraffin wax make up for a shorter burn time with simply how many of them you can purchase for the same price as a more expensive tea light.

Do Tea Light Candles Burn Out On Their Own?

Tea lights do burn themselves out and are safe to do so since they have their own containers. This is exactly one of the reasons why they are so popular. A ‘set it and forget it’ candle.

However; we do recommend keeping an eye on them on occasion as flammable debris may get too close to them. This is especially prevalent at events where there are lots of people and decorations.

Tea Lights And Fire Hazards

Anything with a flame poses a potential fire hazard, and tea lights are no different.

Tea lights can get very hot, so much so that in some cases the extreme heat can deform the metal or plastic cup causing a spillage that can potentially light up the surrounding area.

Consider the following tips to ensure the safe usage of tea lights:

  • Place your tea lights on a level surface that is fire-resistant such as stones, tiles, or plates.
  • Position your tea lights in areas that are away from flammable items like curtains, paper, and napkins.
  • You may purchase specific containers for tea lights for added safety. Such containers can also provide a decorative look on top of the ambiance already provided.

Ensuring the tea lights can burn safely will mean you can let them burn out by themselves. Though it always pays to keep an eye on them in case flammable debris falls nearby.

Tea Lights Vs. Votives

Some people get confused thinking votives and tea lights are the same things. They are actually different types of candles with crucial differences.

Votives burn longer than tea lights and contain roughly three times the amount of wax at 2 ounces and will burn for 10 – 15 hours.

Votives are more expensive and come in their own containers. For this reason, they are more reusable than tea lights and may be favored for more extended events. They are also suitable for home decor as they can add more ambiance to a room, thanks to a larger flame and stylish container.

Do’s And Don’ts For Tea Lights

If you are thinking of using tea lights, make sure to keep these tips in mind to ensure their proper use:

  1. For additional safety, purchase a container for your tea lights. Avoid glass containers as much as possible due to their susceptibility to crack or break under extreme heat.
  2. Place tea lights on fire-resistant surfaces.
  3. Keep tea lights out of reach of children or pets.
  4. Ensure that no flammable debris can reach the candle.
  5. Do not move a burning tea light to avoid the hot, liquefied wax from spilling. Let the hot wax fully cool before moving the candle.
  6. If possible, blow out a tea light before it burns out to prevent the container from melting (and possible spillage).
  7. Whilst tea lights can be left alone, it makes for a good habit to check on them from time to time.

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