tealights & votive candles: know the difference, get the best burn
Have you ever considered the difference between tealights and votives? Tealights are made to burn inside small cup containers and votive candles are not. This distinction is pretty straightforward, but it turns out that there is a little bit of science behind it!
Votives have a lower melting point and are intended to be placed in votive holders where the wax can totally melt - liquefy - onto the surface of the holder and then be fully 'consumed' by a flaming wick.
Because votives melt directly onto the surfaces of votive holders, you want the inside of your holder to be tapered or bowl-shaped so that liquid wax can pool towards the center and be drawn up the wick, where it will burn away. A votive holder with flat sides or corners on the inside will not do this. The liquid wax won’t move towards the wick, and when the wick burns down completely, you’ll have a mess of unused wax to clean up.
*Tip: when buying a votive holder, also consider that smaller is better. It should be no wider than twice the diameter of the votive candle. This and the correct inside shape will help reduce the amount of unused wax left over when the wick has burned down.
Tealights are smaller and a little more versatile because the flame and wax are contained in a metal or plastic cup. You can put them in any type of holder and when the wax is consumed, there is no residue left inside the holder. You just toss the cup.
Keep in mind that plastic clear cup tealights are generally more decorative than the traditional aluminum cup version, because the clear plastic won’t detract from your holder. So for a clean look, you probably want to avoid using metal cups inside a clear glass holder. However, you'll see that some metal cup tealights will burn longer than those in plastic cups, like the 8-hour tealights, below. They'll keep the party going!
Many candle holders are made to hold both tealights and votives, so when you’re deciding which one to use, remember that tealights are self-contained in those little cups, while votives are larger and meant to burn directly onto the surface of votive holders. Plan accordingly and enjoy your candles!
For more details on getting the best out of your candles, check out this post.