Votives: mini pillar or container candle?

August 28, 2018

Is a votive a container candle, or a pillar?

Is a votive a mini pillar or a container candle?

Only the Candle-Maker Knows for Sure

You may never have asked yourself this question before and even if you did, the truth about votive candles is that only the candle-maker knows for sure what type of candle that votive really is. If you look at pictures on the internet of votives, you will see a number of ways they are displayed in photographs. They can be free-standing on a little pillar plate; they may be pictured in a larger candle holder with lots of open space around them; or they may be in a small, snug votive holder. Unless your votive came with specific instructions on how to burn that candle correctly, the safest thing to do is to burn a votive in a snug-fitting votive holder. The reason? Most votives are made to be burned as a container candle and not a mini-pillar.

Wicks Are the Reason

Since there are hundreds of different types of candle wicks to be used for candle-making, the size and type of wick will determine how that candle will burn. An experienced candle-maker will decide on the most appropriate type of wick to make the candle burn for a long time, with the prettiest flame and burn as safely as possible. The type of wick chosen for votives will determine if the candle will burn completely across the top of the candle or only part of the way. If you place a votive in a larger holder that does not hug the entire votive from top to bottom, or on a pillar plate, that votive will most likely burn down into a puddle and either be ruined, or burn for a much shorter time than you had expected. If that happens, it was because the votive was made to liquefy completely across the top of the candle and that requires a snug-fitting votive holder to contain the liquid melt pool. A votive that was made to be a container candle should burn like a container candle and have a pretty wax pool completely across the top layer of the container.

Should Votives Be a Mini Pillar?

That’s a debate that has been discussed among candle-makers for a very long time. Wicks need a certain amount of air flow to burn optimally and when a votive is inside a glass container, it burns beautifully until the candle gets deeper into the votive holder. At this point, the wick is not getting the same type of air it had when the candle was taller in the container and begins to flicker and reach up towards the air. The votive will still burn and be an enjoyable candle, but it would have a steadier flame if it didn’t have to reach up for air when lower inside a container. Regardless of what we think a votive should be, the reality is that the majority of votives sold today are made as container candles.

So, What Should I Do?

For the longest and safest burn for your votives, only burn them in a votive holder that will hug the entire candle, allowing a pretty melt pool to form entirely across the top of the votive. Unless the votive came with specific instructions to do otherwise, assume it is made to burn like a container candle.

Remember the Melt Pool Rule!

Burn your votive long enough to create a full melt pool across the top of the candle before extinguishing, or your votive will start to tunnel.

Thanks for taking a minute to read our blog, we hope you found it helpful.

Bee Cozy

Please sign up for our newsletter for more candle tips, product previews and special promotions.

Also in Flicker: the Candle Blog

Beeswax Tealights
Fragrance-Free vs Unscented: There IS a Difference

March 30, 2019

There are chemical-free candles available but you need to know how to recognize them.

Continue Reading

The Melt Pool Rule by Big Moon Beeswax
How to Prevent Candle Tunneling

March 15, 2019

Have you ever burned a pillar candle with the hopes of enjoying it for many days, only to find that your beautiful beeswax pillar tunneled straight down? This is why ... 

Continue Reading


October 17, 2018

Even the best wax can't save a candle with the wrong wick. What to look for when buying your next beeswax candle.

Continue Reading