Candles come in a dizzying array of shapes and sizes. Each type has it's own qualities and uses, but which one to choose?
Tea lights are probably the most commonly used candles. They are self-contained, small candles usually produced in metal, or polycarbonate containers approx 40mm in diameter. They're very versatile little candles with a multitude of uses from catering table warmers to oil burners, to mood lighting and discouraging bugs (with the addition of Citronella essential oil).
Pillar candles are created in moulds, but need to be able to support their own weight and stand rigid and straight once released from the mould. They often have stearin or vybar added to the wax to give them the rigidity, or a specialised 'pillar'wax is often available that has everything you need included in the blend.
Pillar candles come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, but they are a uniform width all the way up to the top which makes it a bit easier to calculate the size wick you'll need.
Pyramid candles taper from a wide base up to a point at the top. This does create something of a 'wicking' problem. If you wick to suit the base, then you're going to be badly over-wicked at the top, possibly causing a fair amount of soot. If you wick to suit the top, then once you get a little way down the candle you are going to be 'under-wicked', burn a tunnel straight down and waste a lot of the wax. A happy medium is to wick for the center diameter, or use 2 wicks and only light the second one once it's burned down a little way.
Spherical candles are just such a lovely shape. A nice round ball that gives a good contrast against other shapes if you use them in a group. Again choosing a wick size is a bit more difficult because the top is smaller that the middle. Try using a wick with a slightly smaller melt pool diameter than the actual diameter of the candles widest point, and see how you get on. Once you know the size that gives the best results for your sphere mould, make a note of it so you can then repeat the process with consistent results.
Novelty candles are candles that don't have a uniform geometric shape. They can be made from plaster cast moulds, household containers, cookie cutters or anything else you can dream up. They can have such varying shapes, it's difficult to wick for burning, so they are often just sold as 'decorative'.
Container candles are designed to be burned in the container they were poured into, not removed like moulded candles. A special 'container' wax is widely available to the candle maker, which is much softer than standard paraffin wax, has a lower melt point and adheres well to the edges. The lower melt point has the added advantage of reducing the shrinkage during cooling, so candles made with container wax often only need one pour.
These candles are a bit of a novelty, but can be so creative and easy to make they are an absolute delight! They can be made by pouring wax into trays, waiting until the wax is set - but not completely hard - and then cut into shapes using cookie cutters. They can be stacked, stacked and rotated, left un-wicked and used as ornaments - the possibilities are endless.
Hurricane Candles - Or Luminaries
Hurricane candles are made using a hard, high-melt wax to produce a 'shell'. They literally are just a shell, with separate tea light or votive candles (in a container) set inside for burning. The candle flame from the inside candle shines through the hurricane 'shell' giving the most wonderful glow. The 'shell' with it's hard wax, isn't melted by the heat from the burning tea light, which means you can use beautiful decorative embeds such as skeleton leaves, paper shapes or botanicals captured inside the
Candles designed to go on celebration cakes are miniature candles, they're not meant to burn for long periods, usually just as long as it takes to get the cake to the table! Traditional cake candles are made by 'drawing' wick through trays of hot wax, but modern candles can also be moulded shapes set onto cocktail sticks.