What Diameter Hole Is Needed For A Tea Candle?

Tea candles are small candles often used for decorative purposes around the home or for ambiance. The diameter of the hole at the top of the container the candle sits in impacts how the candle burns. The right sized hole is important to ensure proper melting of the wax and an even burn.

Standard Tea Candle Sizes

Tea candles come in a variety of standard sizes. The most common are:

  • Regular tea candles – These are around 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) in diameter and 1.25 inches (3.2 cm) tall.
  • Mini tea candles – These are around 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter and 1 inch (2.5 cm) tall.
  • Votive candles – These are a bit wider at 1.5-2 inches (3.8-5 cm) in diameter but shorter, around 0.75-1 inch (1.9-2.5 cm) tall.

So regular tea candles tend to be the tallest, while votive candles are the widest. Mini tea candles are the smallest in both height and diameter.

Recommended Hole Diameter

When creating a hole for a tea candle, it is recommended to make the diameter approximately 1/8″ (or 3mm) larger than the candle’s diameter. This provides enough oxygen flow for the candle’s flame to burn cleanly and completely down to the bottom of the wax.

For example, a standard tea candle is about 2″ (50mm) in diameter. Therefore, an ideal hole size would be around 2 1/8″ (53mm) in diameter. This extra breathing room prevents the flame from being smoothered and allows hot gases to vent properly.

Having a hole diameter slightly larger than the candle maximizes burn time. Too small of a hole restricts oxygen and can cause tunneling, while too large wastes wax. An extra 1/8″ clearance is the perfect balance for safety and efficiency.

Too Small of a Hole

When making a tea candle holder, it’s important not to make the hole too small for the candle or issues can arise. If the hole is too narrow for the candle width, it can create difficulty inserting the candle resulting in the wick tunneling down into the wax instead of staying upright. Tunneling causes the wick to be snuffed out by the wax prematurely rather than burning upward as intended. This results in the candle extinguishing well before fully melting all of the wax. A hole that’s too small can also lead to excess build up of heat that makes the metal tea candle container excessively hot.

For proper tea candle function, the hole needs to be wide enough for the wick to stand up straight as the candle burns down. Too small of a hole leads to incomplete and inefficient burning of the wax. This wastes wax since the size of tea candles is designed to fully liquefy while burning over the approximately 4 hour lifespan when the proper sized hole is provided.

Too Large of a Hole

If the hole used for the tea candle is too big, it can create several issues that impact safety and performance:

Excessive Airflow: A hole that is too large will allow too much air to flow into the container holding the tea candle. This extra airflow feeds oxygen to the flame, making it burn larger, hotter, and faster than intended. This can cause the candle to tunnel down quickly and burn unevenly.

Smoke Buildup: The high flames resulting from too much airflow can also produce extra smoke. This buildup of smoke inside the candle holder can be messy and leak out the top.

Blowouts: Large holes that provide high airflow also make blowouts more likely. Gusts of air can hit the flame through the oversized hole and cause it to go out suddenly.

Fire Hazard: Most concerning is that an oversized hole can create a fire hazard. The excess oxygen enables the tea candle to burn much hotter than normal, which can ignite the container it is inside. This can lead to dangerous melting or flames spreading.

Hole Placement

The placement of the hole for a tea candle is important for safety and stability. The best location for the hole is in the exact center of the container. Placing the hole in the center ensures that the burning tea candle sits level and upright inside the holder.

Having an off-center hole risks the candle tipping over to one side as the wax melts. This uneven weight distribution is a fire hazard if the candle tips completely and the flame comes into contact with the container. An off-center hole also allows wax to drip down the side of the holder.

By centering the hole, the tea candle sits evenly and burns straight down into the wax pool. This vertical burn prevents spills and reduces the risk of fire. The candle also gets good airflow with a centered hole, allowing it to burn properly. Take care to precisely measure and cut a centered hole for maximum stability and safety.

Container Material Considerations

The material the container is made out of can impact the ideal diameter for the tea candle hole. This is because different materials conduct heat differently, which affects the melting rate of the candle wax.

Metal conducts heat much better than glass. This means metal containers will warm up faster when the tea candle is lit. The increased heat conductance can accelerate melting of the wax near the metal sides of the container.

Therefore, it’s often recommended to make the hole slightly larger in metal containers compared to glass. This extra space allows more air flow and reduces heat buildup next to the metal sides. A hole diameter approximately 1/8 inch larger in a metal container can help prevent tunneling.

Glass is an insulator and does not conduct heat nearly as well. So glass containers don’t require as large of a hole diameter. The slower heat conductance helps prevent tunneling. Just make sure the hole is still big enough for adequate air flow.

The shape of the container can also impact heat distribution and wax melting. Metal containers with straight sides conduct heat straight up, while more rounded shapes disperse heat more evenly. Adjust hole size accordingly.

Safety Tips

When using tea candles, it’s important to keep safety in mind. Here are some tips to help prevent accidents and injuries:

  • Always supervise burning candles. Never leave a lit tea candle unattended.

  • Make sure to place tea candle holders on a heat-safe surface. Avoid flammable materials like wood, plastic or paper.

  • Keep candles away from drafts, vents or air currents to prevent the flame from getting too large.

  • Keep out of reach of children and pets.

  • Make sure the candle is completely extinguished before leaving the room.

  • Consider using battery-operated flameless candles for unattended or long-term use.

  • Have a plan to extinguish the candle if needed – keep a snuffer, damp cloth or plate nearby.

Following basic precautions will help ensure you can safely enjoy tea candles.

Example Containers

When selecting containers for tea candles, it’s important to choose ones that have the appropriate sized holes. Here are some good options:

  • Glass votive holders – These often come in sets and have holes in the top that are around 1.5 inches wide, perfect for most tea candles.

  • Small glass jars or tins – Jam jars, mini mason jars, and mint tins work well. The openings tend to be around 1.5-2 inches.

  • Tea light candle holders – These are specifically designed for tea lights. They come in various materials like metal, glass, and ceramic.

  • Mini terracotta pots – The drainage holes in 2-3 inch pots make great tea light holders.

The key is to avoid containers with openings smaller than 1.5 inches or larger than 2 inches to ensure proper burning and safety.


To summarize, the ideal hole diameter for a tea candle is 1-2 inches wide. This provides enough oxygen for the candle to burn properly, while also keeping the flame steady and centralized.

A hole that is too small can lead to tunneling, dripping wax, and a weakened flame. On the flip side, an oversized hole allows too much airflow and can result in a short burn time or the flame blowing out frequently.

For maximum safety and burn time, aim for a hole diameter in the 1-2 inch range. Avoid going much smaller or larger than this. And make sure to place the hole toward the center of the container at least an inch from the bottom and sides.

With the proper sized hole, tea candles can provide many hours of steady and safe illumination in a decorative holder.

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