What Does Votive Size Mean?

A votive is a type of candle that is generally small in size. The word “votive” comes from the Latin “votum” meaning vow or dedication. Historically, votive candles were used for religious and ceremonial purposes as symbols of prayers, devotion or dedication. People would light votive candles in churches, temples and shrines while saying a prayer or making an offering. The burning candle represented the prayer ascending to heaven. Today, votive candles are still used in religious settings, but are also popular for decorative purposes in homes. Their small size makes them versatile for use in candle holders, lamps, on tables, mantles, windowsills and more.

Typical Uses

Votive candles are a type of small wax candle used in various religious and ceremonial traditions. The word “votive” comes from the Latin “votum” meaning “vow” or “dedication.” Votive candles are commonly used in:

  • Religious ceremonies and rituals – Votive candles are lit to symbolize prayers, hopes, and intentions being sent toward the heavens. They are used in various religions including Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.
  • Memorials and vigils – Votive candles are lit to honor the memory of those who have passed away. They are used to create a peaceful ambiance during memorial services and vigils.
  • Ritual spellwork and magic – In practices like Wicca, votive candles are carved with specific symbols and dressed with oils to release a desired energy or intention into the universe.
  • Aromatherapy and meditation – Votive candles infused with essential oils are burned to create a relaxing or uplifting environment during yoga, meditation, massage, or while soaking in the tub.
  • Home décor – Groups of votive candles are used to decorate the home and create mood lighting for dinner parties, special occasions, or just everyday enjoyment.

Overall, the small size, portability, and spiritual symbolism of votive candles make them a popular tool across many faiths and practices.

Standard Votive Sizes

Votives commonly come in four standard sizes:


Tealights are the smallest size, measuring approximately 1 inch tall by 1.5 inches wide. They are meant to fit snugly in tealight candle holders and are convenient for traveling or small decor accents.

Mini Votive

Mini votives measure about 1.25 inches tall by 1.75 inches wide. They fit mini votive holders and are a nice in-between size, slightly taller than tealights.

Standard Votive

The most popular and widely available size is the standard votive, measuring 1.5 inches tall by 2 inches wide. Standard votive holders and candles are the most common.

Pillar Votive

Pillar votives are the largest common size at 2 inches tall and 2 inches wide. They are meant for pillar holders and provide a taller flame.

Measuring Votive Size

When selecting votive candles, the most important measurements to pay attention to are the diameter, height, and volume.

The diameter refers to the width of the candle’s base. Standard votive candle diameters range from 1 to 2 inches. Smaller diameters around 1 inch are used for tealight candles and votives in small holders. Larger diameters around 1.5 to 2 inches are common for standard votives used in homes, events, and churches.

The height impacts how long the votive will burn. Typical votive candle heights range from 1 to 3 inches. Shorter candles around 1 inch provide up to 5 hours of burn time, while taller 3 inch candles can burn for up to 10 hours.

Volume, measured in ounces, indicates how much wax is contained in the votive. More wax means a longer burn time. Standard volumes are usually 1-2 ounces. Votives labeled as “long-burning” often have 2-3 ounce volumes for extended burn times of up to 15 hours.

So in summary, the diameter, height, and volume specifications all factor into selecting the proper votive size and burn time for your specific needs.

Popular Votive Holders

Votives can be held in a variety of different holders made from materials like glass, metal, and ceramic. Some of the most popular options include:

Glass Votive Holders

Glass votive holders are a classic and elegant choice. They allow the votive candle’s light to shine through beautifully. Glass holders come in countless shapes, sizes, colors, and designs. Clear glass is probably the most common, but colored, frosted, patterned, and etched glass votive holders are also popular.

Metal Votive Holders

Metal votive holders made from iron, tin, aluminum, and other metals add an industrial vibe. Perforated metal holders allow some light to pass through while obscuring the candle itself. Metal holders often have a rustic, vintage look but modern brushed metals are also an option. Metallic finishes like gold, silver, copper and more create glamorous statement pieces.

Ceramic Votive Holders

Ceramic votive holders are handcrafted from clay and glazed in infinite colors and designs. From simple terra cotta to intricate patterns and glossy finishes, ceramic holders are diverse. Ceramic holders retain heat well to help candles burn evenly. Porcelain and stoneware are types of ceramics common for votives.

Votive Size Variations

While most votives are the standard sizes mentioned above, there are some variations to be aware of:


Votive tapers are taller and thinner than traditional votives. They are designed to fit into candle holders for taper candles, and generally range from 2-4 inches tall with a 0.5 inch diameter.


Votive tins refer to votive candles that come nested in a metal tin, similar to a tealight. The tin helps the candle retain its shape and makes it easy to transport. Votive tins are typically 1.25 inches tall.


Some votives are designed specifically for certain candle holders or containers. For example, a “votive in a glass” is made to fit neatly into a glass votive holder. These are shaped differently than standard votives.

Floating Votives

Floating votive candles have a wider diameter at the bottom that tapers up to the wick. This allows them to float on water inside containers like cups, bowls or vases. They generally range from 2-3 inches tall.

Safety Considerations

When working with votive candles, it’s important to keep safety in mind. Improper handling or placement of votives can pose fire hazards. Here are some tips for safe votive use:

  • Always place votives on sturdy, non-flammable surfaces.
  • Avoid putting them near flammable materials like curtains or upholstery.
  • Keep them away from areas where they could be knocked over accidentally.
  • Never leave burning votives unattended.
  • Extinguish votive flames before going to sleep or leaving your home.
  • Carefully follow all manufacturer safety warnings.
  • Keep children and pets safely away from lit votives.
  • Have a plan to quickly extinguish votives if need be.

With some simple precautions, votive candles can be used safely to create warm, beautiful lighting ambiance. But be sure to always make fire safety the top priority when incorporating votives into your home decor.

Votive Size Selection

When selecting a votive size for your needs, there are a few key factors to consider:

Intended Use: Will you be using votives for ambience, lighting, decoration, or to hold fragrance? Smaller votives like 4-hour and 6-hour are ideal for scent diffusion, while taller or wider containers can make more of a decorative statement.

Decoration: The size you choose may depend on the look you want to achieve. For example, clustered groups of small votives can create an intimate feel, while a few oversized votives make a bolder visual impact. Consider height too – taller containers showcase more of the flame.

Duration: Votive burn times typically range from 4 hours on the low end to as long as 24 hours for some large or filled votives. Make sure to match the duration to your needs. For occasional use, opt for shorter burn times. For all evening or longer ambience, choose longer-lasting options.

By factoring in how you plan to use and enjoy your votives, you can decide on the perfect size option for candles, holders, inserts, and more. This ensures your votives will create the experience you desire.

Creative Votive Uses

Creative home decorators, event planners, and interior designers are exploring unique ways to use votives beyond just illumination. While votives have traditionally been used in candle holders for ambiance, their small size makes them perfect for a variety of decorative purposes.

Votives can be used to create stunning centerpieces. Grouped together in clusters of various heights, they form organic, asymmetrical shapes perfect for dining and coffee tables. For more formal centerpieces, votives can be lined up neatly in rows of the same height down the center of tables.

In terms of home decor, votives can add a touch of coziness to shelves, console tables, sideboards, and other surfaces. Line them along the edge of bookshelves or display them on mantels for a warm glow. For a mellow mood, place them around the rim of a bathtub.

Votives can also serve as creative displays on their own. Try using taller glass votives to hold sand, sea shells, pebbles, marbles, or other small decorative items. The soft flickering light will highlight these accents beautifully. Float votives in glass bowls or vases for a unique illuminated water feature.

With their versatility, affordability, and gentle ambiance, votives offer endless possibilities for creative and stylish decor solutions. They are an easy way to add a special touch of lighting to any display in the home or at events.


In summary, votive size refers to the dimensions of a votive candle, typically measured in inches or centimeters. Standard votive sizes range from 1.5 x 1.5 inches up to 2 x 3 inches. The most common votive holders and uses are for 1.5 x 1.5 inch or 2 x 2 inch votives. While there are some variations in sizing, most votives fall within a narrow range to fit typical holders and applications.

When selecting votive size, it’s important to consider the intended holder or use. Make sure to check votive dimensions to ensure a proper fit and allow for safe use. With creativity, votives can be incorporated into projects beyond traditional candle holders. But be sure to always follow fire safety guidelines. Overall, understanding votive sizing helps ensure you purchase the right candles for your specific needs.

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