What Is The Size Of A Votive Candle?

What Are Votive Candles?

Votive candles are short, thick candles that are typically used for religious or decorative purposes. The word “votive” comes from the Latin word “votum” which means “vow” or “dedication” (Source). Historically, votive candles were used as an offering or to symbolize prayers in the Christian, Catholic, and other faiths. Today, votive candles are still used in churches, home altars, and other spiritual practices.

Compared to taper candles, votive candles are generally shorter and wider. Traditional votive candles are around 1 to 3 inches tall and 0.75 to 1.5 inches in diameter, though sizes can vary. Most votive candles are made from paraffin wax and come in colors like white, ivory, or yellow beeswax. The candles are designed to fit into small glass containers called votive holders. The glass helps the candle burn longer and catches any dripping wax.

While votive candles are often associated with religious ceremonies, they are also used for ambient lighting, centerpieces, memorials, aromatherapy, and more. Their small size makes them versatile for decorating, creating cozy mood lighting, or leaving a symbolic offering. Overall, the term “votive candle” refers to short, wide candles meant for offering or decoration (Source).

History and Origins

Votive candles have a long history originating in ancient religions and cultures. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that the lighting of candles for religious purposes dates back to before Christianity, when votive candles were used in Jewish ceremonies and pagan rituals.

According to Wikipedia, the practice of lighting votive candles began in Ancient Greece and Rome, where candles were lit at shrines as offerings to deities. The Catholic Church eventually adapted this practice, using lit candles in Mass, processions and prayer ceremonies.

As explained on EWTN’s website, the early Christian church continued the tradition of lighting candles, influenced by Judaism and the Roman pagan culture. Votive candles became increasingly common in Catholic churches and homes starting in the Middle Ages. Today, lighting a votive candle while saying a prayer is a popular Catholic devotion.

Common Uses and Purposes

Votive candles have many common uses and purposes. Some of the most popular uses are:

Religious Ceremonies – Votive candles are frequently used in churches and places of worship. Worshippers will light a votive candle and say a prayer or offering. The lit candle represents the prayer being offered. Votive candles are used in this symbolic way in many religions including Catholicism, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and more (source).

Home Decor – In home decor, votive candles are valued for their small size and warm, flickering glow. They can be placed in decorative holders and used to create cozy ambiance throughout the home. Groupings of votive candles make attractive centerpieces. Their small size makes them easy to place in various spots around the home (source).

Events – Votive candles are a popular choice for events like weddings, parties, and formal dinners. They can be used to decorate tables and set a romantic or elegant mood. Their small size makes them perfect for crowds and busy events where safety is a concern. Votive candles add beautiful, soft lighting without open flames (source).

Standard Votive Candle Sizes

There are some standard specifications when it comes to the size of votive candles. These help ensure consistency and allow votive candles to properly fit into candle holders and containers.

The standard diameter of a votive candle is between 1.5-1.75 inches (38-44 mm). The most common diameter is 1.5 inches (38 mm). The height of a standard votive candle is approximately 1.5-2 inches (38-51 mm). A typical votive candle is around 2 inches (51 mm) tall.

In terms of weight, a standard votive candle weighs approximately 1.5-2 ounces (42-57 g). An average votive candle weighs around 1.7 ounces (48 g).

There can be some variance when it comes to votive candle sizes, with colors and scents affecting dimensions slightly. But most quality votive candles will conform close to these standard size specifications.


Factors That Affect Size

There are several key factors that impact the size of a votive candle:

Wax Type

The type of wax used can affect the height and burn time of a votive candle. Harder waxes like soy and beeswax allow candles to be created taller without bending, while softer paraffin wax candles are often shorter. Soy and beeswax also burn slower than paraffin, resulting in a votive lasting longer.


The votive holder or container plays a significant role in determining candle size. Wider containers provide more surface area for the melted wax to pool, so the candle can afford to be shorter. Narrower holders require a taller candle so there’s enough wax to fill the melt pool. Votives in glass containers are often wider and shorter than ones in metal or other materials.


The wick thickness and type also impacts how quickly the candle burns and the melt pool size. Larger wicks burn faster and hotter, while thinner wicks prolong burn time. Wicks made from natural materials like paper and cotton burn slower than ones with synthetic materials.

Size Comparisons

Votive candles are generally the smallest standard size candle. Compared to other common candle types:

  • Tealight candles are even smaller than votives. Tealights are only about 1″ tall and 1″ wide.
  • Pillar candles are taller and wider than votives. Pillar candles come in varying heights, like 3″ or 6″.
  • Taper candles are long, thin, and taller than votives. Tapers can be 6″-12″ tall.
  • Votives are quite a bit smaller than jar candles. Jar candles are often 3″-5″ tall.

To visualize votive size, they are about the same height as a golf ball or ping pong ball. Their diameter is similar to that of a quarter or poker chip.

Votives are smaller than common household items like cups or bowls. But they are larger than items like dice, buttons, or bottle caps.

Overall, votives are on the smaller end for candles, falling between tealights and most other standard candle types in terms of size.

Measuring Votive Candles

Votive candles are quite small, so using a standard ruler or measuring tape is the easiest way to determine the size. To measure diameter, center the ruler on top of the candle and measure across. Standard votives are around 2 inches in diameter. For height, simply place the ruler vertically next to the candle from bottom to top; standard votive height is also around 2 inches.

You can also use calipers, micrometers, or other precision measurement tools to get an exact votive candle size. Digital calipers are convenient for getting a very precise diameter measurement. The small scale of votives means the measurement does not need to be extremely precise in most cases though.

Another approach is to fill a vessel or holder with water, place the votive candle in the vessel, and then measure the displacement volume. This will give you the total volume of the candle in cubic units. You can also use a digital scale to weigh the candle and calculate volume from known densities of wax.

When purchasing votive candles, most manufacturers and sellers provide the dimensions upfront, typically in product details, description, or specifications. So in many cases you can find the measurements without taking them yourself.


Buying Tips

When purchasing votive candles, there are a few key things to look for:

Wax Type: Votive candles come in different wax types like soy, paraffin, beeswax, and gel. Soy wax is often preferred as it’s natural and burns clean. Paraffin is cheap but can produce more soot. Beeswax has a natural honey aroma. Gel candles use mineral oil so the wax pools instead of melting (see LuxDeco’s Candle Buying Guide).

a white votive candle burning inside a short glass container.
Wick Type: The wick impacts how the candle burns. Cotton and paper fiber wicks work for most votives. Wooden wicks make crackling sounds. Specialty wicks like zinc core improve burn quality. Wicks should be trimmed to 1⁄4 inch before lighting.

Fragrance: Votive candles come in endless fragrance options from floral to food-inspired. Soy wax holds scent better than paraffin. Test smells before buying. Avoid choosing a candle solely based on cold scent.

Burn Time: Votive burn time is typically 10-20 hours. Bigger or higher quality waxes/wicks will burn longer. Gel and container candles burn slower than ones in glass.

Price: Basic votives cost $1-5 each, while luxury brands run $10-20. Sales and bulk packs offer savings. Evaluate quality, scent, and burn time against price.

Consider factors like space, fragrance preferences, and budget when buying votives. Read reviews and know return policies in case a candle underperforms.

Safety Considerations

When using votive candles, it’s important to follow proper safety precautions. According to Votive Candles & Fire Prevention, here are some key tips for safe handling, storage, and burning of votives:

For handling, make sure to keep wicks centered and trim wicks to 1⁄4” before lighting to avoid uneven burning and excessive dripping. Wicks should be trimmed every few hours as the votive burns. Avoid drafts, vents, or air currents when burning votives, as these can cause rapid, uneven burning.

For storage, keep votives in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight and away from any heat or ignition sources. Storing votives in high temperatures can cause wax to soften and candles to become misshapen.

For burning, always keep votives on a stable, heat-resistant surface. Provide a non-flammable base underneath the votive holder, with at least 4 inches clearance on all sides from other objects. Never leave burning votives unattended and keep away from children and pets. Extinguish votives once they have burned down within 1⁄2” of the bottom. Allow melted wax to fully harden before handling or disposing.

Following basic precautions for handling, storage, and burning will help ensure votive candles are used in the safest manner possible.

Creative Uses

Votive candles can be used creatively in a variety of crafts and decor projects. Here are some unique ways to use votive candles:

  • Fill votive holders with colorful beads, flowers, or seashells instead of candles to use as table decor or centerpieces. See examples at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/397935317059437024/
  • Paint or decoupage votive holders to match your decor. Add glitter for extra sparkle. Get inspiration from https://www.farmhousechicliving.com/votive-candle-holder-ideas/
  • Arrange votive holders on a tray or platter to create an instant centerpiece. Layer different sizes and styles for visual interest.
  • Use colorful votives to spell out names or words on a table for parties or events.
  • Create luminarias by placing a votive in a paper bag with sand at the bottom. Line pathways or decorate outdoor areas.
  • Make mini terrariums by filling holders with soil and small plants. Add moss or rocks for decoration.

With a little creativity, the possibilities are endless for how to use votive candle holders for crafts, decorating, or displaying candles in interesting ways.

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