• MENS
  • What Is A Pillar Candle?

    May 29, 2024 14 min read

    What Is A Pillar Candle?

    What is a Pillar Candle? 

    Before I answer this “age old question,” I thought I’d begin with a few other question slash answers. 

    What word is spelled incorrectly in every single dictionary?


    What goes up but never ever comes down?

    Your age.

    Which is heavier, 100 pounds of rocks or 100 pounds of feathers?

    They both weigh the same — 100 pounds.

    What two things can you never eat for breakfast?

    Lunch and dinner.

    How do you know when a candle is in a bad mood? 

    It’s having a meltdown.

    What is a pillar candle?

    It's a candle that's really good at holding up its end of the light.

    Okay now that I most likely just humored myself, I’m gonna actually answer “what is a pillar candle?”

    A pillar candle is characterized by its cylindrical shape. Usually pillar candles are larger than most other candles like tapers or votives. They come in a variety of widths and heights and are designed to be freestanding. Their wide shape allows them to to stand on their own without the use of a holder. And because of their size, sturdiness, and smooth structure they burn longer and slower than most other kinds of candles. 

    Pillars can be used for a variety of purposes and are celebrated for their decorative purposes in churches, homes, and event spaces. There is nothing quite like a large display of various sized pillar candles placed beautifully to set the mood and create a warm and inviting atmosphere. They are designed to burn for long periods of time when lit and are often used for weddings, events, and religious ceremonies. No matter where or for what reason you decide to use pillar candles, one thing is for sure, they will definitely enhance the ambience in any space. And will exude a sense of calm serenity and their steady flame can transform any room into a sanctuary of tranquility.

    And pillar candles have been creating “the mood” for centuries, dating back thousands of years.

    The History Of Pillar Candles

    The precursors to candles were made by the Egyptians, circa 3000 BCE and were known as “Rushlights.” They were wickless and made by soaking the pith of a rush plant in animal fat, tallow, or grease, which served as the fuel for the flame. The soaked pith was lit at one end and would burn a small steady flame. Rushlights had a short burn time, but they were much cheaper and easier to produce than candles and were often used by the lower class. Candles made of beeswax that had actual wicks, were much more expensive to make and reserved for the upper class.


    During Ancient Rome, circa 500 BCE- 400 CE, candle making techniques improved and people started using wicks made from papyrus. The papyrus wick was tied tightly with twine several times and then repeatedly dipped in animal fat or tallow until they formed this large clump of fat. From there the wick would be lit and offer a slower and steadier burn over the once used rushlights. 

    In Ancient China and Japan, circa 200 BCE - 100 CE, candles were made from whale fat, tree nuts, and insects. In Japan, candles were mostly used in Buddhist temples for religious purposes. 

    During the middle ages, circa 5th- 15th centuries, people started moving away from the use of animal fat in candles due to the smell and smoke and started working primarily with beeswax. These beeswax pillar candles had a long slow steady burn and were perfect for castles and monasteries. White pillar candles were used mostly for religious ceremonies in churches as a symbol of light and purity. The burn was clean and their aroma was far more pleasant. Can you imagine your castle always smelling like bacon? 

    The candle making techniques during The Renaissance continued to improve. Beeswax became the most popular and many homes enjoyed dinners and parties lit by candlelight. 

    The Industrial Revolution during the 18th and 19th Centuries saw a huge jump in candle production. Stearin, a substance derived from animal fat, and paraffin wax, a byproduct of petroleum, became the most commonly used materials. Pillar candles were still extremely popular for their longer burn time and aesthetic appeal. However, the lightbulb was invented in the 19th century, so candle making declined for more than one hundred years. 

    From the 20th century to present day, pillar candles have become a staple in home decor and are the go to choice due to their aesthetic appeal, long burn time, and versatility. 


    Today, candles are made from various materials, including paraffin, beeswax, soy wax, coconut wax, palm wax, and other natural waxes. They are usually made from a rigid wax, such as paraffin so that the candle can stand up on its own without the use of a container. Each one of these waxes has their own unique properties and has their own set of pros and cons.

    Paraffin Wax- a byproduct of petroleum refining, is the most commonly used wax for candles due to its availability and versatility. 

    • Advantages: Provides a bright and consistent flame, can be easily colored and holds its scents very well. 
    • Disadvantages: Produces soot, releases harmful chemicals when burned, and derived from non-renewable sources.
    Soy Wax- made from hydrogenated soybean oil, is a popular choice for people who are looking for a natural, renewable option. 
    • Advantages: Longer burn time, holds fragrance very well, burns cleaner than paraffin, renewable and biodegradable. 
    • Disadvantages: Softer than paraffin so may require additives if being used for pillar candles.
    Beeswax- a natural wax produced by honeybees, has been used for centuries in candle making. 
    • Advantages: Long burn time, naturally dripless, burns clean with a lovely natural scent.
    • Disadvantages: Limited availability in certain regions, more expensive than other waxes. 
    Palm Wax- is derived from the oil of palm trees, is known for its crystalline appearance. 
    • Advantages: Produces a beautiful crystalline texture, burns cleanly, and creates hard durable candles.
    • Disadvantages: Environmental concerns related to its production like deforestation. 
    Coconut wax- is made from the hydrogenated oil of coconuts, is relatively new to the candle industry. 
    • Advantages: Sustainable and renewable, holds fragrance well, and burns clean with a bright flame. 
    • Disadvantages: Costs more due to its premium quality.

    Blended waxes- are made from the combination of two or more types of waxes, are used to capitalize on the advantages of each wax. A common pairing is soy and paraffin to improve burn qualities and aroma. Another great pairing is beeswax and soy to enhance the hardness and burn time. The only disadvantage of these blends is that it may be more complex to formulate and manufacture. 

    And if you want to make your own pillar candles, candle science is a great resource to help you get started!

    What size do pillar candles come in?

    Pillar candles can be made in very different sizes, shapes and heights, but you will mainly find them in a cylinder-like shape with one wick. The larger the size pillar, the more wicks the candle will have. There are a wide range of pillar candles available today and choosing the right size for you depends upon what you want to use them for. The most common sizes are 3 inches, 6 inches, and 9 inches. These sizes are perfect for dressing a table for an event such as a wedding or dinner party. They are also the perfect height for coffee tables and desks and look beautiful when displayed all together in varying heights. 

    What is the difference between a church candle and a pillar candle?


    The terms "church candle" and "pillar candle" are often used interchangeably, as they refer to similar types of candles. But there are distinct differences based on their use. 

    A church candle which is commonly found in places of worship, is specifically designed to be used in religious ceremonies and rituals. They are typically white or ivory and often hold symbolic meaning and represent purity, the presence of the divine, and the light of Christ in Christian traditions. They are usually tall and slim and designed to fit in specific candle shoulders that are used in religious settings. Church candles are often made from high quality waxes such as beeswax and stearin, a substance derived from animal fats and vegetable oils. These blends help the candle burn cleanly with a long burn time and keep dripping and smoke to a minimum, making them ideal to burn indoors during services. 

    Pillar candles are versatile and used for a variety of purposes, including home decor, aromatherapy, events, and creating ambiance. They can be both functional and decorative while providing light and enhancing the atmosphere of any space. They come in a variety of colors, sizes, and designs. Pillar candles can be embellished with scents, patterns, textures and are often wider than church candles. 

    Black Pillar Candles 

    Black pillar candles have become extremely popular lately. They seem to be popping up everywhere and are beloved because of the dramatic and cozy atmosphere they create in any room. They provide a sleek, modern look that goes well with any aesthetic, including gothic, contemporary, and minimalist. The stark bold color makes a striking visual statement that bodes well with different color schemes. Black pillar candles can add a touch of sophistication and mystery to any setting. They are popular for themed events such as Halloween, gothic weddings, or black-tie events where a monochromatic or dark color scheme is desired.

    Black pillar candles are often associated with power, protection, transformation, and elegance. And are used in a variety of cultural and spiritual practices for their perceived ability to absorb negative energy and provide a healing and grounding environment. 

    At SpiritHoods, we combine the best of both worlds with our new line of animal black animal pillar candles. Our candles are made from sustainably sourced ingredients and handcrafted in small batches in Canada. They are 100% soy wax and food grade paraffin and have lead-free cotton wicks for a clean burn and are 100% vegan and cruelty free. 

    Oh! And if you choose the rabbit, owl, wolf, or cobra pillar candle, check out my blogs about animal guides. 


    Check out these great shops for additional black pillar candles:

    1. Root Candles- They use 100% natural fiber wicks that they braid on-site themselves. Their candles are clean burning, long lasting, and their fragrances are made from essential oils.
    2. Hudson Grace makes elegant candles from all-natural paraffin and amber tree resin. Their candles are crafted by a family-run business in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, that's committed to fair trade and ethical manufacturing
    3. For Strange Women- Being a strange woman myself, I absolutely LOVE the name of this company and their candles are no joke. Their beeswax pillar candles have long burning times and their wicks are made from 100% cotton and contain no lead or metal.
    4. Stone Candles makes their candles in small batches and they are NON GMO, plant based, cruelty-free, plant based, biodegradable, sustainable, and paraben free. Plus, they have in person candle making classes at their SoCal location. 
    5. House Of Saku offers handcrafted pillar candles made from natural, non toxic drip free vegetable wax and 100% cotton wicks.

    How to Burn a Pillar Candle Evenly?

    Burning a pillar candle evenly requires careful attention and maintenance. But I have full faith in you, my readers, and know that if you follow these simple steps, your beautiful pillar candle will burn long and safely.

    1. Burn the candle for 3-4 hours the first time you light it, or until the melted wax pool reaches the edge of the candle. This helps set the "memory" of the wax and ensures the candle burns evenly in future uses.
    2. Keep the wick trimmed to about 1/4 inch before each use. This prevents high flames and excessive soot, promoting a more even burn.
    3. Place the candle away from drafts, fans, and open windows. Drafts can cause the flame to flicker, which leads to uneven burning and tunneling.
    4. After the initial burn, allow the candle to burn for long enough to create a full wax pool across the top, usually 3-4 hours. Avoid burning the candle for less than 1 hour or more than 4 hours at a time to prevent uneven burning
    5. Always place the candle on a flat, heat-resistant surface to ensure that it stands upright and burns evenly. This will also protect any furniture that you place the pillar on. 
    6. If you notice that the wax pool is uneven, carefully push the softened edges of the wax towards the center after you blow the candle out. 
    7. If you notice one side is burning faster than the other, rotate the candle often to ensure an even burn. 
    8. Keep your pillar candle in a safe place away from children and pets. 
    9. Never leave your candle unattended.
    10.  Enjoy the heck out of your beautiful pillar candle whether you light it or not! May it add to the beauty of any space that you put it in!

    How Long Does a Pillar Candle Burn?

    The burn time of a pillar candle depends on its size and the quality of the wax and wick. On average the burn time for various sizes are:

    • A small 3x3 inch pillar candle burns for approximately 30 to 40 hours.
    • A medium 3x6 inch pillar candle burns for about 60 to 70 hours.
    • A large 3x9 inch pillar candle can burn for 90 to 100 hours or more.

    Remember these are just estimates. Factors like drafts, temperature, and how well the wick is maintained can contribute to your pillar candle’s burn time. To extend your burn time try burning your candle at shorter intervals. Also make sure you store your candles away from heat and sunlight so the wax won’t soften and warp. Try using a hurricane lamp or glass case for your pillar candles, especially if you’re burning them outside, this will help with wind and drafts. It’s important to clean the wick and remove any debris or burnt wick bits from the wax pool to prevent uneven burning. And finally using a candle snuffer to extinguish the flame rather than blowing the candle out will also reduce smoke and wick disturbance. 

    Why Won't my pillar candle stay lit?

    This often happens if your candle has tunneled and the wick has burned below the surface of the wax. The wax is melting down into the wick faster than the wick can burn it and the flame gets extinguished. Also make sure that your wick isn’t too short so that it doesn’t get covered by the melted wax.  If this is the case, just dab away or drain excess melted wax from the area around the wick to give it enough space to burn. The wick quality also plays a big role in whether or not your pillar candle will stay lit. Sometimes the wick is too thin for the size of the candle, make sure when purchasing pillar candles, the wick or wicks are the appropriate size and centered in the middle of the candle. Also if the wax has impurities or additives, it may affect the burning. Try and look for candles made out of high quality materials. And this may be a no-brainer, but make sure your candle is dry and not moist before lighting! 

    What Can I Burn a Pillar Candle On?

    Stovetops, granite countertops, and wooden tables and shelves that have been treated to be fire-resistant are all good surfaces to burn your pillar candles on. If you aren't sure if a surface is safe, placing your jarless candles on a plate is a good way to help protect it. Remember that not ALL surfaces are safe to burn your pillar candles on. Avoid burning your candles on flammable materials, like plates or countertops made from birch bark and coconut shells. Never burn a candle on top of a tablecloth or other fabric surfaces. Avoid paper and plastic plates and products and always make sure your candle is placed on an even surface. And always make sure there is several feet of clearance above any lit candle. And for more ideas on pillar candle holders, check out my blog, "Everything you need to Know about Pillar Candle Holders."

    Natural Clean Burning Pillar Candles 

    Burning natural clean pillar candles ensures that you, your pets, and loved ones are not inhaling any poisonous additives. Look for candles that are made with natural waxes (such as beeswax, soy wax, coconut wax, or palm wax) and free from additives, dyes, and synthetic fragrances. Additionally, ensure that they use lead-free cotton or wood wicks for a cleaner burn.

    Here is a list of some of my favorite places to get clean burning pillar candles: 

    1. Spirithoods- We offer a beautiful collection of ivory and black animal pillar candles. Our candles are made from100% sustainable and eco friendly ingredients and have lead free cotton wicks and are 100% vegan and cruelty-free. Plus when you shop with us we donate 10% of our net profits to endangered animals and their habitats. Check out my in depth blog, "Animal Pillar Candles: Everything you need to Know."
    2. Good Light Candles are clean burning, paraffin free candles while supporting palm farmers and orangutan rescue and rehabilitation. They support environmental stewardship, wildlife preservation, and responsible palm oil production by partnering with the Orangutan Land Trust and Wild Asia's smallholder farmers who are certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Shopping with Good Light guarantees that you will purchase the highest quality pillar candles that are plant based, clean burning, eco friendly, and affordable. 
    3. Bluecorn Beeswax- This is a small family run business and all their candles are hand poured and made from 100% Pure Beeswax Paraffin-free & lead-free, non-toxic & hypoallergenic. Some of their pillars are scented with natural essential oils to create beautiful non-toxic, phthalate-free fragrances.
    4. Aloha Bay- is known for their sustainably harvested palm wax candles, which burn cleanly. They also have beautiful, clean, and organic beeswax pillar candles. Being part of the World Fair Trade Organization, you can shop with confidence knowing that their standards for manufacturing their candles are with the highest integrity. 
    5. Bear Natural Organics offers handmade artisan candles that are made with lead free 100% cotton wicks dipped in triple filtered 100% beeswax made and made in the USA. They also offer dye free handmade unscented soy pillar candles that are free of paraffin. 
    6. And if you’re anything like me, then you LOVE Etsy! Check out these beeswax pillar candles from USA Beeswax Candle Co., a small family business that makes 100% pure beeswax and cotton wicks- that’s it! Just pure clean loveliness! 

    And check out my blog, "Where to buy Pillar Candles" for more options!

    Are Pillar Candles Good For the Bedroom?


    Are pillar candles good for the bedroom? I’m gonna ask that one more time… ARE PILLAR CANDLES GOOD FOR THE BEDROOM???? 

    Does a bear shit in the woods? 

    Yes. And yes.

    Pillar candles create an ambience that’ll help you relax, unwind, get in “the mood” for whatever it is that you want to “get in the mood” for. This is a safe space. No judgment here. Just light your pillar candles and let yourself go! Just don’t fall asleep before blowing your candle out! That’s the only safety tip I’m gonna give. The rest is up to you. Whether you’re sharing your bedroom space with a special someone or someones or you are your own special someone and it's a date for one, pillar candles will transform your room into a portal of delight. 



    Here are a few great must haves to ensure your pillar candles get the longest life that they deserve. 

    Wick trimmer 

    Remember to keep your wick trimmed to ¼ inch before each use.

    Malin and Goetz

    Crate and Barrel  

    Joanna Buchanan


    Etsy - They have some beautiful vintage ones that are one of a kind (in case you feel like being all fancy!)

    Candle snuffer

    When it's time to extinguish the flame, the best way to do so is by using a candle snuffer. Snuffers are superior to blowing a candle out because they prevent wax and soot from being blown around (and potentially getting stuck on the inside of your vessel).




    Christian Dior - for the person that has everything.



    Williams Sonoma 

    Here’s a beautiful vintage set from the 19th Century on Etsy. 

    Wick Dipper 

    A candle wick dipper is a tool used to extinguish a candle's flame by submerging the wick into melted wax. It can also be used to recenter wicks and remove debris from wax. Using a wick dipper extinguishes the flame without smoke, preserves the wick’s integrity by re-coating the wick with wax, and prolongs the life of the candle. 


    Wick and Spice

    The Beeswax Co.

    Match Striker

    And I just couldn’t resist adding this gorgeous vintage silver and crystal match striker for $1150 from Hudson Grace. It makes me want to pour a martini and watch old Mad Men reruns. 


    We want to see where you placed your SpiritHoods animal pillar candles. Tag us on all your socials @Spirithoods


    TEXT ANIMAL TO 1-833-217-2555