How Long Do Votive Candles Burn?

Updated January 13, 2020
Votive Candles Burn

Knowing how long votive candles burn helps you plan for special events and usage. We tested four different brands of votive candles to see just how long they last. These roughly two-inch tall candles can burn for anywhere from about two to four hours according to our experiment.

Votive Candles and Burn Times Tested

We tested four votive candles from popular manufacturers and stores to see which lasts the longest and to determine an average burn time for this size of candle.

Different Color Votive Candles
Candles Used in Experiment

Interiors by Design Brand Votive Candles From Family Dollar

You can purchase a four-pack of white, Clean Linen scented votives for about $1 at the Family Dollar. While the box clearly states they are votive candles, this candle was about an inch shorter than any other brand and only .8 ounces in weight. The votive stands about one inch tall with a half-inch long wick and features a very small rounded section on the top.

Mainstays Brand Votive Candles From Walmart

These votives are sold individually, without any packaging, and come in a variety of colors and scents for about 50 cents each. For this experiment, we used the burgundy Warm Apple Pie candle. This is a one and three quarter-inch tall candle with a half-inch wick. It features smooth sides and a flat top, and this candle has no notable design elements.

Yankee Candle Votives

Known for their extensive scent collections, the Yankee Candle votive is 1.75 ounces and sells for just under $2. The blue Warm Luxe Cashmere variety was used for the experiment and stands one and three-quarters inches tall with a three-quarter inch long wick. This candle features a flat top with a thick edge around the top that is wider than the base.

Generic Citronella Votive from Local Party Supply Stor

This yellow candle stands about one and a half inches tall with a half-inch wick. It was purchased for about $1 at a local party supply store. The candle weighs 1.35 ounces. On the top of the candle there is a small tapered section that starts out thinner than the rest of the candle and spreads out to meet the flat part of the top. It also features a ridged design around all sides instead of a smooth finish.

Methods Used to Test Votive Burn Time

After removing all packaging and stickers, each candle wick was pulled up straight. The candles were all placed on a level surface indoors where there were no open windows or fans. All candles were lit at the same time.

Votive Candles After One Hour Burning
Votive Candles After One Hour of Burn Time

Results of Votive Burn Time Tests

On average, the votives burned through most of their wax within about three hours. However, the wicks on each candle burned for another half hour to an hour after all the wax melted. The Yankee Candle lasted longer than any of the other votives, but didn't make the company's predicted burn time of up to 15 hours. Because of its size, the Family Dollar candle burned out long before any other votive.

Votives After Three Hours Burning
Votives After Three Hours Burning

Data about Votive Candle Burn Time

Experts suggest votives can burn for ten to eighteen hours depending on wick size and candle weight, however this test showed that votives burn for a much shorter time. If you are planning for an event, you may want to have extra votives on hand in case they don't burn as long as you expected. Comparing all the data helps you make an educated guess about how long your specific votives will last.

Votive Candle Burn Times
Brand Color Height Wick Size Wax Burn Time Wick Burn Time
Interiors By Design White 1 inch half inch 2 hours 2.5 hours
Mainstays Burgundy 1 3/4 inches 3/4 inch 3 hours 4 hours
Yankee Candle Blue 1 3/4 inches 3/4 inch 3.5 hours 4.5 hours
Citronella Yellow 1.5 inch half inch 3 hours 4 hours

Testing Limitations of Votive Burn Times

Because the candles weren't all the same height, were potentially made from different materials, and had different wick lengths, the comparison is not completely equal. Different design features and scents could also play a part in varying melt times. While many believe white candles burn faster than dyed candles, there's little evidence to support this claim.

Burn Times and Votive Sizes

The average votives is 1.5" in diameter and 2" tall. However, some votives are taller than the typical 2". This difference in height can mean a longer burn time.

Soy, Paraffin and Beeswax Burn Times

Soy, paraffin and beeswax all have different burn times. Each has a different melting point.

Soy Burn Time vs Paraffin

According to Lit Up Candle Co, soy wax has a 50% longer burn time than paraffin since the melting point is lower. This prevents it from burning as quickly as paraffin.

Beeswax Longest Burning Time

The longest burning wax candle is beeswax. For example, if you purchase a 15-hour medium votive from Beeswax Candle Works, it's the type of wax that accounts for the extended burn time. These votive beeswax candles are only 1.75" tall, but have a diameter is 1.75". Although .25" shorter than most votives, this candle also is .25 wider than the average votive.

Candle Wax Blends Burn Time

One thing to consider is whether the votive candle is a mix of waxes. For example, a soy candle with beeswax will burn longer than a 100% soy candle. However, a soy candle with paraffin will burn faster than the 100% soy candle.

Tips for Improving Votive Burn Times

The quality of the candle, wick and wax determines the burn time. Many of the cheaper tealights you purchase may burn between 2-3 hours. Others may burn up to 4 hours, while other may even have a 6-hour burn time.

  • If your candle has a long wick, it will burn faster.
  • A bent or crooked wick will make the candle burn uneven, fast and lopsided.
  • The candle will burn best when the wick is no more that 1/4" long.
  • Make sure there are no drafts in the room. Drafts can cause a candle to burn unevenly since the flame bounces and moves with any air current.
  • You can slow down the burning time by placing your candle in the freezer or refrigerator at least a couple of hours before you plan to light it. The cold temperature will inhibit the burning/melting process, causing your candle to burn slower.

Tealight Burn Time

Many people confuse tealights with votives. However, tealights are only 1" tall and on average are the same 1.5" diameter as votives. Many tealights are advertised to have a burn time of 4 to 6 hours. However, tealights typically only burn for about 2 hours.

Tealight Real Burn Times Reported

In conducting a test of generic cheap tealights purchased at a local store, the tealights burned for 1.55 hours. Other reports of tealight burn times can be found in various online reviews.

  • Reviews for Walmart Mainstay Tealights (100ct) supposed to burn approximately 4 hours report burn times, "...lucky if they burn for 2." "... the wick goes limp on every other candle I light." The type of wax isn't provided in the description.
  • Customers for Target Extended Burn white tealights (100ct) reported burn times of 6 hours and one customer stated, "7 hours and 30 minutes and still going!" These tealights have a longer burn time due to the height of 1.5" instead of the typical 1".

Votive Candles for Short Burn Occasions

Votive candles only burn for a few hours, making them ideal for home relaxation, spa services or short parties. If you choose a higher quality candle, the longer it will burn and look beautiful.

How Long Do Votive Candles Burn?