How Tall Should Pillar Candles Be? [Inc. Suggestions on How to Display Them]

Pillar candles add warmth and ambiance to any room. But how tall should they be? We’ve researched this topic in-depth to come up with tips to help you choose the right candles and learn how to maintain them for hours of enjoyment.

Pillar candles that are used in home decor are typically 3”-12” in height. Your choice of pillar candle height depends on how they are going to be used or displayed. In some cases, you'll go for a couple of two tall candles, each 12" tall. In others, you may opt to create a collection of candles in various heights.

Keep reading to learn more about pillar candles and the best ways to use them!

A pillar candle display and accessories catch the morning light. Colorful throw pillows on a golden sofa compliment the accessory colors in a soft focus background, How Tall Should Pillar Candles Be? [Inc. Suggestions on How to Display Them]

How Tall Should Pillar Candles Be?

When choosing pillar candles, the size mostly depends on how you plan to use them. Some pillar candles, such as those used in religious services, can stand as high as 42 inches. For home use, an assortment of pillar candles ranging from 3 inches to 12 inches should be fine. 

Also, consider the candle’s width or girth. Pillars with a 3-inch diameter are common, but others are often as wide as they are tall. These pillars use multiple wicks for even burning and can offer a nice contrast to narrower pillars.

The material from which the candle is made also matters. Under ideal conditions (good wax and proper maintenance):

  • a 3x3-inch pillar will burn for about 45 hours

  • a 3x4-inch pillar will burn for about 60 hours

  • a 3x6-inch pillar will burn for about 85 hours

  • a 3x8-inch pillar will burn for about 80 hours 

  • a 3x9inch pillar will burn for about 100 hours

  • a 4x4-inch pillar will burn for about 60 hours

  • a 6x5-inch pillar with three wicks will burn for about 100 hours

How to Arrange Pillar Candles?

There are many ways to arrange pillar candles, but some simple rules can help make anyone into a candle decorator. 

A single pillar candle is elegant on its own, but you’ll enhance its appearance by placing it in a large glass or ceramic bowl filled with small stones or flowers. A pillar candle with a wreath at its base is a popular holiday decoration. 

For a multi candle arrangement, first, decide how guests will see it. Will the candles be in the corner of the room? On a mantlepiece? On a dining room table? 

Tip: If you love the idea of pillar candles that have a natural tree bark texture, consider these birch bark candles from Amazon

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If your arrangement is seen only from the front, as in a corner or mantle placement, place the largest candles in the back, grouping smaller candles in front. 

If the arrangement is to be viewed from all sides as in a centerpiece, you will still build around the largest candle and cluster the various smaller candles around it.

Another popular arrangement is to line up the candles in a row, from the tallest to the shortest.

Do Pillar Candles Need a Holder?

Pillar candles generally do not need holders. They are wide enough and heavy enough to stand on their own without a holder. Safety is still the key, though, so make sure your candles are on a level surface that is unlikely to be shaken or otherwise disturbed. The middle of a large table is ideal, and the candles can make an exciting and elegant centerpiece. 

Although they don’t need holders, it is wise to place pillar candles on a heat resistant surface such a glass or stone (ceramic) plate to reduce the possibility of heat or wax damage to the table surface. (It’s also easier to move if necessary.)

But, for decoration and variety, there are indeed holders for pillar candles available. These are called, appropriately, pillar stands, and are often designed and decorated to resemble ancient Roman or Greek architectural pillars.

Can I Cut a Pillar Candle in Half?

Yes, you can cut a pillar candle in half or into varying lengths--if you follow a few guidelines.

Candle Height

Decide how big your new candles will bet. Equally sized pillars are beautiful when they are used apart from one another. But if they are in the same candle display, consider cutting the pillar in unequal lengths. That is, instead of two 6-inch candles cut from a 12-inch pillar, cut it into 7-inch and 5-inch lengths, or 8- and 4-inch pieces. These different heights are very pleasing to the eye.

Use the Correct Knife

A standard knife is sufficient to cut smaller taper-style candles, but cutting a thick pillar may result in cracked wax, uneven cuts, and a general mess. Use a sharp or serrated kitchen knife that has been heated by another candle or a stovetop. The blade will easily cut through the wax without causing it to drip. 

There are some electric candle cutters on the market that make thick candle cutting easy. They are essentially hot knives that soften the candle wax as it cuts.

Watch for the Wick

The most important part of a candle is the wick, so you’ll want to be careful that you don’t cut through it. Doing so isn’t the end of the world, but you will probably have to dig out some wax from your “new” candle to expose the wick. 

Instead, slide the warmed knife from the side through to the wick, and then cut all the way around, until you have a top half and bottom half connected by the wick. Dig out a small amount of wax from the bottom of the top half to expose more wick, and then cut. You’ll want at least 1/4-inch of exposed wick.

Finish Them

Give your “new” candles a finished look by placing them for a few minutes in a nonstick pan on a hotplate or stove set to low heat. This will help eliminate any roughness or unevenness from cutting. Again, you are not melting the candle, but softening the wax enough to smooth the surfaces of the two halves.

How Do You Get Pillar Candles to Burn Evenly?

A candle that burns evenly will give you hours of light. If not corrected, a candle that burns unevenly will never give off the light it should and will become unusable after a while. Avoid this problem with these tips:

  • Trim the wick to 1/4-inch each time before you light it. A too-long wick can smoke and leave sooty dirt on the candle surface. 

  • “Tunneling” is a common candle problem that happens when the wick isn’t big enough for the size of the candle. The wick only melts the wax immediately around it, causing a tunnel effect. That’s why more significant pillars have three wicks. 

  • People often make the mistake of not letting the candle burn long enough the first time it is lit. You should expect to let it burn for several hours, so the whole surface begins to melt. The first burn should be for at least three hours, or until the wax melts into a 2-inch diameter pool around the wick.

  • You can “rescue” uneven candles by placing them in an oven set to 175°F for about five minutes. It’s hot enough to melt the wax, so a level wax pool forms without disturbing the candle’s outer walls. Remove excess melted wax and expose about 1/4inch of the wick. 

From elegant dinners to romantic evenings, candles create an irresistible, relaxing atmosphere. Just don’t burn them at both ends.

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