A candle's burn time depends mostly on the amount of wax and the candle's diameter, which affects the size of its wick. Within each size of candle, other variables can affect the burn time. For example, using a long-burning wax, such as soy wax, can extend a candle's burn time. Adding fragrances and dyes to the candle can shorten the burn time. Lastly, draughty conditions can significantly decrease a candle's burn time.
Tea lights are the smallest type of readily available candles and they generally have the shortest burn time as well. The average paraffin wax tea light burns for four to six hours. These candles are the perfect size for a single use during an evening party or for a couple of two- to three-hour uses.
Votive candles generally burn for between 10 and 15 hours, or 7 to 9 hours per ounce of wax they contain. To ensure the longest burn possible, place a votive candle in a votive jar that is the same diameter or barely larger than the candle. If the jar is too big, the candle will spread and the wick will not burn all the way to the edges, reducing the total burn time.
Large jar candles burn approximately five to seven hours per ounce of wax they contain. Look up the amount of wax on the label of the candle. If you are making your own jar candles, weigh the wax before melting and pouring it to estimate the burn time. Large jar candles with multiple wicks will not burn as long as candles with a single wick.
Pillar and Taper Candles
The burn time for a pillar candle depends on its diameter. A 2-inch-diameter pillar candle should burn for about 10 hours per inch of height. If the pillar candle has a 3-inch diameter, it should burn about 16 hours per inch of height. A large 4-inch pillar will burn up to 40 hours per inch of height. Standard taper candles generally burn about one hour per inch of height.