Your Guide to Buying Affordable Candles

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Your Guide to Buying Affordable Candles

At this time of year in particular, candles can be used to create a welcoming atmosphere and add a feeling of intimacy to the occasion. There are candles available to suit all needs and making the right choice can not only make using candles more pleasurable, but can also help to save money.

About Candles

Candles have been providing light and warmth for thousands of years, but it is only comparatively recently that they have become popular as decorative items. Today’s candles offer a vast range of colours, shapes, and sizes, and they can contain a variety of different materials in order to make them burn more efficiently. The table gives some examples of the more popular types.




These candles are commonly used as dinner candles. They taper from a broad base to a narrow tip and can be anywhere from six inches to a couple of feet high.


These candles can be round as in a traditional pillar or they can have straight sides, the usual number being four or six. They are fairly wide with diameters exceeding three inches and are able to stand without support.


Votive candles are cylindrical in shape and are rarely more than two inches in diameter and about the same in height. They are used in a metal holder which contains the melted wax as it burns.


Tealight candles are similar in shape to the votive candle but they are much smaller, about half the size.


Gel candles are so-called because they are made from mineral oils or synthetic hydrocarbons that have been “gelled”. They come in two varieties, hard and soft. The hard version is able to stand on its own, whereas the soft ones require a container so that they retain their shape. They are also known as jelly candles.


These are designed for outdoor use and have a weatherproof container.


As the name suggests these candles have shapes or designs that are unusual or mimic a popular item. They are more of an ornamental candle rather than a using one.

Choosing Candles

In the 19th century, candles were made mainly from paraffin wax and this wax is still widely used in the cheaper candles. Today there is a much wider choice of wax products of both animal and man-made origins. The table below gives a comparison of the main products used in candle production and their features.



Paraffin Wax

This has been the most common and cheapest wax used in candles for many years. Paraffin wax can burn unevenly and may give off soot.


As the name suggests beeswax is obtained from bees and has a natural aroma of honey. It is clean burning and has a longer burning time than most other waxes.

Soy Wax

This is a fairly recent wax which is produced from soy beans. They burn for longer than paraffin candles but are not as long lasting as those made from beeswax. They are clean and soot free.

Palm Wax

Another natural wax, this burns cleanly and needs less fragrance oils than other waxes in order to produce a strong scent.

Candle Wicks

The wick is an important element in a candle as it is the means by which the wax is delivered to the flame. Candle manufacturers select the type of wick for a candle based on the wax being used and the scent, size and colour of the candle. The four main types of wicks are the following.




These are the most common type of wick and are most suitable for taper shaped candles. They curl as they burn so obviating the need to trim them.


The square shape makes these wicks stronger than the flat variety. They are also less prone to clog when used with some colours and scents. They are the preferred choice for pillar and taper candles.


When a wick is required to stay upright, it is fitted with a strong core. The core can be tin, cotton, zinc, or paper.

Speciality Wicks

These are used in special candle types such as insect repellants or in oil lamps.

Scented Candles

The addition of fragrant oils to candles will tend to increase the cost of candles but for many people the benefits of the scents wafting through the air is worth the additional expense. Although the fragrance can affect the burning of the wax and create extra soot, reputable makers will ensure that this does not become excessive.

Candle Colours

The range of colours available is vast and it is easy to match the decor of a home by using a suitable choice of candle colour. As with fragrance, adding colours to the wax of a candle will alter the burning characteristics to some extent. However, the better candle manufacturers carry out extensive testing to make sure that their candles will still burn safely and efficiently with any of the colours that they offer. There are two types of colourants, dyes and pigments.




Dyes are added to the wax so that the colour is found throughout the candle. They burn easily and do not clog the wick.


Pigments are applied to the outside of a candle like paint. They are less likely to fade, although they do not burn readily thus cannot be used throughout the candle.

Hand Made or Machine Made

Machine made candles are produced in bulk and can offer substantial savings over the cost of a handmade candle. However, there are several differences between the two types and when these are taken into account the price difference might not seem so significant. The table illustrates the most important aspects in which they differ.




Handmade candles are individually designed and each candle will differ slightly. Customers can ask to have their own ideas incorporated into a design for that special occasion. They will normally contain more fragrance than bulk produced candles and can be expected to be fresher, thereby giving a stronger fragrance.

Machine Made

The designs of these candles are restricted by the moulds available for the machines. They tend to have less fragrance than handmade candles and will probably be less fresh when they are purchased. This latter factor also results in less fragrance being transmitted.

Candle Care

Taking proper care of a candle will help to make it burn more efficiently and for a longer period. This can mean that the cost of a more expensive candle can be reduced by comparison to a cheaper candle. Here are some steps to take that will ensure a longer lasting candle.

Candle Care


Wick Care

Regular trimming of a wick to about a quarter or one half of an inch will help to reduce soot and will enable more efficient burning of the wax as longer wicks will tend to burn more quickly.


Store candles in a flat position to minimise warping. They are best wrapped and kept in a cool and dry area. Avoid storing them in a brightly lit spot as their colours can fade.


Don’t place a burning candle in a draughty spot as this will cause faster and more uneven burning. Don’t leave a candle in an unattended room.

Finding Candles on eBay

Purchasing candles on eBay is straightforward. From the home page click on the All Categories tab which is at the top left of the page. Look for a link to Home, Furniture & DIY. This link can be expanded and a sub-category for Home Decor will be shown. Click on Home Decor. On the page that appears next, there will be a list of categories on the left side. The sixth category is Candles & Tea Lights and clicking on this will show all of the listings in this category. There will usually be a large number of items listed here and the search can be further refined by selecting a specific type of candle from the sub-categories which can be found at the left of the page. For example, a search can be made by type of candle or wax used, by colour, by fragrance, or any combination of these and other categories.


Candles are available in many different types and are made from several waxes, synthetic and natural. The main factors affecting the price of a candle are the wax used, the colours and the fragrances. Another important difference is whether the candle is handmade or machine made. Handmade candles will most often have advantages over the machine made candles but are usually more expensive. It pays to shop around and look at the listings of several sellers as there can be price differences even for very similar items. By taking appropriate care of candles they can be made to last much longer and will give a more satisfactory performance.

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