Why church candles are used and how to get the best from them

24 Aug , 2021

Church candles are easily among the most important supplies for any church setting. Their symbolism and aesthetic appeal make them a central feature of every sermon while they are integral for daily prayers and special occasions alike. 

Whether you’re a church organiser looking to upgrade your church supplies or hoping to use church candles at home, this guide will answer all of your key questions, such as:

  • Why are candles used in church?
  • What does the candle represent in the Bible?
  • What is the symbolism of lighting a candle?
  • Where can I buy church candles near me?
  • How do you stop candles from tunnelling?

Understanding why we use candles in churches

Gravy lights

Anyone that has ever stepped inside a church setting knows that candles are an integral feature of celebrating our faith. They are used for a wide range of services, which is why several types should be purchased by all church clergies.

Depending on the type of church candle in question, they may be used for varying purposes, such as:

  • Remembering and praying for departed loved ones
  • Symbolising Christ and the presence of God
  • Making blessings to people during special events
  • Marking a special date or period in the calendar
  • Passing positivity from one person to another

Candles have been used for centuries and are as popular as ever. Meanwhile, individual colours can symbolise different ideas. White or ivory candles stand for purity while red honours the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. The contrasts in symbolism is just one of the reasons why researching the different types of candles for church is so crucial.

Different types of church candles

baptismal candle

 There are several types of church candles that may be used by clergy or visitors from the community. The key church candles include;

  • Votive church candles, which are used for prayers and to remember departed loved ones.
  • Baptismal candles come with symbolistic transfers and are used to celebrate the precious moment in a youngster’s life.
  • Beeswax altar candles to show the presence of God during church sermons.
  • Paschal candles to be used during the Easter holiday as a symbol of the resurrection
  • Pillar candles that can be used for various purposes, including purely atmospheric purposes when hanging in chandeliers. 

Different church candles will be used for various services and purposes. Most are available in different styles, sizes, and designs. By buying all of your church candles from the same church candles supplier, consistent results are for a better church atmosphere are assured.

Church candles for prayers at home

church candles near me

While church candles are primarily thought of as something for church settings, many people use them to celebrate their faith and the presence of God in their home settings too. Votive lights are commonly used when holding a celebration of life in the home environment, as well as for home prayers on birthdays and the anniversary of other key dates.

In addition to church candles for home prayers, many families buy advent candles to count down the days to December 25th while church candles can also be used during the Easter celebrations and other religious holidays. Memorial and grave lights are also commonly used to remember the dearly departed.

How long do church candles burn for?

sanctuary candles

Given the wide variety of church candles that are available, it is no surprise that they can burn for varying lengths of time. Even when looking at the size of the candle, the contrasts are huge. Votive candles, for example, can range from 1-2 hour burning candles to 24 hour burning candles. Meanwhile, four hour lights are a popular choice for guests wanting to pray for a loved one.  

As for pillar candles, the diameter has a telling impact. For a 3” diameter, a 3” tall candle will burn for 45 hours while a 4” can burn for 60 hours. Some three wick candles can burn for over 100 hours. Candles specifically designed for religious celebrations can burn for several days too. 

Are church candles safe?

advent candles

Candles play a significant role in church services and rituals. However, safe candle usage should be a priority at all times. While candles made from beeswax and stearine can safely burn for several hours, a few precautions will need to be made. 

Using a candle follower, usually made from metal or glass, can prevent wax spillages. Another key step is to think carefully about the placement - avoiding spaces where breezes or air conditioning units could cause the flame to light surrounding items is key.

When burning oil candles, you’ll need to ensure that the wick is ⅛” tall to ensure a natural burning height. When using a bigger candle, like a Paschal, you’ll need a larger flame so that the outer wax will burn. Altar candles should be stored horizontally before usage and then fixed in their vertical position with a wick of approximately ½”.

How to take care of your church candle

The importance of church candles cannot be emphasised enough. If you want to make the most out of the church products, however, you must learn to take good care of them. Selecting premium quality candles is a great starting point while embracing the above safety measures will help too. You should also consider buying a brass candle extinguisher.

It may be necessary to trim a church candle too. When you have excess wax on the top of the candle, you should warm the candle without making it too hot and then cut through the to the wick and subsequently around it until the wax can be lifted up.

Pillar candles need extra care. To prevent dripping, you should soak them in a salt-water solution before using them while storing them in the freezer helps too. A thin coating of olive oil on the candleholder can be another useful step. This type of candle is designed to burn for several hours at a time, so you should avoid using them for shorter periods. 

Tunnelling (where only the middle parts of the wax burn) can be fixed by scraping the wax that is currently above the line of the wick, or by removing melted wax with a cotton ball. 

What is used to light candles in church?

Finding the right candles for church, or home prayers is one thing. However, you must also ensure that you have the right accessories. This could include votive candle holders and Paschal candle holders. 

You will also need to purchase a specialised candle lighter or taper. It will commonly be used to light candles from right to left and extinguished in the opposite direction. This is a part of the traditional Eucharistic service. 

To find out more about the various candles for church and how to make the most of your church candles, feel free to contact our team of friendly experts today.

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