Best Floating Candles

Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for Best floating candles

Whether you’re setting the mood for a dinner for two or decorating for a family and friends get-together, the flicker of candlelight adds a warm and cozy ambience. One safe and simple way to add candlelight to any event is with floating candles.

You can light these small candles and set them adrift in a vase or bowl, basically any container that can hold water. They can also float in an outdoor pond or other water feature to add a festive flourish to your outdoor living space.

floating candles
Because they burn while floating on water, floating candles can be a safer alternative to more traditional candles, such as pillars or tapers.

Key considerations

Wax vs. LED

When choosing floating candles, your first decision is between wax candles that burn and candles that use LED lights. While both are festive, they each have benefits and downsides. Knowing these can help you to decide which type will best meet your needs.

Wax: Traditionalists maintain that the only way to truly enjoy candlelight is by using wax candles that burn. These floating candles are less expensive than LED candles, and you don’t need to worry about replacing batteries.

However, burning candles can smoke if you don’t keep the wicks trimmed (although many floating candles have smokeless wicks). The flame can also be inadvertently doused by water or drafts. And there is the obvious danger of open flames, although this is mitigated by the candles floating in water.

LED: The safety of LEDs is a huge plus with these candles, so these floating candles are a great option to use around children and pets. LED candles stay lit in breezy conditions, and the lights use so little power that you don’t need to replace the batteries too frequently. Many LED floating candles also have the ability to have colored light or change colors, which opens up a whole range of decorating options.

On the downside, these floating lights produce a nice candle effect, but that’s all it is: an effect. Purists might argue that they don’t compare to the light of wax candles. Also, LED floating candles are considerably more expensive than wax floating candles.

Quantity

Much like votive candles, floating candles typically come in a set usually ranging from a dozen to 100 or more. Some retailers offer you several options, so you can easily pick up the number of floating candles you need.

A larger set of floating candles has a couple of benefits. Not only do more candles give you more options for how you use them, but the price per candle is less than getting one or two at a time.

Burning the candles

Wax floating candles vary a bit but typically burn from 4 to 10 hours depending on the wax type and the size of the candles. Most are one to a few inches in diameter. Those with a smaller diameter burn for less time than those with a larger diameter. If you need floating candles to burn for a specific length of time, such as for a party, be sure you choose candles that are large enough that you don’t have to replace them halfway through the event. The batteries in LED floating candles last much longer, so “burn” time is less of an issue.

Wax floating candles typically have smokeless wicks, so they should burn without creating soot or smoke. That said, be sure to verify this by checking the description carefully.

Most floating candles have a round shape. This allows the candle to float evenly and keeps it from capsizing and extinguishing the flame.

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Features

Size

Most floating candles are a few inches in diameter. If you have a specific container in mind for your candles, measure it before ordering to verify that the candles will fit.

Shape and color

Most floating candles are rounded in shape so they float and remain upright in the water. You can find some floating candles in other shapes, such as flowers, but these are less common. Floating candles shaped like roses make an elegant touch for a wedding or other festive occasion.

Most of these candles are white, but you can find them in colors ranging from pink to blue to bronze, as well as white candles stencilled with colorful patterns.

Wax and scent

Paraffin is the overwhelming option here, although you can also find floating candles made from beeswax and soy wax.

Floating candles are generally unscented, but some are scented with citronella, a pleasant lemon scent that also repels mosquitoes and other insects and a good choice for outdoor events. For a natural honey scent, try candles made of beeswax.

floating candles
DID YOU KNOW?
Floating candles are designed to be used in still water, not running water or hot tubs with jets.
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Pricing

Inexpensive: Floating candles in the $5 to $15 range are mostly wax candles, typically smaller in diameter and fewer per package, often fewer than a dozen. These candles are usually made of paraffin.

Mid-range: Between $15 and $25, you can find larger floating candles, up to a few inches in diameter, that burn for a longer time, usually up to 10 hours. Both wax and LED floating candles are common in this range. These candles typically come in sets of one to three dozen.

Expensive: At $25 to $40 and up, you can find large sets of floating candles of three dozen up to 100 or more. High-quality LED floating candles and candles made of beeswax are common in this price range.

Some LED floating candles have an outer coating of wax to add to the illusion of real candles.

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Tips

  • Get creative with your floating candles. One simple and decorative way to display floating candles is to fill the bottom of a straight-sided jar or vase with small shells or decorative stones made of colored glass or acrylic. Fill the vase three-quarters full with water and add one or a few floating candles.
  • Trim the wicks. While it’s less of an issue with smaller candles, keep the wicks trimmed so the candles burn longer and cleaner. The optimum length of a wick is 5 millimeters.
  • Never leave floating candles unattended. While floating candles tend to be safer than other types of candles, you should never leave lighted candles unattended. This is particularly true if you have pets or young children around.
  • Try floating candle lanterns. For a different effect, floating candle lanterns are another festive and ancient way to combine candles and water for a decorative accent.
floating candles
For a stunning centerpiece, combine a floating candle with flowers in a large, shallow glass bowl.

FAQ

Q. Can these candles be used in a pool?

A. While they technically can, you might want to consider other options, such as floating candle lanterns. There are two issues with using these candles in a swimming pool. First, when the candles burn out, they leave bits of wax that need to be cleaned out of the water. Second, if you plan to use your pool while the candles are lit, any movement of the water will likely extinguish the candles fairly quickly.

Q. What kind of wax are floating candles made of?

A. Floating candles are made from different types of wax. Some of the more common include the following:

Paraffin: Petroleum-based paraffin is by far the most common type of wax used in floating candles. It’s also the least expensive wax. But because it’s made from petroleum, some users have issues with this option.

Beeswax: All-natural beeswax is also a popular choice for floating candles. Beeswax has a nice yellow color, delivers a soft ambient light, and releases a mild honey aroma when it burns. While beeswax is slow burning and environmentally friendly, it can be considerably more expensive than paraffin.

Soy: Because it’s a softer wax, soy is more often found in jar candles than in floating candles. But you can find floating candles made of wax blends that include soy wax.

Q. Can I use other types of candles as floating candles?

A. If you want a candle to burn floating on water, your best bet is to go with a floating candle that is specifically designed for the task. If you try to float something like a pillar candle, it would quickly topple over, extinguishing the flame. In a pinch, you could float votive candles, but consider using candles made to float for maximum effectiveness and safety.

 

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