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From wax to wicks: A retailer’s guide to choosing candles

March 13, 2024 | Published by Faire

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Boheme Fragrances candle on a rock.
Boheme Fragrances, an eco-friendly and women-owned candle purveyor

No matter the focus or look of your store, there are types of candles that would be perfect for your shelves. You can choose from candles based on children’s books, candles shaped like mythical figures, and candles inspired by pop culture. There’s no shortage of options to choose from, and this guide will help you choose ones that your customers will love. 

Different types of candles

Before you can find the best candles for your shop, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the many options out there. Here is a detailed breakdown of different types of candles—along with some great examples.  

Pillar candles

With their self-standing elegance and long burn times, pillar candles are celebrated for their versatility. You can choose anything from dripping black pillar candles that cast a gothic glow to bright and funky candles that infuse a space with joy. Whether you prefer a wry cat-shaped candle or the natural allure of sculpted beeswax, there’s a pillar candle for every aesthetic.


Yellow tealights in white speckled ceramic cups.
Tealights set from Five Bees Yard

Small but mighty, tealights offer a range of applications and aesthetics. You can offer your customers a set of candles that track the phases of the moon, tealights that look and smell like flowers, or beeswax options that offer a natural, clean burn. As a larger ticket item, consider something like scent-discovery sets

Votive candles

Small candle set on top of vase with lable Smells like face masks, do not disturb, and mint & eucalyptus.
Self care candle from Anecdote Candles

Bringing a sense of peace and mindfulness, votive candles have extended beyond their religious origins. Featuring everything from dried pressed flowers to contemporary cultural figures, they often represent the bearer’s intentions, hopes, or gratitude. Some votive candles are even intended to help the burner navigate grief and find love.  

Tapered candles

Colorful pillar candles in amber glass holders.
Tapered candles from Scandles

Designed to fit into candlesticks or candelabras, tapered candles offer a traditional, sophisticated lighting option. From hand-painted to colorful and textured options, tapered candles are often sold in pairs. You can even offer your customers candles that burn for exactly 20 minutes, used for timed mindfulness practices. 

Birthday candles

Rainbow birthday candles.
Assorted birthday candles from Knot & Bow

A key part of every birthday celebration is the birthday candles. But these aren’t the candles from your childhood—there are all kinds of creative options nowadays: These numbered candles are shaped from natural beeswax and these itty-bitty pastel candles couldn’t be cuter. Faire has candles of every color of the rainbow and colorful striped collections. Some candles spin and play “Happy Birthday” for an even more festive feel. 

Floating candles

Floating candles in glass domes.
Floating candle from BOLSIUS

Designed to illuminate the surface of water, floating candles add a touch of magic to any setting. Shaped to look like bright yellow suns, maple leaves, or white lotus flowers, these candles have a buoyant base to stay atop water. Available in everything from bee-shaped beeswax to metallic tones, they work in bowls, specially crafted vases, or outdoor ponds.

Flameless candles

Electric pillar candles in living room.
Flameless candles from Sandstone & Sage

Offering warm ambience without the flame, flameless candles are a worry-free option. Taper-shaped candles provide a timeless elegance, and for a more unique style, there are color-changing candles and metallic gold choices. For even more convenience, some options even come with a remote control

Types of candle wax 

Tin container candles from Homebody with a Hazy Summer label.
Coconut wax candles from Homebody Candle Co.

The type of wax used to make a candle can greatly influence its burn time, scent throw (how fully a scent permeates a space), and cost—and customers will have their favorites. Here are the main types of candle wax:

  • Paraffin candles: The most commonly used candle wax, paraffin is known for its excellent scent-throwing abilities and affordability.
  • Soy candles: Soy wax is a popular choice for eco-conscious consumers. It burns soot-free and is renewable, biodegradable, and vegan-friendly.
  • Beeswax candles: Harvested from beehives, beeswax is one of the oldest types of wax. It burns cleanly and slowly, with a sweet, honey-like scent. 
  • Coconut wax candles: Prized for its lower melting point—which can lead to a longer burn time—coconut wax is often blended with other types of wax.

Wick material will also play a role in what your customers choose to buy. Candles with cotton wicks are known for their reliability and consistent burn, while those with wooden wicks have gained popularity for the cozy, crackling fireplace sounds they make. 

Types of candle scents

Four candles from P.F. Candle Co on wooden bookshelf.
A range of scents from P.F. Candle Co.

Adding a beautiful scent is the perfect way to change the mood of a space. For this reason, it might play the largest role in helping your customers choose a candle—whether they are looking for something comforting and simple or an evocative blend that holds a deeper meaning. 

Scents can be organized into a few categories: 


Warm scents are cozy fragrances that evoke feelings of contentment. They might be sweet and rich like vanilla, resinous like amber scents, or even pumpkin spice. The complex layers of aromatic scents often combine all three. Warm scents can transform spaces into calm sanctuaries. 

Some warm candle scents include:


Clean scents breathe life and freshness into any environment. They include the bracing smell of the ocean, the crisp outdoor air of fresh scents, the familiar laundered aroma of clean linen, and the brightness of citronella.

Some clean candle scents include: 


Botanical scents bring the lush and lively smells of the outdoors inside. Some common notes are deep, rich forest aromas of woody scents, succulent fruity scents, and delicate blooming fragrances of flowers

Some botanical candle scents include:

  • Howl — han yuzu and hinoki woods
  • Thorns & Roses — pink peppercorn, grapefruit, plum, and black rose
  • Mycology — moss and fallen leaves
  • Oh My Sweet Pea — jasmine, violets, and sweet pea flowers
  • Confetti — mandarin, violet, and fresh berries

Be aware that not all customers are looking for scented candles. For those who prefer the ambience of a candle without the fragrance, there are plenty of unscented candles to choose from.

Candle-related accessories

Offering accessories alongside candles can significantly enhance their appeal and utility—and picking products that match the style and quality of the candles you’ve ordered can elevate the overall presentation. Here are some items to consider stocking: 


4 pillar candles in rustic candle holders.
Tapered candles shown in a Beysis candle stick holder

Candleholders come in a variety of styles, materials, and designs. From glass lanterns to kitschy pink poodles, they not only secure candles safely but also enhance the aesthetic of any space.

Lighters and matches

Cactus matchboxes.
Desert cactus match set from Branded K Co.

Lighters and matches are essential tools for candle enthusiasts. Vintage reproduction matchboxes are great conversation starters, while a sleek electric lighter provides safety and reliability. Both can make lighting a candle a lovely ritual. 


Tapered candelabra with electric candles.
5-taper candelabra from Napa Home & Garden

Candelabras are iconic statement pieces that hold multiple candles. Traditionally crafted from materials like brass or silver, candelabras can also be chunky and colorful.

Wick trimmers

Black candle wick trimmer on wooden table.
Wick trimmer from P.F. Candle Co.

Wick trimmers are designed to cut a candle’s wick to the ideal length before each burning, preventing soot buildup and uneven melting. Offered in shiny rose gold or timeless matte black, they are a must-have accessory for any candle lover.

Candle snuffers

Broze candle snuffer.
Candle snuffer from Vellabox

Candle snuffers extinguish a flame neatly and safely. They come in a variety of unexpected styles like Victorian stocking legs and cheerful tabby cats. A candle snuffer is a practical tool steeped in tradition, making it a perfect gift for enthusiasts.

Which candles are right for your store? 

When selecting candles for your retail space, the choices you make should not only reflect the preferences of your customers but also the ethos and aesthetic of your store. Candles offer a unique opportunity to enhance the ambience of your shop, tell a story, and even communicate your values. Here are key considerations to keep in mind:

  • Match the look and feel of your shop: The candles you choose should complement the overall look and feel of your store. The design and look of the labels should fit with your store’s branding, whether you aim for a spa-like, playful, or artistic environment.
  • Pair with existing stock: Think about how candles can be bundled with other items in your store to encourage shoppers to buy more products. For instance, candles inspired by books in a bookshop, candles inspired by games in a game shop, or candles inspired by history in an antique shop.

Work with values-aligned vendors: The values behind products can be as important as the products themselves. Eco-friendly candles made from sustainable waxes like soy or beeswax, brands that emphasize giving back through charitable contributions, or those that pride themselves on handmade craftsmanship will reinforce your brand identity and build trust and loyalty among your clientele.

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