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What are Candle Holders?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 16, 2024
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Candle holders are heat-proof containers used to hold and display candles safely. They are almost always made of glass, metal or cast iron. Some are plain and purely functional, while others are decorative and used to improve the look of a home. Candle holders are also used as part of religious rituals.

Candle holders come in different shapes and sizes to hold differently sized candles. Some are shaped like tall glasses, and are used to fully enclose a tall, wide candle such as a pillar candle. Others are simply plates, which are placed underneath the candle to protect the surface underneath, such as a wooden table. A votive holder is a small jar used to hold votive candles.

Candlesticks can be simple or ornate, and are used to hold taller, thin tapered candles. These are more traditional decorations and often placed as centerpieces on dining room tables. You might also use a wall sconce as a candle holder. These are usually made of metal and are mounted on the wall. For burning small, flat tart candles, tart burners are available. These often look like a vase with a small plate on top.

Decorative candle holders are also quite popular. These come in different sizes, patterns and colors to match any decor or occasion. Some feature patterns on the outside of the holder, so when a lit candle is placed inside, the patterns or pictures will be projected onto a wall. Candle holders are often seen in the shape of lanterns, which can serve a purely decorative purpose or can be used outside while camping.

A candelabra is a type of candle holder that holds more than one candle. These too can be in any shape or size, and can hold large taper candles or small votive candles. Candle holders can be as simple or as ornate as your taste dictates, and there are candlesticks available for any preference. These make great gifts, and choosing some nicely scented candles to go with the candle holder is especially thoughtful.

Even when you are using a heat-proof candle holder, it is important to be safe. Do not place the candle anywhere where a child or pet could accidentally knock it onto themselves or brush against it. Trim the wick before you light the candle each time to keep the flame small, and be cautious when putting out the candle not to spill hot wax on yourself or any other surface.

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Discussion Comments
By Jacques6 — On Jul 30, 2011

@Almita - I'm not sure how to recognize bronze candlesticks, but I know about brass ones. The first thing I look for on a supposedly antique candlestick holder is a seam up the stem. Old candle holders were made by melding two halves together. If there is a seam, it's likely an antique.

I'm sure you can tell the difference in the polish on bronze as much as brass – I'm just not sure on the particulars. If you really want to make sure, take it to an antique dealer. They can identify fakes easily.

By Almita — On Jul 29, 2011

My mom has beautiful tall candle holders -- I think they might actually be antiques. They are gorgeous bronze with elaborate swirls at the bases.

I bought ones that look similar to them, but I'm pretty sure that they aren't as antique as the seller thought. They just lack that regal look and shine. They are also a little smaller than mom's. I'm not sure if that has anything to do with it – but do antique candle holders have a particular size?

There has to be some way to tell if they are real. Does anyone have any idea how to recognize authentic bronze candlestick holders?

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