Tealight candles are small candles that come in metal casings which enclose the wax as the candle burns. Typically, tealights are burned inside a candle holder, and they can be used for a variety of purposes including decoration. Many candle stores, drug stores, and markets sell tealight candles, sometimes known as tealights, usually in large bags of 50 or 100 candles. These candles are very inexpensive, and they can be useful to keep around the house.
A typical tealight is made from white wax molded in a round shape inside a small metal cup. The wick of the candle is frequently anchored to the bottom of the cup, because as the candle burns, the wax turns to liquid, and the wick could potentially float up through the liquid. Most tealight candles burn for three to five hours, depending on the quality of the wax and wick and their size.
These candles were originally devised for use in food service. Tealights can be lit under trays of food to help keep the food warm, or to keep tea warm, as the case may be. These candles are also used under oil diffusers to gently warm scented oil, encouraging it to spread through the air. A single tealight candle can give off a surprising amount of light and heat, an effect which can be magnified by using numerous candles together.
Holders for tealight candles come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are very small, and designed primarily to protect surrounding surfaces from the heat of the candle. Others are larger, and it is also possible to find candle racks which are meant to accommodate multiple tealights. Glass is a common choice for tealight holders, but ceramics and metals can be used as well.
These candles do carry a fire hazard. They can get extremely hot, especially if flammable materials fall into the candle. The heat can deform the metal cup and make it extremely hot, potentially allowing the metal to burn into the underlying surface. If the candle tips or wax spills out of the deformed metal, a fire can start and spread very rapidly, using the wax of the candle as a fuel source. For this reason, it is important to use tealight holders, tiles, trivets, or plates with tealight candles, or to burn the candles on a fire-resistant surface like stone or tile. Tealights should also not be left unattended, and flammable materials should be kept clear of the candles as they burn.