Lighting your home with candles

The simple candle has gone through a transformation in the last few decades. What was once a festive staple has become a year-round, fashionable necessity in many households. With so many upmarket brands releasing expensive scented candles aimed at zhooshing the home, it seems everyone is keen to cash in on the UK’s growing candle culture.

Silver candlestick

But not all candles are created equal and there are many considerations when lighting your home with these time-old products. With autumn now in full swing, it’s worth taking a moment’s pause to consider your candles.

Candles: good or bad?

Candles may seem like a natural, environmentally friendly product, but there is a raging debate over their green credentials. The main issue is their composition: most cheap candles are made of paraffin, a byproduct of crude oil refining. It’s arguable that using a petroleum byproduct reduces waste that would otherwise be dumped but, however you look at it, your average candle isn’t as clean as you may think. Many also argue that candles, especially those made of paraffin, release toxins when burnt. This is not surprising: anything that burns will dirty its atmosphere.


Candle lovers shouldn’t despair at all. While a burning candle may release toxins, the emissions will be minuscule compared to notorious polluters such as cars. And whatever the environmental minutiae, you can rest assured it’s better than using electricity to light your room.

patterned candle

Image source: Kris Atomic

There are ways to get round paraffin wax too. For a start, opt for more natural wax compositions. Beeswax and soy wax candles, which are usually billed as organic, are cleaner candles that will burn longer and emit less chemicals than their paraffin counterparts. Just make sure that the beeswax or soy wax is sourced sustainably. The best choice is to buy beeswax candles made locally. Paper or pure cotton wicks are also a bonus. To reduce emissions, remember to always trim your wick by pulling off the burnt tip.

Contain your candles

It goes without saying that it’s important to burn your candles safely. Burning candles in safe places, away from gentle drafts and never using a candle as a night light are just some of the rules most of us follow already.

For total peace of mind, candles can be put in closed off containers. Metal lanterns, luckily, are very on trend at the moment. As well as looking effortless and clean, they can safely hold a candle, eliminating any risk of the flame spreading and reducing the impact of emissions.

metal lantern

Image source: Pixabay

While there are plenty of glass lanterns to choose from, ranging from very tall floor lanterns to hanging types to more exotic patterned ones, the most stylish choices out there at the moment are thin glass, copper lanterns. These look excellent dotted around on tables or other surfaces and are a much more delicate choice than chunkier lanterns with heavy tops.

In fact, copper candle holders are enjoying huge popularity at the moment. Having come over from Scandinavia, they now feature as a staple in most design-orientated homes. Opt for thin, elegant designs with clean lines.

Lighting your home

Candles offer a glow that’s cosy, atmospheric and generous and are one of the oldest and most reliable ways to light your home. For maximum glow, place candles next to mirrors, be it above a fireplace or in a container next to a mirror resting against a wall. Windows work well too. A candle in a glass holder will also be brighter as the light inside will be refracted. Similarly, candles will offer more light against a white wall.

candlesticks by window

Image source: Pixabay

Choose candle holders made of metal as these will reflect more light. A single candelabrum in the middle of the room on a table, say, will be iridescent and offer far more light than smaller candles on a flat plate. Another benefit to candelabrums and other taller candle holders is that the candle shines at height, providing more vertical lighting than those placed at lower levels.

For added lighting, use a candle with multiple wicks: more flames mean more light. A large candle like this, placed in a glass lantern, will offer a surprising amount of light.

Candles can be a great alternative to the main light. But if your main light keeps going on the blink, let us find you an electrician to help. They might be perfect for when you want to create a cosy atmosphere, but they’re not so great as a permanent replacement!

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  1. I think it’s a good idea you’ve brought up to contain candles in lanterns to make them less of a hazard. Plus, I think lantern candle light does a lot to create a unique atmosphere in or outside of the home. It is a unique way to utilize light and decor while still providing protective functionality.

  2. Candles also provide a more natural night time light so your ar enot getting any more UV rays after the sun goes down. Promotes better sleep.

    1. Incandescent and fluorescent lights do not emit UV. You’re thinking of blue light, which is abundant in sunlight and some light bulbs, but not candle light.

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