April 05, 2016 3 min read

Luminaries are great outdoor decorations. They are classy, inexpensive, and easy to create. What are the best candles for luminaries?A luminary is perfect for any event or season, they are especially popular for holiday decor. As someone who has created and used over 10,000 luminaries, I have great experience in the best ways to create and display . There are many questions about the best way to create a luminary and one of them is what type of candle to use inside of the luminary.Before we answer the question, what exactly is a luminary? A luminary or luminaria is a paper decoration that contains a candle. Most common is the use of a white paper bag for the luminary with a candle inside of it. It is such a simple design, but it produces a powerful visual. Most people when observing a luminary are filled with a sense of calm, serenity, and beauty. It reminds us that the even in a high tech age, the simplest of objects can capture our attention and imagination.No matter what style of paper decoration you use for the luminary, what type of candle should you use? Here are four important considerations.
  1. Safety

  2. Burn time

  3. Ease of use

  4. Cost


As with any use of candles, safety should always be a consideration. First, you should consider if you will be using the luminary while it sits on something that is flammable. For example, if you are using the luminary indoors or in an outdoor setting on grass, you should not use a candle with a flame. The reason is the paper decoration containing the candle could catch fire. While this is rare if you make the luminary properly, it can still happen. In this environment, the use of is your best option. This is a battery operated , that is very safe and produces a flickering effect almost identical to a . If you are using your luminary outdoors on a surface such as a street or sidewalk, then you can safely use a traditional candle.

Burn Time

Making luminaries takes time and once they are lit, you want them to last forever! Burn time is a key consideration to find the best candle for a luminary. In addition to being safe, LED tealight candles will stay lit for up to 100 hours on the included battery. This allows you to use them an entire night for a neighborhood display and then reuse them for other nights. A traditional tealight will burn for 3-5 hours. A votive candle when used with a proper votive holder will last for 10 hours.

Ease of Use

Which candle is the easiest to use when you make a luminary? A traditional tealight is very easy to use. It has a built in holder, it is easy to light, and is disposable so cleanup is as simple as throwing it away. A votive candle is similar to a tealight but it adds the extra step of using a holder. Due to the expense of the holder, you will most likely keep it for later use and this will make the setup and cleanup more timely. A LED tealight is easy to use in the luminary but due to the cost, it will be retained for later uses and will require more time to retrieve and store.


Luminary displays tend to use lots of candles, so cost will be an important consideration. Bulk tealights cost about $0.08 each. Bulk votives with a glass holder are about $0.56 each. Bulk LED tealights are about $0.56 each.Given all these factors, which is the best candle for a luminary? If you are using them in an outdoor setting on a fireproof surface, a tealight candle offer great value, a decent burn time, and easy cleanup. Otherwise, you should use an LED tea light. They are the safest, longest lasting, and offer a good value. Due to the strong performance of these candles, I do not recommend using votives for luminaries.When planning you next party, event, or wedding you should consider using a luminary candle to make your event Amazing!