Scented candles get a lot of love around here — but tapers deserve some, too. With their long, elegant shape, they can function as a sculptural object, at home on a mantelpiece or credenza when unlit. But where they really shine is when they’re part of a table setting, nestled among water glasses and serving bowls, slowly dripping down to nothing over the stretch of a dinner party.
To find out which tapers are worth buying, we reached out to interior designers, home-goods-store owners, and other candle obsessives to learn about their favorites. Then we categorized them by material: Most are either natural beeswax or paraffin, with one pick made of stearin wax, derived from animal or vegetable fat. And if you’re in the market for holders, we’ve got you covered there, too.
Best natural beeswax taper candles
These tapers from Danica, hand-dipped in mid-coast Maine, got more recommendations than any other on this list. Recipe developer and food stylist Chloe Walsh says they don’t drip too intensely and will last a whole evening. Jenny Kaplan, owner of creative agency An Aesthetic Pursuit, calls the range of colors in the collection “really beautiful.” “I love that you can mix and match them to add some dimension to your table setting,” she says. Alisha Ramos, founder of Girls’ Night In, is also a fan. “They’re incredibly decently priced given how many are in a box,” she says (this is especially true for beeswax candles, which are more expensive to produce than paraffin). “They’re my everyday candles, and less so my pretty display candles.” Food writer and recipe developer Anna Stockwell loves them, too. “The Danica website is the most old-fashioned website ever and a major pain in the butt to use,” she says, “but they ship superfast.”
If you’re looking for candles that will burn for hours, take a note from de Lisle: “I have bought church candles through General Wax in L.A. for years, both tapers and the ones in glass jars” he says. “The candles made for churches last longest and burn clean” — perfect for dinner parties. General Wax bills the candles as “a favorite among religious institutions for decades.”
Both Sandeep Salter, owner of New York City’s Salter House, and Kalen Kaminski, founder of the glassware and textiles company Upstate, are partial to Massachusetts-based Beverly Bees. Kaminski likes the deep-yellow natural hue of the candles and says the burn lasts all evening. Salter also says she’s “drawn to the color” and calls the smell of the melting honeybee wax “divine.” Both experts mentioned they appreciate that the company rescues bees from extermination and rehabilitates them in their hives.
For a bit of visual intrigue, Stockwell adores these hexagonal tapers. “They’re just a little something different,” she says. Walsh says she loves all the muted, earthy colors they come in and says the burn will last an entire evening.
Kaminski says she often lights these wavy candles during dinner parties. “My style for setting the table includes so much color and design that it’s nice to have a simpler candle — but one that still offers intrigue,” she says. She says the wax looks pretty and delicate as it drips down the squiggly sides and that “they smell slightly sweet, like honey, but not in an overly scented way.”
Ramos turns to these handcrafted candles from Etsy for color. “The selection is excellent. They’re vibrant, and you can mix and match to your heart’s desire,” she says. “Also, because of the hollowed design, if you ever need to squeeze one into a holder that isn’t necessarily the perfect size, it’s very easy to do.”
For an easy Amazon option, Stockwell’s go-tos are these Bluecorn beeswax candles. She buys them in bulk to always have on hand. I’ve used them before, too, based on her recommendation. They have a very long burn time, about an hour per inch, and never drip wax onto my holders or table.
Greentree Candles’ colorful tapers are Salter’s “number one go-to” for their natural beeswax scent and the range of available shades and sizes, including that shorter six inches. “Color is important to me when selecting candles — I love naturally dyed beeswax, and I am very into darker colored wax, like black and burgundy,” she says. “I also cannot resist a robin’s-egg blue candle. It’s so regal.” Recipe developer and cookbook author Melina Hammer has these tapers out “on repeat, front and center, when guests are over,” she says. “They look substantial and classic.”
For a design-centric choice, Hammer recommends these tapers in the shape of tree branches, which she says “have a really beautiful organic formation.” They’re on the more expensive side, but Hammer keeps them for special occasions and even sets them out, unlit, among other tapers as a focal point. When she does, though, she notes that the smell is “very slightly sweet and lovely.”
Best paraffin-wax taper candles
While beeswax has the benefit of being all-natural and smelling great, paraffin wax is known for being clean-burning (meaning it won’t leave behind soot) and not creating smoke. “I burn a lot of candles — normally I have ten or more going per night — so I like to buy in bulk,” says real-estate agent and candle obsessive Robert Khederian, who has written about the wax he uses to keep his tapered candles in place for the Strategist. If you, too, want to stock up on candlesticks, Khederian suggests this pack of 11-inch Bolsius tapers, which come in a pack of 50. Khederian says that each candle lasts for about ten hours, and should you invest, the cost works out to be less than $1 a candle.
Three of the interior designers we spoke to recommended the Floral Society’s taper paraffin-wax candles, which come in 12- and 18-inch heights and burn without dripping. EyeSwoon’s Athena Calderone is partial to the taller ones. “These are my favorite tapers for their elongated elegance,” she says. “They’re perfect for elevating your tablescape or adding verticality to a vignette. They are available in a wide range of colors and burn slowly, at about an inch per hour. I always have extras on hand!” Interior designer Dane Pressner is particularly drawn to tapers that actually taper toward the top. “I love them to look like they were made by hand,” he says. Never one to shy away from drama, he also “always buys ones that are at least 18 inches in height.” Pressner goes for the candles in darker colors, and says that lately he’s been burning lots of black and dark-blue tapers at his country house. Interior designer Elizabeth Roberts, who also recommended tapers from the brand, prefers the 12-inch height in a lighter shade. “All of the colors are beautiful but greige is a particularly perfect noncolor,” she says. “It looks very natural, so that you really see the beautiful shape of the candle and the flame — and they burn slowly and do not drip, to boot.” The fact that the pair comes together on one braided wick adds to the appeal, too.
Rebekah Peppler, author of À Table, burns these dripless and smokeless candles on the regular. “Like most writers, I have a few rituals that get me to my desk/dining room table,” she says. “One of my favorites is setting up a few candles the night before. Something about lighting them before sitting down and getting straight into it often makes for my best work.” She mixes and matches ones in differing heights for a bit of visual drama.
Walsh and photographer Julia Stotz recommend Hay’s paraffin candles, which come in three styles: a very loose wrap, a tight twist, and a bubblier twist. “They’re just slightly more interesting than a straight taper, but not so precious that you’re hesitant to burn them,” Walsh says. Stotz likes the soft tones, which she calls “lovely and not abrasive,” and both experts say the burn is clean and long-lasting.
Interior designer Jamie Bush recommended these Royal Design candles, which are made in Denmark “through repeated hand-dippings, upwards of 30 times,” he tells us. Thanks to that repetition, the candles have a particularly tapered tip. Plus, they’ll last through even your longer dinners, without making a mess. “The candles burn without any drip and have a slower, cleaner burn with less smoke emitted than other candles,” says Bush.
Best stearin-wax taper candles
Like beeswax, stearin is an all-natural material made from animal or vegetable fats like tallow or palm oil. It has a higher melting point than paraffin, which means the burn lasts longer, a feature Walsh says she appreciates about these candles from Maison Balzac. She also loves how this particular style melts where “each bulb sort of sinks into itself, turns into a plate shape, and then moves down to the next one,” she says. Since discovering them about a year ago, cook Ethaney Lee has been buying the straight taper version for dinner parties and to place by her bedside. “They last a whole long dinner party, and they don’t drip any wax,” she says, “so I don’t have to worry about staining my tablecloths.”
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