Do Tealight Candles Float in Water (How To)

Yes, tealight candles float in water primarily due to their shape and size.

However, there are some essential steps to take before putting your candles in water to ensure they perform as you expect them to.

This article will cover the differences between regular and floating tealight candles, why candles float in the water, and how to float your candles properly.

Regular Tealight Candles Vs. Floating Tealight Candles

Both regular and floating tealight candles will float, so what’s the difference?

Below is a picture of a regular and floating tealight candle side by side.

image of a regular tealight and floating tealight candle side by side for comparison

The shape of the regular tealight is flat and angular, and the floating tealight has a rounded shape.

In addition, the floating tealight has more surface area to help with buoyancy, and the rounded top can help protect the flame from water pooling on the surface.

Although there are some clear advantages to tealights made for floating, regular tealights can still float in water.

For floating, regular tealights are more applicable for candle holders that won’t allow enough space for water to interfere with the candle’s flame.

Why Do Candles Float in Water?

To answer this, let’s first go over what density is.

Everything is made of atoms or molecules, and the higher the concentration of molecules in an object, the denser it is.

Anything denser than water will sink, and anything less dense than water will float. Since candle wax is less dense than water, it’ll float.

But there’s more.

There’s also the Archimedes Principle or the law of buoyancy.

The Archimedes Principle, referenced from Britannica, states that any object completely or partially submerged in a fluid at rest is acted upon by an upward, or buoyant, force, the magnitude of which is equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object.

diagram displaying the archimedes principle

If the object is heavier than the buoyant force, the object will sink.

As the weight of displaced water increases, the buoyant force upward by the water increases.

More surface area will increase the amount of displaced water, allowing the object to offset its own weight.

Regarding candles, tealights are a perfect fit for floating because they are small and flat. Other more vertically shaped candles will not be able to stay upright without modification.

How to Float Tealight Candles

If you’re using a large body of water like a fountain or water bowl centerpiece, make sure not to overdo it and crowd the entire surface with candles.

Give the candles room to breathe and move around, and you’ll have a better decorative piece.

When placing the candles in water, hold the candle by the wick and gently place it in the water to avoid water flooding the top of the candle.

You can float tealight candles directly in water, but there’s an important step you must take before doing so, and there are a couple of other options that may be more suitable for your needs.

Prep Your Candle Before Floating (Do Not Skip)

Whether you have a regular or floating tealight candle, check the bottom of the candle before placing it in water.

On the bottom of the candle, you’ll see the wick tab, which holds the wick in place.

Before the candle floats, this wick tab must be sealed and protected from moisture.

image showing the wick tab exposed in a regular tealight candle and the wick tab sealed with wax in a floating tealight candle

In the image above, on the left, you’ll see a regular tealight candle with an exposed wick tab. On the right is a tealight candle with a layer of wax sealing the wick tab.

To seal the wick tab, light another candle and drip wax over the top of the wick tab until it is fully covered. Allow the wax to solidify, and your tealight candle will be ready to float in water.

Use a Candle Holder

There are many creative options for displaying floating candles, and candle holders can be a stylish addition to your set.

These are stand-alone candle holders big enough to fit one tealight candle, so you don’t have to worry about the candle flipping over and the flame being exposed to water.

The candle will float on the water inside the candle holder giving off an elegant design.

Candle holders are great for decorative table sets, centerpieces, parties, and events.

Floating Candle Holder

The floating candle holder will only hold the candle, and no water will make contact with the candle.

This method protects the wick and flame from being exposed to water as the candle will sit inside the dry candle holder while the holder floats on the water.

If you’re trying to float candles in a fountain or body of water that may not be so calm, then this can be a solution that will look great while protecting the candles from tipping over or getting blown out from water exposure or wind.