Do some candle widths just not work very well?

It seems to me that 99% or better of candles fit into two categories with respect to their width: ones that are the more or less “standard” size candle (3/4 to 7/8") or skinnier; and pillar candles that are about 3" in diameter or bigger. You have votive candles that are maybe 1" wide or a little bigger, and pillar candles down to maybe 2 1/2". In between there seems to be a no-mans’ land that you rarely see. It’s a shame because I’ve always thought that aesthetically 1.5" to 1.75" would be ideal, but this size just doesn’t seem to work. Either the wick burns down to a tiny blue flicker, or you get big spills of melted wax (or both alternately). Any candle experts care to chime in?

When I was a kid I made and sold candles of varying diameters, depending on what kind of molds I could find to pour the wax into. I don’t remember any particular issue with smaller diameter candles versus more standard sizes, except the less wax I used the faster they burned/melted. I may have used smaller wicks for smaller candles… but I don’t really remember.

I would assume the standard sizes became standard because that’s what people wanted and manufacturers standardized on those sizes. I burn votive candles all the time in small glass jars and they work fine in most situations. YMMV.

In a free-standing candle, a large flame (dictated by the size of the wick) will consume the candle fast and uniformly. A small flame causes pooling of melted wax that eventually spills. In a confined candle (in a container) a small wick could burn out if it gets “flooded” by too much melted wax. This usually happens at start, or when it’s too small and the end runs out of carbon and “ashes” out. Too big a wick, on the other hand burns up the wax too fast and often collects soot residue on the end of the wick.

For an interesting burn, try affixing a standard taper into a large glass jar or any deep container, light it up, and then flood the container with water. See what happens when the flame reaches the level of the water.

Wider candles have a wire in the wick. And the wick does not drown in the melted wax.

If you burn a candle in a draft it will burn more on one side. It’s called ‘gutting’. I just wanted to share that bit of info.

<nitpick> Guttering
I thought that the ideal was that you would be burning the vapour from the melted wax. If wax drips down the side it is wasted, surely?

Well, wasted for producing light, at least. You can get some interesting effects from layers of melted wax building up on a candle holder. It used to be a thing to stick a colored candle in a wine bottle, burn it in a draft, put in a different-colored candle, rotate it a bit, and repeat.

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<nitpick> Guttering
Yep, you’re correct.

I remember getting some candles in that in-between size that would burn, form a puddle and start melting down the center, but eventually and rather quickly a wall would melt away and the wax just pour out. After this happened the candle wick burn down into the candle very quickly with most of the wax just running down to that side. Larger ones would not let the pool drain as the walls were cool enough not to melt and smaller ones basically would burn most of what the melted. That in-between size was a disappointment every time.

By George, I think that is it. So maybe in-between sizes would work if you used a very high-melting point almost-plastic wax?