A tealight (also tea-light, tea light, tea candle, or informally tea lite, t-lite or t-candle) is a candle in a thin metal or plastic cup so that the candle can liquefy completely while lit. They are typically small, circular, wider than their height and inexpensive. Tealights derive their name from their use in teapot warmers, but are also used as food warmers in general, e.g. fondue.
Tealights are a popular choice for votive candles. They are also suitable for accent lighting and for heating scented oil. Tealights may be set afloat on water for decorative effect. Because of their small size and low level of light, multiple tealights are often burned simultaneously. Longer-burning tealights may be called nightlights.
Tealights can come in many different shapes and sizes, small and large, as well as burn times and scents. However, tealights are commonly short and cylindrical, approximately 38 mm (1.5 in) in diameter by 16 mm (0.63 in) high, with white unscented wax.
The wick is tethered to a piece of metal to stop it from floating to the top of the molten wax and burning out before the wax does.
Tealights have been protected under several patented designs. In some cases, the standard tea light metal cup has been replaced with a clear plastic cup, sometimes made out of polycarbonate plastic. The clear cup allows more light to escape the holder. However, the metal cups are much more common.
Tealights are especially popular for use with candle holders. From small pockets of glass, metal, ceramic, and other materials to larger, more elaborate tea light lamps, holders come in a wide range of styles, colours, and shapes. Holders have an appropriately sized cup to use a tealight candle, either scented or unscented. Discount stores, gift stores, and home decor stores often carry an array of holders for these small candles.