What are your favorite candles?
January 2, 2019 10:39 AM   Subscribe

I've long avoided keeping candles in my apartment out of some deep fear of accidentally burning my whole life down. And so, well into my 37th year, I've only just now realized that they have other qualities, such as, um . . . they smell nice? What are your favorite candles and where can I buy them? (I have no guidelines about scent other than not wanting my apartment to smell like Bath & Bodyworks in 1997. I don't want to be hit in the head with synthetic fruit smells.)
posted by kensington314 to Home & Garden (27 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
I feel like this is a very basic level of candle-usage, but I really do like Yankee Candle. Compared to cheaper candles, they burn more evenly and smell way nicer. I only buy them when they're on sale, which is pretty much all of the time.
posted by papayaninja at 10:45 AM on January 2 [3 favorites]

This is my absolute favorite-ever candle. It smells like a fir tree. It is divine - I bought some for my mother and grandmother and they agree. It does not smell synthetic or sweet at all. I have purchased them at Indigo and the AGO (in Toronto) so I have just linked you to their website. I cannot vouch for their other scented products, but the Frasier Fir candles are my favorite.
posted by hepta at 10:47 AM on January 2 [7 favorites]

Candles do smell nice, and they help eradicate cooking odors from my very small house. Yay!

I have learned the hard way though, that Yankee Candles fuck me up. Further experimentation lead me to the conclusion that pretty much any paraffin wax candle will lead to asthma symptoms for me. I like a good soy or coconut wax candle - Mrs Meyer's makes a nice soy if you like their scents, and Voluspa is super luxe when I'm feeling fancy.
posted by ferociouskitty at 10:49 AM on January 2 [4 favorites]

I like Voluspa and Capri Blue (especially the Volcano scent, which is light and fresh). I also like the WoodWick candles, which I think are made by Yankee Candle. Their wick crackles as it burns, which sounds like a lil' fireplace.
posted by rachaelfaith at 10:50 AM on January 2

I really, really liked a peony-scented candle I got from 1803 Candles. I can't seem to find it on their site anymore, but their other floral / botanical scents are great.
posted by Fig at 10:58 AM on January 2

I like Mrs. Meyer's Iowa pine, and I am currently burning Yankee's "snow-covered forests." But I got that one at Marshall's, so it might be limited. I love crackling wicks!
posted by jgirl at 11:02 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]

I like various candles, including some that have been mentioned already. Root Candles have some nice fragrances. My current favorites from them are Tobacco Vanilla and Chocolate Chiffon.

You might find them sold locally. Their website has a store locator. The stores that carry them tend to have a limited selection, but it would give you an idea of at least a few of the fragrances.

Shipping is expensive when ordering through their website, but they have good sales pretty frequently. Right now they have a bunch of different votives on sale for $1-$1.25.

If you just want to try browsing candles at a store, Anthropologie tends to have a good selection of candles in general. Usually nice local gift shops will have quality candles too.
posted by bananana at 11:09 AM on January 2 [4 favorites]

I like unscented candles and burn them a lot. I have found that the plain white or ivory candles from Pottery Barn are really very, very good--specifically, the stuff that makes up the body of the candle is very high quality. Large candles (substantially bigger than tea lights or votives) burn evenly all the way down. With cheaper candles, they tend to get all cattywompus and dribble wax all over. PB also sells scented candles but I don't have as much experience with those.
posted by Sublimity at 11:11 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]

I just bought that fir one hepta mentions. I got it for my mom and it’s lovely!

My fav candles are probably rewind ones.
posted by greermahoney at 11:14 AM on January 2

Recommending a scent is going to be really tough because this is such a personal thing (for instance, I find that Yankee Candle's scents can be artificial and cloying). In general - I find that the more inexpensive the candle, the more artificial the scent. However, the inexpensive brands can do okay with grassy and woody scents (stuff like "fresh cut lawn" or "night forest" or stuff like that). I also find that rose and lavendar are tough to get right without spending a lot for it. And so this isn't entirely negative - don't be afraid of a candle that claims to be "tobacco" scented. I was pleasantly surprised - it doesn't smell like an ash tray, it's more of a leafy sort of scent that is not bad. I swear I've also seen a "tomato leaf" candle that has a similar quality.

Two brands/lines I find myself tempted by are Paddywax and Frostbeard. Paddywax has a ton of different styles of containers to go with its range of scents; but a fun thing to discover is its "library" collection, where they've come up with a range of scents that they claim are evocative of different authors (Shakespeare has some eucalyptus, lime, papyrus and sandalwood; John Steinbeck has fruits and spice and woods; Mark Twain is orange and cinnamon, some tobacco and amber; etc.). Frostbeard goes even further and is entirely inspired by books and reading - there are scents inspired by Harry Potter and Game of Thrones and Lord Of the Rings, scents inspired by used bookstores and libraries and coffee shops....Frostbeard has sampler packs in tealight-sized candles, so you can give them a try before committing.

If you live near a craft store, you may also want to consider the DIY approach. If you get a fragrance oil you really really really really like, get like a pound of soy wax flakes and a pre-set-up wick, then recycle an old jam jar to turn that fragrance into your own candle. It's just a matter of melting some of the wax in a microwave, setting up the wick inside the jar, scenting the melted wax with a little of the oil and pouring it into the jar. I've taken this approach because my candle habit was getting a little spendy (and a candlemaking friend gave me her old set of stuff when she was moving).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:15 AM on January 2 [4 favorites]

I really don't like most commercial scents, but your "basic" high(er)-end candle is Diptyque. Figuier is probably their most popular scent, sort of green and earthy without being too sneezy. Me, I am partial to Feu de Bois. They are pricey but I ration one out for the whole winter.
posted by praemunire at 11:19 AM on January 2 [3 favorites]

Beeswax candles! Faint scent of honey when burning. I have a metal tray with three different sizes of beeswax pillars from Sunbeam Candles. Lovely and cheerful in the winter.
posted by carrioncomfort at 11:31 AM on January 2 [8 favorites]

I never really kept candles around before this winter, either, but I received a couple of candles from P. F. Candle Co. as holiday gifts and now I'm a bit obsessed with them. I was a little scared that they'd be too cloying, but they weren't at all - they tended much more towards woodsy and warm than floral or sweet. The ones that I received are seasonal scents (Spruce and Spiced Pumpkin) that look like they've sold out for the year, but you might like other scents from their "woods" or "spice" collections. It looks like they're carried by a few national retailers, if you'd rather check them out in person than buy them online.
posted by Anita Bath at 11:36 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]

I'll second Paddywax - we have Tolstoy in one of our bathrooms right now, and it's lovely.

Tying in with the literary theme, I really like North Avenue Candles because of her banned books series. We had Clockwork Orange in the bathroom prior to Tolsoy's arrival, and I really need to replace it. (Orange & Clove). I'm pretty sure I sent Catcher in the Rye in one of my Secret Quonsmas packs a few years ago.
posted by librarianamy at 11:37 AM on January 2

Seconding natural beeswax. Yes, they are expensive but the aroma is exquisite.
posted by scruss at 11:38 AM on January 2

I love beeswax candles, and have no interest in other scented candles. I don't have a favorite kind, other than preferring "solid" to the "wrapped honeycomb" variety, and that's probably just because the solid ones burn longer. If there's a difference in beeswax scents, I haven't noticed it.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:51 AM on January 2

I got really into candles a few years ago and honestly I’d recommend going to TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Ross, or Home Goods and browsing their candles. They have a ton of selection, some fairly good quality candles, and rather sophisticated scents; I’m looking at mine rn and they include notes like juniper, myrrh, cedar, and tobacco.

You can also spend the money for extra nice candles, but for me it was nice to figure out what I liked at $5-$7 a pop before spending $$$$ on something you literally burn up. If you do go that route I really love Illume candles!
posted by stellaluna at 12:13 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]

Nth-ing natural actual beeswax candles, not least because my sweetie and a bunch of friends and relations get the sad and the sick from almost all officially "scented" anything but can handle beeswax smoke. And they smell lovely.

Also, bayberry candles.
posted by clew at 12:21 PM on January 2

Natural and/or local food stores that sell beeswax are good, and for the expense I think they burn a fair bit longer than paraffin-based candles.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 12:37 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]

Seconding Diptyque as a good intro to fancy candles. They're now at Nordstrom's with free shipping both ways, though if you're ever in a place where they sell them IRL, it's a lot of fun just sniffing in person and figuring out what you do like. My first Diptyque candle was the Baies, which is rose and berry and pepper and my HOLY SHIT STUFF CAN SMELL LIKE FRUIT WITHOUT SMELLING ALL BATH AND BODY WORKS CIRCA 1997 AND ROSE WITHOUT SMELLING LIKE MY MOTHER'S LINEN CLOSET???

If you want to Get A Little Weird, Byredo has some lovely unusual scents, although for me, the projection when lit (or what candle-makers call the "throw") can be kinda lacking.

If you want to Get Really Weird, DS Durga has one that legit smells (at least to me) like being outside on an old-school playground after a summer rainstorm, and another that smells like leather and gasoline. As you can imagine, these are definitely personal, and hit-or-miss.

And finally, if you want to Get Fancy As Fuck, Cire Trudon is, to me, the best of the best of the best. They wouldn't be my first stop if I'm getting into candles and trying to shop online, especially given the prices, which are heartstopping if you're used to Bed Bath and Bodyworks prices -- but oh wow, their candles are impeccably poured, burn beautifully, have fantastic throw even as single wick-ers, are paper/cotton wicks all the way through so the smoke after you blow them out doesn't smell nasty like the smoke of cheaper candles, and well, they have a candle named after the fictional version of everyone's favorite bisexual 17th century French opera singer/duelist/adventuress.

Pondicherry is maybe my favorite candle of all time, because it's spice and flowers, perfectly balanced, which seems absurd to say with a candle, but there you go. And the burn time justifies every dollar of the price. To me, it's better than even more expensive ones from Floris of London or Penhaligon, who are perfumers first and candlemakers second.
posted by joyceanmachine at 12:37 PM on January 2 [14 favorites]

Whatever scent(s) you decide on, try using a candle warmer instead of lighting the wick. I find the scent is somewhat less overpowering when I use a warmer instead of burning it, with the added benefit of not worrying as much about a forgotten candle burning the house down.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 12:58 PM on January 2

I love Dyptique as others have also noted , Jo Malone, and Cire Trudon. They are verrry spendy but their scents are beautiful and the glasses are also beautiful and can be kept as decorative objects after the candle is finished. Some people even sell empty Diptyque glasses on eBay, they’re that coveted.
posted by like_neon at 2:06 PM on January 2

I love candles. I light one every night while I read as part of winding down the day.

I suggest going to a candle making shop. In STL, here's one. In LA, here's one. In Chicago, here's one. In Ohio, here's one.

The only one I can vouch for is the one in STL. Lots of fun.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 2:08 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]

I was gifted a patchouli flavored candle from my secret pal a couple months ago and I loved it so much that I just placed an order for a couple more candles today! Every candle is hand poured in their basement, can't get much more mom & pop than that. After all, it JustMakesSense
posted by AnneBoleyn at 2:45 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]

Also coming in to recommend natural beeswax! I’m very sensitive to smells, so most scented candles (even the ones made with essential oils) bother me. I buy beeswax candles from a local business called Ames Farm. They offer free shipping over $30, too! The candles smell incredible; subtle and ever so slightly sweet. I really can’t say enough good things about beeswax.
posted by sucre at 3:20 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]

I'm going to recommend some Yankee Candle scents I personally like. This is because Yankee Candles bought on sale are just about the best I can afford that actually has decent scent throw, and that I can find locally, which is important for me because I am intensely disinclined to spend money on a candle without sniffing it first.

(That said, I have enjoyed some soy-based candles I got in subscription boxes, but I can't offhand remember what scent they were or the company that made them, so... no help there.)

I like woody, earthy scents the best. The closest I get to fruity is cinnamon, orange or generally citrus-based scents. I cannot stand most flowery scents in candle form, even if I like the scent of the actual flower.

Some of these are Woodwick, some are normal.
  • Witches' Brew (Halloween range)
  • Cinnamon Stick
  • Star Anise & Orange (festive range, I think, but I've not seen it in the shop this year)
  • Spiced Orange (festive range)
  • Crackling Wood Fire (festive range)
  • Fireside
  • Wood Smoke
  • Evening Bonfire
  • Oudwood
  • "Cozy Cabin" Trilogy (Evening Bonfire / Wood Smoke / Oudwood)
I... have a suspicion the theme in that list is evident.

One addendum: I have bought a small, cheap double boiler (this one) and a bag of 100 wicks (which is likely to last me for a long while), just so I can re-pour candles if I need to. Because I'm not made of money, and if a candle tunnels beyond saving* because I didn't notice it in time, I refuse to just throw away the wax. Same for certain sizes of candles... I just finished burning a medium jar candle today, and there was enough wax left over after the wick burned out that when I poured it into a small jar (of the same brand) it filled 1/3 of it.

* You can wrap foil around a lit tunneled candle (of the jar candle variety) to reflect heat inside and melt the wax to the edge of the container, but if it's tunneled and been left to do so for too long, the wick will be too short and doing that without removing most of the wax first will just drown the wick.
posted by sailoreagle at 3:52 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]

1. Nthing beeswax. The honey smell can’t be beat. Big Dipper Wax Works makes otherwise-scented beeswax aromatherapy candles that smell absolutely wonderful - I don’t like artificial scents and have these all over the place.

2. I recommend the Good and Well Supply Company’s candles, especially the national park ones but the others as well. Long-lasting soy candles with lovely and evocative scents. They’re expensive but I’ll do it once in awhile because I like them.
posted by centrifugal at 8:29 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]

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