How to Find Your Favorite Candle

Don’t get overwhelmed

Soft throw, hard throw, soy wax, coconut wax, beeswax, wood wick, cotton wick, essential oils, synthetic fragrance, paraffin, phthalate-free, small tins, jars, large containers…The list goes on and the combinations are endless but this is nothing to worry over, it just means you have a lot of options to find the perfect candle or a few favorites you can rotate through consistently. Basically, embrace all the options available and take your time focusing on just a few things: scent, style, and production process.

Location

Before you get into finding the best candle or getting excited about all the possibility, it’s important to gauge your own space first. Finding the right candle depends strongly on where you would like to place it. First you have to consider details including: inside, outside, ventilation, room size, and purpose. All this matters because each candle is different and what works for one room will not easily work for the next. While there may be some trial and error involved, mostly you should be able to adhere to a few rules that will help you choose the best scent. Some of the most obvious are strong scent throws would be helpful for covering stale scents and larger candles are better for larger rooms. However, there are many alternatives like the strategic placement of smaller candles across a larger space or a long-lasting candle with a soft throw for a smaller room. 

Scent-sitivity

A common problem for candle-buyers is finding out a candle is not what it advertised or, more specifically, what they expected. Sometimes the cold scent of a candle’s fragrance does not translate well once it is lit. Part of this can be the location but it could also be an issue from the candle-maker which makes it important to spend a little time researching and learning about candle brands you can trust before you make a purchase.

Barring these unique circumstances, one of the most common reasons for this issue is that you are simply not leaving a candle lit for long enough. It is important to make sure that a fully melted pool of wax has formed before really experiencing the full effects. Start lighting your candle with the expectation that the smell is not immediate; timing becomes very important in candle-use. Ensuring that a pool forms is not only important for smelling the full fragrance, it is also important to ensure that a candle burns cleanly.

Often, you will also find that candles can create tunnels or leave a lot of wax unused. This happens for a variety of reasons including: short periods of lighting or poor wick care. Before each use, make sure that you are trimming your wick to remove any excess soot and that the wick is long enough to avoid being turned off by the wax pool; a quarter-inch should be the perfect length. This will help avoid all manner of problems including smoke, uneven burns, and other minor or unseemly issues.

I know it seems like a lot but it’s worth it, I promise. All of this preparation and care is part of the candle process and it’s all fairly important to make sure you’re maximizing each candle, every time you light one. In doing all that, you will find yourself enjoying each candle more as it is set in its most appropriate environment. 

(What you came for)

Finally! After all this, you can focus on the smells you like and what complements your senses best. The main point of reference throughout the aroma industries has been the same for quite some time now, and while it might need an update, it is the current standard. The fragrance wheel is fairly self-explanatory, where the only explanation needed might be for the oriental notes which are commonly spices and similarly sweet smells like vanilla, myrrh, or cinnamon. Basing your choices on this wheel might be the most helpful way to choose a candle, because you can already fill in some expectations as there are basic scents. Still, some of the fragrances can be different than the way they smell in the wild, so please be considerate of your choices and the possibility that they may be different when burned. Every candle is unique but – more importantly – each nose smells a little differently, so trust yourself over all the recommendations you may find online. More than that, there are so many combinations out there that it would be a shame to buy only one candle or type of fragrance. And, if you take the time to reach out to the chandlers you like, I’m sure they would all be more than happy to answer any questions you may have and help lead you to the best candles suited for your senses.

Candle Alchemy

Chandlery is hardly a perfect science. While it can be fairly consistent more often than not, there are still slight variations that happen. Lavender candles made by different chandlers are hardly alike. This comes down to the specific wax used, the amount of fragrance added, and even additions that come from the creative process.

First, the simple change of wax might not seem like much but it affects many of the basic properties of candles and their fragrance. Often, the wax may overpower a scent, which means the amount of fragrance in each candle must be different. Other times, different wax affects burn-time; for example, coconut wax burns for longer than bees or soy wax. Similarly, the scent throw of each wax can be about the same but that also depends on the fragrance added, proper burn time, and even the size of a candle. Overall, coconut wax would have the fastest release but this also depends on the specific mix. Further, some chandlers combine different wax, based on personal preference or professional practice, which adds greater variation to a candle’s output. Basically, there needs to be some trial and error in finding your favorite candle but with enough know-how and research, you should be able to narrow down your choices and find some greater consistency in the candles you bring into your home.

Final Thoughts

Spend some time researching and don’t judge a candle by its scent. There are so many variations out there which makes it important to give each candle a proper chance. Make sure you are caring for and lighting your candle correctly in adequate space: like most things, there are some basic tips that ensure correct use and, if not followed, can lead to poor results. We understand that you want to get “more candle” if you pay more money for it, but that’s not exactly how this works: you’re getting a different experience with each candle. Do your best not to guess at what a candle will be, be willing to experiment and treat candles more as a complement and not the main attraction. Overall, take the time to learn about the candle: start from the scent – or what you like – and make sure to consider relevant factors as you make your final selection.