Wednesday, 10 January 2018

confessions of a candle addict


You'll have realised by now that I'm somewhat obsessed with scented candles (there are upwards of twenty in my living room right now - I lost count after that...) Over the years of obsessive candle buying, I've learned a few things about which brands are worth investing in, and how to properly care for your candles. Because if you're going to spend £45-50 on something that you will literally burn away, you want to make sure that you're going to get your money's worth...


My number one candle brand is somewhat predictable - Diptyque - but this is because its reputation is well-earned. Two main reasons I love them: 1) the packaging - I will never not adore opening a box and seeing that iconic black and white design; 2) the depth and uniqueness of the scents. Arguably some Diptyque candles have better throw than others (for the uninitiated, throw refers to the pervasiveness of the scent in a room), but most are very well scented and there is a staggering array of deeply sophisticated, often unusual fragrances. My advice is don't limit yourself to the obvious Baies, Figuier or Roses, but rather try something a little less ubiquitous (I've actually really gone off the scent Baies in recent months as I find it too sickly, and Figuier was never my favourite; I still love Roses though). My current favourite Diptyque scents include Opopanax (a sweet, oriental scent reminiscent of a Moroccan market), Feu de Bois (wood smoke), Santal (like a deep, sophisticated perfume) and Ambre (again, dark and spicy, one for cosy wintry evenings). You can tell I like woodier scents; I'm not that keen on florals so I give most of these a miss, but I make an exception for the aforementioned Roses, plus Feuille de Lavande (the best lavender scent you'll find) and Choisya (orange blossom).

In at number two is Jo Malone: again, classic for a reason. I don't love the look of the candles as much as Diptyque, but they do make better gifts as they come in beautiful gift boxes with their own chic black matches. I also do find that they tunnel a lot less easily than Diptyque candles (see the care section below for more on this), so Jo Malone is a better "starter" brand if you're not such a candle pro. The scents are perhaps less unusual than Diptyque and therefore probably more universally appealing: most of them are reminiscent of very sophisticated perfumes, which can never be a bad thing. My ultimate favourite is Pine & Eucalyptus, which I buy every Christmas, but I also absolutely love Pomegranate Noir. Other recent favourites include English Oak & Redcurrant (I wasn't too excited from the name, but it's the most gorgeous elegant scent), and Wood Sage & Sea Salt, which has a delicious masculine quality.

Byredo comes third for me. Huge bonus points for the effortlessly chic monochrome packaging and sumptuous black wax, but the scents are more hit and miss for me than JM & Diptyque. While I love Safran, I find it incredibly overpowering, and therefore can't burn it for long (it reminds me of a rich Tom Ford perfume). Bibliothèque is similarly deep and not for the fainthearted, while on the other end of the spectrum I felt that Cotton Poplin was too subtle. I do love Burning Rose though (a classic rose with a hint more depth than Diptyque's), and I really like Bohemia as well.

Tom Dixon is the other brand I'll indulge in from time to time, but only the Eclectic collection as I'm not keen on the packaging of the other ranges. London is my favourite scent, but I like Royalty for summer, too.

You're probably thinking that these are all expensive brands... Yes, sorry, but you get what you pay for with candles. Buying cheap ones is honestly a false economy. Trust me, you're far better to splash out and get a more sophisticated scent with better throw and which is far less likely to tunnel (see below).



Tunnelling is the term for when a candle burns down only in the centre, leaving much of the wax on the sides of the jars. With many cheap candles, this is just an inevitability. But buying an expensive brand doesn't mean it won't tunnel if you're not careful. The number one way to avoid tunnelling is to burn the candle for as long as possible. Some candles say not to burn for more than 4 hours, but I think this is just a safety precaution: obviously never leave your candle unattended, but I recommend burning for at least 4 hours if you have the standard 190g sized votive (if you have less time, burn a travel-sized candle instead). The key is to burn it until the entire surface is liquid. If you blow it out before then, you will get tunnelling. However, if you do notice this starting to happen, the next time the candle is lit, or just after you've blown it out, gently push down the unmelted wax on the tunnelled edge down into the liquid wax. Be careful not to push so much that you obscure the wick with wax. This is known as "hugging" the candle. I find I have to do this a lot with Diptyque candles, as some will stubbornly tunnel even if you burn for hours. However, hugging the wax down always sorts it out.

If you find that you're getting soot residues on the glass, your wick is too long. Always trim the wick to 5mm before lighting a candle, and if you notice black smoke, extinguish the candle and trim the wick before re-lighting. The soot residues are easy to remove: simply dab a little washing up liquid onto some kitchen paper and wipe it off (obviously when the candle is unlit!)


I definitely recommend a candle stand to protect your surfaces (or at least use a coaster); I have Diptyque's and also a marble White Company one (which is technically a lid but doubles up as a stand). A wick trimmer is essential - it may seem extravagant but you just can't get the same angle using scissors. I love this Diptyque lantern (or "photophore"), too, for gatherings when you may not always have your eye on the naked flame (and because it looks nice).



  1. I'm such a candle addict too! A scented candle shop called Osmology opened up near my work last year and I can spend hours in there - it's ridiculous!

    1. Thanks for your comment! Ah that sounds dangerous! I genuinely spend all my money on candles from Space NK 🙈🙈🙈


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