We understand why you’d be trigger-shy when it comes to purchasing candles for your home — perhaps you have bad memories of Mom burning her candy-apple scented monstrosity all through the holidays, or maybe you remember afternoons spent sniff testing at the mall with a significant other.
Well, it’s time to forget everything you thought you knew about candles, for gone are the days where they’re dominated by floral or sickly sweet scents. Nowadays, the better candles out there tend to lean gender-neutral, and there’s no shortage of what would traditionally be known as manly scents: whiskey, tobacco, leather, etc. There are even cannabis-scented candles now (don’t knock ‘em until you try ‘em).
“Just like there’s science to colors affecting your mood, the same can be said for scents,” says P.F. Candle Co. founders Kristen Pumphrey and Thomas Neuberger. “Fragrance is an overlooked, atmospheric mood booster. During the holidays when we want to create a warm and cozy environment, I gravitate towards woodsy scents with a strong base of Sandalwood or Cedar. I especially like pairing our Teakwood & Tobacco with a seasonal pop, like Spruce. If we have pressing deadlines, bright and invigorating fragrances get us through, so we’d seek out citrus or mint scents.”
“If you have guests coming over, it’s a high-impact application of fragrance to trick everyone into thinking your home always smells that good.”
So, with all that being said, check out our list of the top-rated candles for a home that will really always smell that good.
PF Candle Co. Sunset
Not just good for the sniffer, this candle is a part of P.F.’s Dusk collection, all of which are poured into custom-printed tins donning minimalist, earth-toned illustrations and will look great on your nightstand or coffee table. Sunset is inspired by the time of day where the sky has just sunk below the horizon, with notes of clary sage, iris and palo santo.
Sydney Hale Co. Bourbon + Brown Sugar
Speaking of versatility, this bourbon-inspired candle is handcrafted in a vessel that doubles as your next whiskey tumblr once the wax burns down. The scent is warm but not cloying, an ode to double-oaked bourbon and salted brown sugar caramel. Another bonus? Sydney Hale Co. donates 10 percent of their profits to organizations supporting animal rescue.
Malin + Goetz Leather
This candle manages to smell both comforting and rugged, just like fine leather, thanks to notes of muted florals and rustic wood notes. Its base notes of sandalwood, cedarwood, cashmere musk, amber and incense make it the perfect choice for setting the mood in a living room or den. A minimalist design and dark brown wax means that it’ll look good virtually everywhere.
Jonathan Adler Hashish
This is the one that you’re going to want to display prominently, with a warm brown wax that sits in a white porcelain vessel decorated with weed leaves. Honestly, we’d even keep the box it comes in as a decoration. Once you’re done with the candle, it makes the perfect place to stash your, uh, coins. Its mix of notes including black currant, green apple, wormwood, patchouli and moss is certainly heady, so you don’t need to burn it for long to fill the room with scent.
Good + Well Supply Co. Zion National Park Candle
Do you have a favorite National Park? Of course you do. Bring back memories that will smell way better than your tent did while camping with this line by Good + Well Supply Co, each poured by hand into durable metal containers that can be taken anywhere. We chose Zion, which is scented with desert lavender, sage, and dried herbs — the perfect scent to relax with after a long day.
Le Labo Santal 26 Vintage Candle
Also a contender for most aesthetically pleasing is this “vintage” looking candle by Le Labo. The dark tin-looking vessel it comes in is roughed up in the best way, and it’s hand filled with Santal 26 — what they call an “aristocratic scent” that’s at once gentle and leathery while also being a bit seductive and smoky.
Paddywax Maplewood + Moss Candle
The textured, light green ceramic vessel of Paddywax’s Maplewood + Moss will appeal to both you and your partner, an instant win in our book. We also love its unique wooden wick that crackles when you burn it, and the fact that a portion of the candle’s sale goes to the National Parks Foundation. The warm but light notes of tobacco flower, vanilla, smoked wood and amber don’t hurt either.
Aden Candle Barrel-Aged Manhattan
Aden prides themselves in making super high quality candles out of coconut and apricot wax, all natural essential oils and high quality fragrances. That’s all a fancy way of saying that you won’t be polluting your lungs or the planet with their candles, and it also means that their candles have an extremely long 60-hour burn time. This one is crafted with notes of oak, vetiver, clove and sandalwood to remind you of a well-crafted Manhattan “that’s oak-finished, garnished with a cherry, and, like Jeff Goldblum, only gets better with time.”
Ethics Supply co. Moonlight Surnada
Inspired by the redwood and cypress trees of arguably the most magical part of the California coastline, Big Sur, this scent by Ethics Supply Co. is a rich mix of native bay laurel, lemon verbena, Douglas Fir & Jeffery Pine. It’s a scent that smells extremely nostalgic in the best kind of way.