Scents and Sensibility - Choosing The Perfect Candle

Feb 08 2017 0 Comments Tags: blog, fall, gifts, home decor, ideas, ocstyle, orange county


    Now that the warm summer evenings are behind us and crisp fall nights lay ahead, we tend to find ourselves spending more time indoors, and while we may miss the intoxicating fragrances that those sweet summer blooms offered, we can create a new nighttime "wa" with the help of just a little hot wax (and no, we don't mean your bikini line).


    What is it about candlelight that immediately makes a room feel just a bit cozier, and definitely a lot more romantic? There is a reason why so many Instagram filters make you look lit by candlelight. The soft lighting makes everyone and everything it touches appear just a bit softer--and lets face it, sometimes, after a full day when are eyes are starting to look a little sunken in and our skin a little more sallow, we need something to make ourselves and our background look a little more inviting. When you think about it, there really aren't that many utilitarian mainstays of long ago that we still choose to use, like we do candles.  Let's face it, who wants to trade indoor plumbing and air conditioning for outhouses and ice blocks?  Candles, though, now that's a different ball of wax (pun intended) all together.  

    Candles have held an invaluable place in world history--can you imagine Shakespeare writing Hamlet by the light of a lamp from Target, or Beethoven playing his 5th Symphony under one of those cheesey accountant lights instead of a candelabra sitting atop his piano?  Not only were candles necessary, they were present at pretty much any and all important events that shaped our world. So when did such a physical necessity become such a desirable addition to our culture?  Were our forebears' candle lit, pre-electricity evenings at home always romantic, or just cold and smokey?  I like to think that the candlelight softened the challenging living conditions just a bit--let's hope so, any way.

   If you think about it, candles haven't changed too much over the past 5000 years--the basic design is about the same--we've still got our wax and our wicks. Fortunately, there have been a few welcomed modifications over time.  The foul smelling tallow (aka animal fat) candles of a century ago have been replaced with pleasantly scented, clean burning candles, such as the soy wax ones we carry from Trapp--a staff favorite, for sure.  Candles made with palm wax and bees' wax are also great options, so take a look at the product ingredients to see what your burning.

    In addition to choosing the right type of wax, what else should we consider when shopping for a candle? The big question would have to be scented or unscented.  Now, there is nothing wrong with going for unscented, but with so many fantastic scented candle options out there, I would encourage a little "nosing" around.  The specific fragrance that a good scented candle has is typically formulated by extracting essential oils from organic materials, and blending one or more of those concentrated oils to create a unique scent (chemistry 101).  Some of these concoctions can be really exotic.   For instance, Voluspa (another staff fave) offers up coconut wax candles with scents including French Cade Lavender, and Yashioka Gardenia, just to name a couple.  Whether you favor something sultry and musky, or light and floral, there's a scent for it.  Gosh, how many of us burn candles during the holidays that make our homes smell like we've been baking cookies all day, when the truth is we've simply lit a sugary scented candle and re-plated a few dozen store boughts. 

    I would be remiss if I didn't include a couple of tips that will make your new candle burn brighter and last longer.  First and foremost, make sure to always trim the wick to about 1/4" before you burn your candle.  It's also a good idea to burn your candle at least an hour for every inch of the candle's diameter, and to cease burning when you get down to about a half an inch of solid wax.  Just this little bit of maintenance will help maximize your candle's burn life, and keep your home safe and smelling great. 

    We may not need candles to compose a manifesto by, but can you imagine a birthday cake without them?  How would we ever make all those wishes?









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