There’s nothing I love more than a good scentscape. Since actually traveling places has been a moot point in my life for about seven months now, getting a good burn on has really filled that void. And we all know that a fall candle is the absolute peak candle experience. There is just something about this season of scents: sharp, spice-laced cinnamon; frosty, ice-tipped fir; that sexy kick of cedar. Read on for the candles our editors can’t stop lighting on fire—from our budget-friendly faves to splurge-worthy scent masterpieces.
How to Make Your Candles Last Longer
Whether it’s a Hearth & Hand candle you spent $15 on or a $70 Diptyque splurge, candles are literally watching our money burn away. If you want the best experience, you have to take care of them. These tricks will make your candle burn longer and better and will keep you safe. Here are my biggest tips to the best burn:
Always trim your wick.
If you notice your candle has what is often called a “mushroom top” on the wick, little pieces of the burned wick will fall into your candle, making it cloudy and significantly less pretty when it’s sitting on your shelf. It also lowers the flame, which prevents soot from forming on the top of the candle (not a good look) and is just a fire hazard. Also, it lowers the burn time of your candle because it can cause tunneling. Which brings me to …
The first time you burn, let the candle burn evenly.
This might take a while, and every candle is different (I’ve had candles burn evenly after two hours, but some have taken up to five or six). If you start your candle with a giant tunnel (AKA your candle has only burned through the middle and isn’t an even layer of melted wax), it’s difficult to make sure all of that wax burns evenly in the future. When your candle tunnels, you can’t make use of all of that wax, meaning you’re burning your candle down faster which also means you’re burning your literal dollar bills too.
If the candle does start to tunnel, use aluminum foil around the edges to keep the heat circling the candle.
Basically, you’ll wrap a piece of aluminum foil around the top and pinch it in to keep the heat in one space. You can also get a candle warmer which will heat the wax evenly from the bottom. This is a good option if you’re noticing a lot of tunneling, but can take a really long time to burn completely.
Once your candle is burned all the way down, pop out the wax and use the jar for decoration!
I’ve done this by creating a double boiler on my stove to heat up the wax and pour it out, but my favorite way is by popping the candle in the freezer. The wax will freeze and should pop out or you can crack it, and it’ll come out in a couple of pieces. Never put it your candle in the microwave because the wick is usually sitting on a piece of metal, and we all know what happens there. To remove any soot or excess candle wax on the edges, use some dish soap and warm water on a washcloth. It’ll take a second, but it comes right up.
Candle Accessory Kit
This set includes a wick trimmer (you can use scissors, but when the candle burns down too low, this is essential), a snuffer (blows out the flame safely), and a wick dipper (keeps the wick in the right place—ever have a wick dip and dry below the wax? not fun!).
This rose gold wick trimmer from Black-owned candle line Alexandra Winbush is a decor piece itself!
Arc Candle Lighter
Sick of burning yourself on matches and lighters that need new batteries or whatever-the-heck lighters need constantly? This one uses electricity to light the candle and arches into the very bottom of a candle jar without burning your fingers. It’s also rechargeable via USB!
The Best Candles for Fall 2020
Sexy Flannel Vibes
Leather and Suede Candle
scent description: warm woods, rich amber, and spice
It’s warm and rich and just the right amount of spicey. With hints of the distinct smells of leather and suede mixed in with amber, it’s something you wouldn’t mind smelling all day long.
scent description: chestnut, charred-maple, orange-blossom, clove, cinnamon, embers, cedarwood, guaiac
You know what’s instantly sexy? A pure black candle—ultra vampy and chic. This one smells exactly like a black candle called “Charcoal” should. Lots of smooth smoke, like the back corner booth at a speakeasy.
scent description: vanilla softened by smooth, woody accents
It may be called “vanille,” but don’t let the sweet name fool you. The main scent is vanilla, but it’s from black vanilla pods, so it’s a little more like earthy vanilla than like what you use to bake cookies. Add in layers of leathery, smoky, and woodsy accents, and you have a complex, luxurious aroma you’ll want to burn until spring. It’s like lumberjack-cozy with a little extra elegance and sweetness.
Teakwood and Tobacco Candle
scent description: leather, teak, and orange
This is the essential tobacco scent—it might even be one of the closest dupes you’ll find to some of Tom Ford’s most famous scents. It smells exactly like drinking mulled wine in a cottage while someone you would really like to see naked smokes a cigar next to you. It’s not too strong either, so it’s the perfect candle for a bathroom or small space like your desk.
scent description: cardamom, geranium, tobacco flower, pistachio, patchouli fraction, beeswax and tonka bean
If the name didn’t tell you already, this candle is sexy. It’s a solid mix of warm, tobacco-y and spicy scents, but it also has a lot of sweetness from the geranium and pistachio. This scent truly fills the room, so I would keep it somewhere like a living room or maybe a bedroom.
scent description: sandalwood, golden amber, and warm musk
This candle has everything you could ever want. The throw is fantastic (meaning the scent travels so you can smell it all throughout the room), it never tunnels, and the wick doesn’t get a mushroom top and cloud the wax, making it totally worth the somewhat-higher price tag. The sandalwood notes are really strong in this, but the golden amber makes it a little lighter. Think Northern California vibes.
Cabin in the Woods
scent description: sage, cedarwood, eucalyptus, and patchouli
This Amazon find is pure delicious; let it transport you to a beautiful Hallmark-style log cabin getaway, complete with crackling fire and sexy innkeeper. It’s amber-y with a tiny hint of sweetness that keeps it from going too musky.
Marshmallow Fireside Candle
scent description: smoldering woods, fire- roasted vanilla, crystallized amber with essential oils
This candle is literally what you’d imagine sitting around a campfire and roasting marshmallows would smell like; it’s sweet, but the warm, fire smell keeps it from being too overwhelming. It’s the perfect hybrid between a sweet smell and a quintessential winter firewood smell.
Vanilla Spice Candle
scent description: soft vanilla and cinnamon
This is the perfect twist on a classic vanilla scent to tweak it just the right amount for fall and winter. It has distinct notes of vanilla, but with warm, spicy scents of fall mixed in.
scent description: apples, red berries, oranges, cinnamon, cloves, nectar, and white musk
Who knew the scent of straight up leaves would be so compelling? This smells exactly like stepping out your door to a perfect fall day. There’s the slightest chill in the air and golden leaves crunch under your boots. It’s not too intense of a scent, so it’s perfect for burning for hours at a time (no scent headaches).
Baltic Amber Candle
scent description: baltic amber, amber resin, sandalwood, and vanilla orchid
With notes of amber resin, sandalwood, and vanilla orchid, the Baltic Amber candle is the perfect mix of earthy and woodsy scents, while still being subtly sweet. It will remind you of cozying up by the fire and staying warm under piles of cozy knit blankets on a cold, crisp autumn day.
Portable Fireplace Candle
scent description: dwarf pine wood, atlas cedar, smoke, oak ash, cedar, birch, birch tar, copaiba resin
This candle is *THE* cabin in the woods. It is literally the exact scent that gets all over your clothes after a bonfire and you spend hours trying to get it out, but that’s what makes it so good. It instantly transports you to a camping trip or post-tailgate bonfires. It’s only a one-wick, but it is strong as hell, so keep it to a bigger area and don’t let it burn too long (this makes the price worth it since it’ll last forever).
scent description: sweet, syrupy, and spicy fig fruit and leaf aromas
We’re not exactly sure what a fig smells like, but we do know that this candle has become a fall staple. It smells woodsy and a little bit like the glory of the aftermath of a chilly bonfire on a fall night.
Egyptian Amber Candle
scent description: fresh greens, warm spice, earthy patchouli, blooming lily, sandalwood, musk, warm amber, and vanilla
If you prefer to embrace the season in a more subtle way, this scent is for you. Think of it like southern California in the fall. Filled with earthy tones and just a hint of amber and musk, this candle is a year-round burn.
scent description: crisp red apple, golden nectar, warm clove spice with essential oils
Is there fall without this candle? With scents of apple and clove spice, this is the fall scent of fall scents, without ever being too much.
Apple Cinnamon Candle
scent description: crisp McIntosh apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg
Sometimes you just need a Glade candle. Affordable and ultra scented, there’s no guilt in burning a classic Apple Cinnamon from Glade. You’ll feel like you’re living inside a red delicious and it’s not a bad place to be.
Apple Cider Candle
scent description: natural cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, orange, and cedarwood essential oils
This candle will instantly transport you to apple picking in New England while the leaves are changing. Guests will enter your apartment searching for fresh cider donuts. The underlying cedarwood helps elevate the scent and keep it from smelling too sweet.
Autumn Seasonal Candle
scent description: apple, vanilla, cinnamon, spice
We’re not sure how they did it, but Kai & Co managed to bottle the exact moment of stepping outside on the first crisp fall day. The enchanting scent has notes of apple, smoke without being overpowering. The scent is truly enchanting and perfect for burning all season long.
Matcha Business Candle
scent description: hazelnut coffee, almond milk, honey, lavender, and vanilla
We know many people hate sweet scents, but they’re so lovely to use in your kitchen to make it smell like you’re always baking something delicious. This doesn’t necessarily smell like matcha, so if that was your worry, fear not. Instead, it leans heavily toward hazelnut coffee, vanilla, and a little bit of honey. Burn this in the morning when you’re brewing coffee, and it’ll be the perfect morning pick-me-up. Plus, this jar is huge, so it’ll last forever.
scent description: vetiver, neroli, white musk, and jasmine
A palette cleanser from rich, smokey, musky fall scents, Pharoah is a light and airy, burn-all-day candle. It smells like the gentle blending from summer into fall—bright, sweet florals all tempered with the tiniest bit of moodiness.
Cedar Stack Candle
scent description: cedar, labdanum, juniper berry, sawdust, and white musk
This is one of the most sophisticated candles we’ve ever smelled. It’s sweet and musky at the same time. You really smell the cedar and wood, but the juniper berry makes this an all-year-round favorite. It’s a really layered scent that just smells expensive.
Toasted Pumpkin Candle
scent description: toasted pumpkin seeds, cardamom, nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon notes
Sometimes you just want to stick your face in a PSL and breathe deep. This candle is exactly that with a hint of toasted marshmallow, but the clove and nutmeg add depth that keep it from being too sweet.
Cashmere Vanilla Candle
scent description: warm vanilla, woody cashmere, sweet amber, and notes of fruity citrus
The Cashmere Vanilla Candle is not just sweet; it’s a sexy and warm vanilla, elevated by woody cashmere and sweet amber with just a hint of fruit like pear and peach blossom. It will be your go-to candle if you love warm vanilla, but prefer a sexier, more complex scent profile that’s still subtle enough to light all day, every day.
Heirlum Pumpkin Candle
scent description: heirloom pumpkin, creamy caramel, warm vanilla bean, and spicy cinnamon
This pumpkin candle is quite strong. The small candle burned for a while and went through the entire home. If you want PSL burned into your taste buds and nostrils forever, this one is essential.
This is one of the most underrated candles at Bath and Body Works. It’s the perfect blend of pumpkin and apple, the season’s two reigning champs when it comes to scents. It’s great for fall, but it also has a little cheeriness that can be burned through the holidays too.
Pumpkin Chai Candle
scent description: wild pumpkin, spicy masala chai, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon
If fall had an influencer-approved candle, it would be this one. The smell is classically intoxicating and the pumpkin notes are comforting rather overwhelming. The spice notes elevate this traditional scent and make it a splurge you’ll be happy with every time you strike a match.
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