I own an ungodly amount of candles, but I’m always tempted to buy more. A burning candle changes the atmosphere of a room. It’s calming, cozy, and just plain homey. And that makes sense. It was only in the last 100 years or so that fire has been removed from our homes. For thousands of years, fire was the cornerstone of a house–from cooking hearth fires to candles for light to the roaring fireplaces that kept winter at bay and our ancestors alive. We still install natural gas and electric woodstoves with fake logs in our homes because of how they make us feel. Fire is essential. It’s wild and a symbol of civilization all at the same time. It’s our history and in our blood. Fire turns four walls and a roof into a home.
We haven’t even talked about the scent yet. If the flickering of a flame of a candle changes the atmosphere, the scent changes the emotion of the room. Smell is the sense most deeply tied to our feelings and memories. When you give something a sniff, information is translated by your olfactory bulb–an organ that starts in your nose and runs along the underside of your brain. There it has direct contact with the region of your brain that rules your emotions and stores your memories. Smell is the only one of our senses that shares contact with the emotion center of our brain.
That’s why you can smell something–the sea, wet leaves, cut grass–and be instantly transported back to an associated memory. Smells directly effect how we feel. Even before we could MRI our brains to see smells light up our amygdala, humans have known the power of scent. Why else would people have dedicated their lives to perfumery, mastering the art of capturing scents and distilling them into a form we can save and hold and wear.
The scented candle market has been taking off, largely in part because of designer candle brands that began offering unique, artisan candles that offer a distinctive experience. So what makes a luxury candle? The short answer is quality. Often these luxury candles are made by hand in short limited, runs of scent collections. As a general rule, high end candles burn longer, cleaner, and contain a higher percentage of fragrance than the candles you’d buy from a shop in the mall. Designer fragrances are balanced, pure, and intricate–these usually aren’t your standard vanilla candles you can pick up anywhere. Expert perfumers build complex aromas that fill your home and soothe your mind.
If you have kids or certain pets, having an open flame in your home may not be as safe for you. Another way to add designer scents to your space is with home fragrances. See read my guide to the best home fragrance products. You can also make use of soaps with designer scents. Read my article on the best luxury hand washes to pamper your hands and nose at the same time.
Candles have always been a go-to gift for any holiday or celebration and for good reason. You are giving an experience that is both intimate with scent and emotion, but also safe enough to be a gift for anyone of any level of acquaintance.
If you think there can’t be much of a difference between $1 votives and luxury candles, think about the difference between an off-brand, cheap as they get laptop and your Mac. Think about fast food versus five star dining. Craftsmanship matters.
Now let’s go on a scent tour of the best luxury candles.
1. Lafco New York House & Home Candle in Wine Room
The House & Home Collection is designed with a room of the house in mind for each scent. The designers built the fragrances around how you want to feel when you’re in that room. These are huge 16 ounce candles with a burn time of a whopping 90 hours thanks to the soy blend wax formula. Each gradient-colored glass vessel is hand-blown and designed to complement the atmosphere of the intended room.
Wine Room has a decadent, luxurious smell of black pomegranate, black apple, and Bordeaux, with notes of jasmine and a base of aged oakwood and vetiver. This blend is sure to create an atmosphere of opulence while you pop the cork on a bottle of wine. Each candle is packaged in a gift-ready white box with black ribbon. LAFCO has 39 scents in the House & Home Collection which is way more rooms than my home, but they have expanded to cover almost any dwelling space you can think of. Some of my other favorite scents are Kitchen (mandarin orange, cilantro, and avocado) and Cottage House (waterlilly, Baltic amber, vanilla bourbon, and cotton musk.)
- Extremely long burn time
- 39 scents to choose from
- Each fragrance is tailored to a room in the house
- Hand-blown glass vessel
- Wax is a soy blend
2. Antica Farmacista Round Candle in Prosecco
Antica Farmacista is a Seattle-based company creating luxury scents for both the body and home. This candle has a 60 hour burn time and is made of a soy and paraffin blend wax for a clean and even burn. The glass jar has Antica Farmacista’s signature leaf pattern around the rim and is elevated by a thick glass base giving the candle an elegant, light look to it. Each candle arrives in a gift box of hick, quality cardboard and with a square box of Antica Farmacista matches.
This candle is in their Prosecco scent, inspired by the crisp effervescence of Champagne. The base of the scent is apricot, passionfruit, and black current, with lighter notes of satsuma orange. I have this fragrance in their body butter and I’m absolutely addicted to the scent. It’s bright, refreshing, and never cloying. I’m currently burning their Silver Cedar candle (which has unfortunately sold out) but I can tell you that their candles burn clean and the scent can really fill a room. I did recent the body butter and candle from Antica Farmacista for testing but made it very clear that did not guarantee a positive review or even a review at all.
Antia Farmacista has 20 other scents to choose from in their candle collection including Sandalwood Amber (lavender, amber, and leather) and Holiday (evergreen, toasted chestnuts, and caramelize sugar.)
- Crisp, bubbly scent
- 60 hour burn time
- Stunning glass vessel
- Many scents to choose from
- Some people are allergic to paraffin wax
3. Diptyque Votive Candle Trio Gift Set
Diptyque has been known as one of the top names in luxury candles since they came on the scene. Their fragrances are unique, smell luxuriously high end, are beloved by celebrities, and they last. Too many candles lose their scent if you don’t burn them up within the first month of owning them, but these stay potent for a long time. This gift set includes three votive size candles and is a perfect introduction to luxury candles and to the Diptyque brand. Diptyque votives generally go for $35 so you are getting these for less than full price when you buy in a set. This set comes with their signature and most popular fragrance Baise (black current leaves and rose) as well as Figuier (fig leaves and fig wood) and Rose (classic rose). Each candle has a burning time of around 30 hours and the set comes beautifully packaged in a white Diptyque box.
- Gift box of three candles
- 30 hour burn time on each candle
- Great intro to Diptyque
- Includes their bestselling Baise
- Can’t choose your own three fragrances
4. Ovando’s Chantilly Fragrance Candle
Sandra de Ovando is one of the top luxury floral arrangement designers with regular clients like Hermes, The Four Seasons, and the MoMA. You just know her studio smells amazing. Their candle collection allows Ovando to compose lasting scents at the same caliber and naturalness of her arrangements. Ovando candles have a burn time of 55 hours and arrive in a minimalist frosted glass holder and packaged in a sturdy box ready for gifting. These candles are assertive without being overbearing.
Part of Ovando’s “Souvenirs de Paris” Collection, this candle scent evokes experience of indulging in whipped Chantilly creme in a Parisian cafe. Chantilly is a balance of violet and sweet tonka bean with notes of papyrus leaf and pink grapefruit. Ovando Fragrance Collection Candles offer several other scents including Dia de Campo (fig, bamboo, and cedar) and Pisa (black amber, cocao, and juniper berries.)
- Many choices of scent
- Gift-ready box
- Balanced, natural fragrance
- Long, even burn time
- Scent is not very subtle
5. Mexican Cacao Mystique From Be The Light New York by Petra Nemcova Fragrance Candles
These candles by Petra Nemcova are a truly unique experience. Each candle comes in a stunning glass jar with a map of the country that inspired the scent. These maps are hand-carved into the glass by artisans in each featured country, a process that can take over four days per jar. No two jars will be the same, making yours unique in the world. Once the maps are completed, the jars return to America where the candles are hand-poured with soy wax scented with fragrances capturing the spirit of those countries that Nemcova experienced during her world travels. This candle will burn for around 60 hours.
Mexican Cacao Mystique was inspired by the ancient and sacred Mayan cacoa ceremonies of Mexico. Scented with rose, cacoa, pink peppercorn, nutmeg, clove bud, and orange, Petra Nemcova says this candle will make you want to, “eat the air.” Each Be The Light candle comes in a sturdy box with a matchbox and guide book about the collection. This hefty candle, weighing over three pounds in the packaging, would make a memorable housewarming or host gift.
If sweet scents aren’t your jam, there is a world of other country-inspired scents and maps including American Bluebell Bliss (cedarwood, jasmine, and lemon) and Spanish Saffron Heat (ginger, frankincense, and patchouli.)
- Hand-carved map on thick glass jar
- Scents inspired by different countries
- Several fragrances to choose from
- 100 percent soy wax
- 60 hour burn time
- Larger than most
6. Archipelago Havana Pillar Candle
The Havana Pillar Candle by Archipelago Botanicals is inspired by the experience of visiting Cuba. Its woody citrus scent and gentle florals give this a bohemian flare of outdoor cafes and swaying palms. It has a base of bergamot, Cuban tobacco flower, tobacco leaf, with notes of wild ylang-ylang at the edges. This is a perfect gender neutral scent and has a 90 hour burn life for long-lasting fragrance.
- More masculine lines
- Unique scent
- Long lasting
- Doesn’t come in its own jar
7. Ila-Spa Fragrant Candle for Higher Energy in Orange Blossom
We’ve had several candles designed to relax you and create a calm and serene atmosphere, but here’s one that’s meant to energize you. The Higher Energy in Orange Blossom candle from Ila-Spa harnesses the power of scent to enliven your brain, wake up your senses, and get you motivated. This would be a great candle to have in your office, kitchen, patio, or workout room. Ila-Spa candles are 100 percent natural. The full ingredient list is two types of orange essential oils, beeswax, eco-soya wax, and jojoba oil. The fragrance isn’t as complex as the other candles, but is a true and refreshing spring breeze.
- Energizing scent
- All natural
- 50 hour burn time
- Scent may be too one note for some
8. Aromaflage Wild Candle
If you have a patio, deck, or you go camping (or glamping) this candle is a must. This candle doubles as an insect repellent without that overwhelming citronella smell you thought you had to deal with. Aromaflage originally developed a perfume that repelled bugs while still smelling distinctly like a perfume and not like a repellent. Now they’ve put that same fragrance into candles so we can get rid of those citronella sticks and chemical filled repellents. Aromaflage candles are all natural. They don’t contain DEET, parabens, or harsh chemicals. Insects are repelled by the carefully chosen essential oils that also build to a subtle fragrance.
These candles are made of all natural soy wax and have a 40 hour burn time, which is pretty great for a smaller candle. Wild comes in a luxe looking black box and the candle is in a reusable wine tumbler. The scent is woodsy with cardamom, cedarwood, and spruce. If pictures of scorpions aren’t your thing, the original Aromaflage scent candle (orange, vanilla, and cedarwood) has a dragonfly on it instead.
- Rated five out of five stars by users on Amazon
- Repels bugs
- All natural
- Gift-ready box
- In reusable wine glass
- You need to burn it outside 10 to 15 minutes before it takes effect
9. Cire Trudon Candle in Positano by Giambattista Valli
Inspired by the sights and smells of Positano, Italy, this limited edition candle is the product of Cire Trudon and designer Giambattista Valli for a truly luxe experience. This is a natural wax candle made with a blend of rice, soy, and coconut waxes. The sleek white on white candle in its white gift box adds a high-end feel to it, making this a perfect gift choice. The scent has a foundation of tuberose, Peruvian balsam, and lily with heart notes of magnolia and orange blossom. Bright notes of bergamot, gardenia, and neroli (bitter orange) round out this delicate fragrance. It has a burn time of around 60 hours so you’ll have plenty of hours to enjoy.
- Limited edition scent
- Eco-friendly natural waxes
- Designer fragrance
- Not everyone is isn’t white on white
10. Archipelego Botanicals Birch Soy Candle
Archipelego Botanicals candles are infused with light and clean fragrances and use clean burning soy so the candles burn evenly for 90 hours. These candles are hand-poured and come in a reusable frosted glass vessel and matte black gift box. The Birch scent is clean and bright with notes of balsam sap, amber, moss, and clementine. This is another refreshing candle that would go great in a kitchen or patio. If that isn’t to your taste, Archipelego Botanicals has many candles to choose from including Currant (grapefruit, currant, and crushed palm leaves) and Arugula (cactus flowers, mandarin zest, and vetiver.)
- 90 hour burn time
- Bright and cheerful
- Many scents to choose from
- It’s a soy blend, but I don’t know what the other wax is
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