How To Choose The Perfect Candle Every Time
In a world where there are so many candles to choose from, it’s no wonder that candle lovers have favorites they stick to.
Sometimes so many choices can be completely overwhelming, not to mention, when you find something great, you want to hold on to it because it works for you, right?
I can completely relate to that. Before I started in the candle making business, I was a huge candle buyer who, unfortunately, didn’t know much about candles outside of lighting the wick.
I’d get disappointed by candles that didn’t meet my expectations after I brought them home, and I even (honestly) may have place a (mental) negative strike against certain candle companies for my experience with their particular candle.
In all of my experience as a candle buyer and now as a candle maker, there is one important thing that I’ve learned.
You actually have to know what you want before you buy a candle.
Yes, when buying a candle, the first question to ask yourself is what you want from it.
I’m not trying to make buying candles into some difficult thing here, but knowing more about what you want is going to give you the best results from your candle purchase, thus, saving you time and money.
The fact is, if you know what you want and what you’re going to use it for, that pretty much eliminates a number of the vast choices you have to choose from. You’ll have better options and cut the nonsense, if you know what I mean.
Hey, how many people have made a purchase of something only to have it fail expectations? Too many, right?
So, does it surprise you that buying candles isn't any different?
Well, think about it this way, if you buy a new HD television and it doesn’t put out HDX quality, it’s because the television wasn’t built to give HDX quality in the first place.
Likewise, if you don’t know what you need your candle to do, and you’re out to purchase any old candle just because it smells good or you simply want one, it’s like walking into an unfamiliar dark room and feeling your way through it.
Anything could happen.
So, if you want the best outcome from the candles you buy, you have to know a little something about what you want from your candle, and then you purchase something that matches your needs.
The fact is that candles are not created to do the same things in the same exact way. Sure they’re supposed to give you luminary delight, but if you want your candle to burn longer, have an excellent scent throw while it burns, or even just sit there and look gorgeous, there are simple things you’ll need to know before you make your purchase. Knowing a few very simple things will help you to buy just the right candle that gives you the closest results to what you’re looking for.
So, how do you figure out which candle is best for you?
Answers to these questions will help you to better determine what you should look for in a candle.
- What do you need the candle to do?
- With what is the candle made?
- What appeal factor are you seeking?
Okay, so now that you know the questions. Let’s get to the answers. Just one thing before I start.
Disclaimer: This information is only to assist you with making better candle choices for whatever your needs are. It doesn’t consider all individual reasons for and limitations of purchasing candles. Always refer to the rules and regulations of the building, that you will use your candles in, prior to making a decision on the best candle to purchase.
Now, that that’s over, onto it!
#1. What do you need the candle to do?
This question will be a huge eliminator.
Are you using your candle for home?
Will the candle be a part of a centerpiece?
Is it going to be held by hand in a ceremony?
Will you need to set the candle(s) out for decoration?
Believe it or not, when you answer these questions, you’ll knock out a multitude of options that make it a lot easier to choose the right candle(s) for your needs.
In the Workplace
If you need the candle for your place of employment, you’ll likely need something that has no flame. Many employers don’t allow use of open flames, but that’s not exactly a limitation. Today there are so many flameless options that open flames aren’t even necessary. Here are a few that I’ve seen my own customers use in their work environment:
- Oil warmers
- LED flameless scented candles
- Wax melts in electric warmers
- Jar warmers
Illuminated centerpieces can be positively stunning, particularly during the holiday seasons. The type of candles you’ll need will depend heavily on the look you’re trying to achieve.
If you’re using a centerpiece for a dinner, for example, you may want to skip the scented candles for your centerpiece. Scented candles may clash, considerably, with the savory aroma of your meal.
On the other hand, you should also consider height. Taller candles will hide the faces of your guests around the dinner table, but may be a perfect showpiece for a side table.
Ceremonial candles are generally basic candles.
While I’ve seen pillar and taper candles used and held in these types of ceremonies, I don’t particularly recommend holding a pillar candle during any lengthy amount of time.
It’s not safe.
In a ceremony, the best candle to use is a properly contained candle that has a wick at least 1” from the top of the container.
This will keep your hands protected during the ceremony.
Warning, however, candle jars can get pretty warm since they do contain an open flame and hot wax. I’m not in favor of holding any candles for extended periods. Also, as a side note never…ever…allow your candle to burn longer than four hours.
Candles are great options for decoration. If you decide to use them for decorative purposes, you’ll need to consider the looks more than the burn capabilities, but I’ll get more into these types of candles in my response to question three.
#2. With What Is the Candle Made?
The ingredients and mechanics of a candle are very important because they’re what keep the fire going in your candle.
Think of it this way. When you fuel your car, you have grade options. It might be Regular, Plus, or Super.
Sure, you could always choose one, like do some kind of Eenie Meenie Miney Mo type thing (don’t act like you’ve never played it). The problem with that is, if you don’t know anything about that gas and you just pick one, you could end up with a car that doesn’t perform as you would expect.
Candles are sort of the same way. Wax fuels the candle, but the type of wax used will heavily determine how much burn time you’ll get from your candle.
Wicks carry the fuel to the fire, but the type of wick will determine how quickly, slowly, even how evenly your candle will burn.
Additives are good to know about if you’re serious about having a candle that’s 100% natural. Here’s what I mean.
If you want a clean burning candle with as little soot possible, you’ll likely not want to choose a paraffin wax candle since paraffin candles are petroleum based and put out more soot than natural wax candles.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a candle that is sculpted, molded or has some sort of extravagant shape, a paraffin candle may be the perfect choice.
Let’s suppose, in another instance, you want your candle to stand alone but you’d like to burn it and you still don’t want the soot flying through the air. You’ll want a pillar candle made from natural wax, such as palm, soy or beeswax.
If you want a jar candle that burns a long time because you just love long burning candles, you’ll also want to go with something in the form of a natural wax because natural waxes tend to burn longer (up to twice as long) than petroleum based waxes (without additives).
Wicks are also important. If the wick is made with a zinc core, it may emit more soot than a cotton core, depending upon other factors as well.
There are additional wick options, but knowing a little about who you’re buying from and understanding what they offer will keep you from being disappointed.
If you’re looking for a candle that burns completely cotton wicks because you hate the thought of metal wire being in your candle wick, you’ll want to know that your candle maker only uses cotton wicks, before you buy, or you’ll end up unhappy.
Are there any additives? If you’re candle buyer who leans towards the 100% natural, you’ll want to know if the candle has any form of vybar, polymer, microcrystalline etc.
If you didn’t know that these could be in the candles you buy, they very well could.
These additives are used to help with firmness, increase burn time and temperatures as well as for overall appearance. While the wax used may be 100% natural, its additives can certainly take away from the idea of "all natural."
As a side note, and sort of a defense for candle makers who use these additives, candle makers need their candles to maintain a shelf life. Unless their candles are made to order, there has to be some sort of additive to keep the candle from losing its color under the bright lights of the store, etc.
Made to order candles give natural candle buyers the option of having beautiful all natural candles without those candles requiring such additives to maintain shelf life while waiting to be purchased.
For this reason, alongside the higher cost of natural product ingredients, 100% natural candles will likely cost a bit more than petroleum based candles.
On the upside, with the higher price tag, you get cleaner burning candles, a longer burn time, and a candle that doesn’t have mysterious additives to keep it looking good on the shelf.
While there are some candle makers that sell soy candles without additives and do keep them on the shelf, they aren't the majority. This is because soy has a tendency to frost, which doesn't look quite appealing to customers who aren't familiar with the natural occurrence of frosting in soy wax.
To keep those people happy, many soy candle makers will just use additives to keep their candles looking as "fresh" as possible on the shelf (to appeal to more buyers).
# 3. What’s the Appeal Factor You’re Seeking?
Here’s what I mean.
You’re buying your candle to serve some type of purpose.
It may be because you’re using it for something in particular or you just love candles. Your candle will need to appeal to the cause.
Do you love a particular scent?
Is the color compelling?
Is the novelty shape or style a must have?
Do you not care about the other things and just want the warming illumination of the flickering candlelight?
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The love of a particular scent is only one reason people love candles, but once again, if you’re looking for a 100% natural candle, and synthetic fragrances are used, you’re not really that all natural candle you think you're getting.
Not all candles use synthetic fragrances.
Essential oils are also used to provide scent in candles, many that give aromatherapy benefits. But, if you don’t inquire about this, you could end up very disturbed because you later find out that your candle hasn't met your requirements.
According to industry sales data, color is one of the top three reasons that consumers are drawn to their candle purchase.
Sometimes it’s how the color matches perfectly with the fragrance of the candle and connects the visual senses with the aromatic sense to make it more appealing to the buyer.
At other times, it could be that you fall in love with a candle color that perfectly matches your décor or that you need a particular color for an event.
Color definitely has its place in the minds of the candle consumer.
As a novelty candle maker, many of my own customers tend to lean towards bakery candles to complete an idea for a party theme, as a gift for a special occasion, or even to complement their décor.
It helps to know what style works best for what you’ll be using it for.
For example, if you’re participating in a candlelight ceremony, you may not want to go with something fun, like a dessert candle since these ceremonies are usually of a more serious nature.
When you’re decorating your home, and you just want something to stand out, there are many shapes that are used more for decorative purposes. Some of these would be:
- Hurricane candles
- Carved candles
- Water candles
- Sand candles
- Twisted taper candles
These and a few other stylish candles types are great choices for display candles and make quite a statement in your décor.
Here we have the reason for our first candles.
Candle light is no longer used as a source of lighting (unless there’s a power outage), but it’s still great for giving us a warm and inviting glow. So, if you’re simply looking for candles that will give you its beautiful flickering glow, your options may be wider.
Some of these options would include both colored candles as well as colorless in many of the different candle types, such as tapers, pillars, and jars.
Summing It All Up
With all of the choices available to you, as a candle consumer, knowing what you want from your candle will make a huge difference. Just a few questions answered will help you to weed out the candles that don’t suit your purpose, giving you the best chance of getting a candle you’ll absolutely love.