Reviewing candles and home fragrance products is difficult (violins, commence!) It is almost impossible to obtain samples of home fragrance (room sprays, diffuser oils, candles), and even if sample candles were available, how could I gauge their full-size effects? The reason most of my home fragrance product reviews are positive is not because I am eager to please or easily pleased, it's because I smell candles, room sprays, diffuser products and incense in a store before buying them and I buy what I like — and then review the products.
But every now and then I can’t resist the urge to buy something unsniffed (and unavailable locally) simply because of gorgeous packaging or ad copy that references exotic locales and cultures, rare or unusual ingredients, beloved flowers. Red Flower tempted me with a magical word: marigold.
Calendula (pot marigold), a genus of the daisy family (Asteracea), grows around the world; there are as many as 20 species of this plant, so talking about marigolds can be confusing. I’ll keep it simple and speak of marigold in a generic way (marigolds are one of my favorite flowers so I feel guilty giving them such short shrift).
Marigold is used as a medicine, insecticide, clothing dye, and fragrance. The marigolds I enjoy possess a zingy, peppery, spicy odor (reminiscent of tomato leaves and vines). Red Flower describes its Chinese Marigold candle (I’m not sure what a Chinese marigold is mind you, Red Flower seems to list its floral scents with a geographic marker) as being "pungent, masculine, earthy, generously scented."
Sadly, the scent of Red Flower’s Chinese Marigold candle is not of marigold at all — it is a simple sweet floral that reminds me of 'baby shampoo'. There is no pungency or masculinity, no earthiness in the fragrance. The throw of the candle is good, but it takes at least 30 minutes for the aroma to become apparent.
Red Flower’s candles are topped with dried flowers; this is unnecessary and annoying when the flowers stick to the wax. I guess one could just throw the dried blossoms into the yard waste container or plop them into a bowl of potpourri, but a friend says she uses them as TEA. I asked her if this was suggested on the candle box or insert, and she said: "No". She's still alive, but I would not recommend drinking an infusion of the dried material on Red Flower candles unless the company says it is safe!
During the Chinese Marigold candle’s burn, the melting wax (a beautiful orange color) overpowered the wick; there seemed to be too much wax in the container and the flame kept threatening to go out. Worse still: the wick was very brittle and burned in a ragged (and smoky) way and it was hard to trim (due to the narrowness of the Red Flower candle container).
Red Flower candles come with a cute booklet of 'light-my-flower' matches. I have been accused of theatricality, but my shout was genuine the first time I used these matches. Are they made of gunpowder? The noise of the "explosion" as I struck a match and the strong flame scared me (as sparks flew to the ceiling). One other warning: as the Red Flower Chinese Marigold candle burns, a very large amount of wax liquefies so let the candle cool completely before touching it after burning and do not move the candle with bare fingers during the burn or you too will scream.
The Red Flower Chinese Marigold Candle comes in two sizes: 6 oz. (45-50 hr. burn time, $34) or 1.5 oz (12-15 hr. burn time, $12). The Chinese Marigold scent is also available in soap and body wash. Red Flower candles are available from beautycollection or beautyhabit, or directly from redflower.
See also: Victoria's review of the Red Flower Indian Jasmine candle.