Between November and March is the period I call “Scented-Candle Danger Zone.” During these cool/cold months, I yearn for, “research,” and then buy perfumed candles…expen$ive candle$. Over the years, I've come to realize that a single, $100 dollar candle usually makes more sense budget-wise (and ambiance-wise) than three $33 candles, or five $20 candles. Inexpensive candles almost always smell cheap; their artificial aromas and blends must have been devised by a computer program or a food-crazed focus group who loves cheap candy. I hate candles that smell like carnival food: Caramel Apple Sundae, anyone? CocoNut-ChocoCone? Pumpkin 'n' Spice Latte? Ick. And what’s worse than cheap-smelling floral candles? (I guess you could call me a candle snob…or a “candle idiot” if you must…you won’t hurt my feelings!)
But as my hubby says: “Kevin, you pay more in parking fees in one week than you do on one candle!” How nice to have an enabler at home. He’s right. What do I get from parking fees? A concrete space to occupy. A $100 candle gives me pleasure for months (sixty or more hours of burn-time!) I don’t eat out much because my official enabler is a great cook, so I buy a candle, or two, or three, with that saved restaurant money!
My best reason to buy expensive scented candles? I'll only live once! I enjoy what I can, when I can. And the little bit of money I"m spending on candles really won’t finance the early retirement in Italy I so desire (and deserve).
Enough rationalizations! This week I received a candle sample from Rive Sud Interior — its Via della basilica* candle. Though the sample is just a bit bigger than a votive, it packs a punch; the throw of this little candle is amazing. I can’t even imagine the power of the full-size/three-wick Via della basilica candle — could it scent a real basilica? Maybe!
Via della basilica begins with the aroma of “liquid” immortelle, not dusty or fusty immortelle, but smooth and elegant immortelle (with a hint of brown butter). As the immortelle develops, herbal aromas, some “dry/dusty,” some “simmering/glistening” join the mix. During certain phases of the burn, I think something mildly intoxicating is brewing/cooking in the kitchen: a herb-vodka infusion? Or an aromatic soup of tangy herbs and spice with an exotic bead of myrrh added for interest? About 30 minutes into the burn, a lovely, subdued incense aroma emerges; it’s a creamy/dreamy incense — not ashy or smoky — like the scent of just-lit incense sticks or cones. Via della basilica is a great candle.
If you have any scented candle recommendations in the $50-or-under range...please share. Several years ago, I bought a huge bag of vanilla-scented votives from Ikea for around $10...and they smelled great. But what would I do if a $100 (or more) scented candle were out of my reach financially? I'd be perfectly happy with some gorgeous-smelling beeswax candles or unscented candles...really, the light of a burning candle is even more magical than its aroma.
The Via della basilica candle is 250€ for a 1,100 g, three-wick candle (that's almost 40 ounces of wax!) The candle burns cleanly and evenly (rare). Other Rive Sud Interior candle scents are Rosewood (also in 1,100 g), and Acqua di latte and Cap Ferrat les Pins (both 220 g/70€). I can't wait to smell Rosewood; if it captures the scent of true rosewood...I'm in trouble.
*Via della basilica's listed notes are: black pepper, myrrh and cedar; perfumer Delphine Thierry.
Note: top image via Wikimedia Commons.
Love your review of Via Della Basilica candle. I also got my sample candy from Rive Sud Interior and I was really impressed by its quality. I found the scent of it to be slightly peppery-metalic, meditative because of the incense note and quite ascetic because of the immortelle.
Your words sum up the aroma really well, however to me the immortelle was a little bit more syrupy than you say. Other things, I agree.
Currently I’m using Acqua di Latte candle, also from Rive Sud Interior. It smells really good but just like you I hope to smell their Rosewood candle.
Lucasai…I love rosewood so much…and, as with mysore sandalwood, I miss it in perfumes. Whoever can duplicate the scent has a customer!
Did you order the Rosewood candle? Or you just wanted to express that you *can’t wait* to smell it but you don’t know when it’s going to happen?
L: hoping the line will go on sale in the US…certainly won’t buy it unsniffed!
I use an aromatherapy nebulizer with rosewood oil. Heavenly!
Holly…where do you buy your rosewood oil?
White Lotus Aromatics, located in Port Angeles, WA. Their oils are truly exquisite, and lucky for you, the rosewood is not pricey. You can also drip it into a slightly melted unlit candle and swirl it around for the next use, or onto incense and and and …. well, you get my drift.
Thanks…I will check them out!
Oh, Holly, I love Port Angeles! Are you up in there in the sound somewhere?
Marjorie Rose, I’ve never been to Port Angeles but I adore the area. My experience with White Lotus has been strictly through their website. Worth taking a look at, if you’re into essential oils!
This candle sounds heavenly (and I love those rationalizations).
I do have a number of candles but rarely burn them because we have a cat, so I recently splurged on that Diptyque electric diffuser (see, this is my rationalization), which is about the same price as this full-sized candle. I’m really liking it a lot—not quite the same ambience as a burning candle, but much safer under the circumstances. I got a couple of the scent cartridges (Feu de Bois and Ambre) with it, and then decided to order a couple more… to which my husband responded “Do they have vanilla?” He would probably be just as happy with the Ikea votives…
Janice…interesting…you are the first to mention the diffuser…glad you are enjoying it. My cats ignore candles…but I do place candles out of whiskers (and tails) way!
Janice, I’ve been wondering about that Diptyque diffuser, so it’s good to hear you like it. I often use a Bergere lamp which I adore.
I had never heard of those lamps, so I checked out their web site. They have some beautiful lamps! The lighting process seemed a bit long and dangerous to me (I watched a video on You Tube), but I think that I could overcome my fear of fire plus flammable liquids for one of these lovelies.
They are really nice. I’ve had mine for decades, so fortunately You Tube wasn’t in existence yet! You could also try an aromatherapy nebulizer, less complicated but certainly not as pretty
ha ha, you mentioned one of my favorite shopping rationalizations, not going out to dinner a lot. Can’t wait to try my new Malle/Ropion Christmas candle next week, but this one sounds divine as well.
Gal: a Malle candle is in my future too…most likely the lily one.
So you probably have no interest in the King Candle I saw today at Yankee Candle. I had to go in the store just to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. It is $299. I’ve never seen a candle that big. 13lbs! Balsam & Cedar scent. I did snap a photo of it because it was pretty amazing.
A candle I would buy again was by Aquiesse and it was Cinnamon Tabac. I found it at TJ Maxx on clearance. It was a wonderful spicy sweet tobacco scent.
Poodle…I am trying to imagine that candle…how many wicks?
I think it has four. It was hard to see because they had it wrapped with a ribbon.
The candles I have been most impressed with are by Archipelago Botanicals and Votivo. Both well under $50 and smell fabulous — Archipelago Botanicals in particular is a real bargain! Voluspa has gorgeous packaging and amazing strength and throw, but I find the scent I chose a little syntheticy and do not love it (Arcadia — maybe some of their others are better?). I have a large Bluewick candle that smells nice but isn’t very strong.
I was just at Marshall’s and they had holiday candles from Aquiesse and Archipelago Botanicals, as well as chocolate-scented ones from Godiva.
Thalia: I like some of the Archipelago scents…but, like Diptyque candles, the burn is awful…so uneven…so stopped buying them. Will have to look into Aquiesse…dont think I have seen them.
Thymes Frasier Fir is pretty good, and often goes on sale after the holidays, which makes it even more reasonable that its ca. $20 price.
I’ve been burned (bad joke) by Cire Trudon and AP, as they did not have much throw for the money. Broke down and got the Dyptique Christmas mini candle set of 10, and I am feeling encouraged.
AA Thymes used to have a vanilla candle I liked. The Cire Trudons I buy are strongly scented…but some in the line are more ‘demure.’
The only (somewhat) cheaper candles that I have found compete with the higher end ones are from Voluspa.
Astra…one thing I can say about Voluspa…their waxes burn beautifully. None of the scents have appealed to me though, alas.
Acquired the Voluspa Suede Blanc candle in Santa Fe last week, but had a hard time deciding which one to buy. I think the other one had tabac in the name, and I’m pretty sure it had oud in it.
Also ran across a shop that carried Lubin candles, they were divine, but at either $80 or $90 apiece, I resisted temptation. The Idole EDP however, I could not resist
Relleric!!!!! i had not heard of those! idole is great.
I have bought some Voluspa, and the prices are great.
The one that I am enjoying the most right now is Eden & Pear. It is not Holiday-themed. But, the aroma is that of a freshly-sliced pear. Very juicy.
I love candles, and have to refrain from buying one every time that I go into a new store.
Today, I bought a string of small mercury glass lights, instead. They were so lovely that I had to get them.
Sunnlit, HA, I just bought the Illume Amberleaf candle…in mercury glass container. It was just $38
I’m not sure if they are sold in America but I have used these soya candles from which you can take the hot ‘wax’ and actually use it as a body cream! There are some scents I like more than others, but I adore the feel of it on my skin!
By the way, I saw Diptyque Christmas candles being sold here for R1000 ($100 each). Are they anywhere near that expensive in the states?
Merlin…they are about $70 here.
Kevin, do you have the soya candles also there? So many wonderful brands are always mentioned in your candle posts and in the comments but here there seems to be mainly either brands like Yankee candle, which is at least strong, even if synthetic, or more ordinary but weaker ones. And, we do have some hyper-expensive ones: a shop here now offers Malle and Diptyque, and another one has Cire Trudon, Aqua di Parma, Hotel Costes and such…
M: don’t think I have seen a brand called Soya….
I think Merlin means soy wax.
I’ve seen those lotion candles on-line from U.S. sellers. I think that Dermstore sells them. I am allergic to most lotions and moisturizers (even the “natural” ones), and I’ve really had to fight the urge to buy the Coconut Chai lotion candle
I’ve never been brave enough to try an expensive candle, although I do love burning candles this time of year!
Also want to state that I’m so happy for you (and jealous for me) that you have such a lovely, enabling hubby! My current fella is showing positive, enabling signs, though!
MR: good! Maybe you should forward him this post and he’ll get you a candle for the holidays!
What I really, really, really want for Christmas is a sample set of all the Frederic Malle candles. Yes, it’s true, I haven’t been THAT good, but who has? We never get a white Christmas here in the DC area, so I it only seems fair.
Noz…I remember many 65 degree Christmases in Virginia Beach….
I relate to your rationalisations, Kevin. I am not the party girl I was so I believe I can spend a little more to enhance the cocooning at home experience :). My candle recommendations are mostly UK based. I find Diptyque mostly good quality and interesting but they are increasingly spendy so recently my candle pleasures have emanated from a company based in Bath called True Grace. They have interesting as well as straightforward scents, a good clean burn, good throw and are at least £10 cheaper than Diptyque. The White Company have a limited edition Festive candle this year featuring neroli, almond blossom and incense. It’s a little weird but I love it. Oh and then, a world wide fav, Patricia de Nicolai’s home scents, including her scents for lampe bergers. There’s a lovely honey and incense one and the cedar one is good and piney!
Honey and incense? Nice!
Dona…I will have to investigate those PdN candles… The other brands must not be in the US.
I have to agree with you. I used to burn Yankee candles before I could afford higher end ones and it was fine for the most part – I stuck to Eucalyptus, any pine variation with no fruit or spice and the Jack Frost limited edition – and then (being in the UK) I couldn’t get them anymore. I think JF was phased out for good, Eucalyptus was very hard to get, and any pine seemed to be paired with fruit. I also had issues with the smallest jars – they were put out constantly by their own melting wax. I burn Diptyque (Menthe Verte, Coing, any seasonal pine based scent) and Izola (really clean burn, and the Rosemary and Thyme scents are beautiful – they don’t have thrown when unlit but do subtly fill the room when burning) mainly now, with some Cire Trudon (Balmoral and Abd El Khader) and Rigaud cypres at Christmas. I also like Le Labo’s Anis candle and I got an Aedes candle (the rhubarb EDP based one) as a gift which I am excited to burn.
I too have a sample of this Via Della Basilica candle and find it just lovely. Not getting as much immortelle out of it as you and Lucasai seem to, but that’s okay – I’m not much of an immortelle fan.
Oddly, I find that if I’ve had this candle burning for longer than, oh, thirty minutes, I lose the ability to smell it. After I blow it out, I can smell it again.
I’m very curious about scented candles, but as an avid incense burner, I find my apartment is smoked up quite regularly…but I did buy the Malle Saint de Saint candle a while back. Unfortunately, while in love with the scent, I was unimpressed by its sillage and found it did not scent a room as it should have ($$$). But, your review Kevin gives me hope for a better future – and a hope that some of the Malle candles are better in sillage…I’m craving some of the Cire Trudon candles like mad…anyone have experience with those?
Jared: that’s what’s so difficult about candles…some that smell powerful in the jar don’t produce lots of scent when burning…others you can barely smell in the jar take over a room. It’s trial and error…I love Cire Trudon, but it has its quiet scents and its loud perfumes. As a line, I think Astier de Villatte has the best candle sillage, and burn (even, smokeless). I used to be an incense fanatic…but can’t take the fumes any longer…so burn it outside on my porch in summer…and can smell it in the house without the heavy smoke.