Candles are a common household object. They're warm, welcoming and help evoke the beauty of every season. Scents bring us back to a specific time and place.
As of late, we've been hearing more about candles:
- What are the different types of candle wax? What are the differences in them?
- Why do candles sometimes smell different in store versus when they're lit?
- How can I properly care for my candle?
Well we're here to answer your candle questions!
1. The Scent Experience
Have you ever heard the term 'candle throw'? No, we don't mean actually chucking a candle across the room or anything. Candle throw refers to the quality of the smell; the strength or weakness of the candle scent and how it flows throughout the room it's in and fills it up.
'Cold throw' is how a candle smells when you pick it up off the store shelf and sniff it. 'Hot throw' is how strong a fragrance experience is when it's burning.
You may think if a candle has a robust cold throw it'll have a satisfactory hot throw. Sadly (and confusingly), this is not the guarantee. It all depends on the candle's design quality and the type of wax used.
Moral of the story: hot and cold throw can smell differently from each other. For lower-quality candles with a single dominant scent (e.x., a eucalyptus candle), there most likely won't be much difference. For a high-quality candle company with a well-done balance of different scents, you could notice a bit of a difference after it's lit.
If you're looking for a stronger scent experience, here are a few tips when you're candle shopping:
- The wick - it's in charge of the temperature the candle burns at. Higher temps lead to more evaporation and thus a stronger hot throw.
- Type of wax - we'll talk more about waxes in a minute, but for now - melted soy wax is not as hot as melted paraffin. It has a lower melting point. Thus, soy wax has a weaker throw.
- Quality & quantity - high-quality fragrance oils that are free of impurities and mixed into the wax at an ideal concentration will have a stronger throw.
- Vessel - it plays an important part. It determines the maximum size and surface area of your wax pool. When fully melted, the larger the wax pool, the faster the scent molecules can evaporate and produce a strong hot throw.
2. Wax Types
Not all wax is created equal, and yes, some are a healthier option than others. There are numerous types of candle wax, including blends, but there are more commonplace ones. These are the waxes we'll focus on.
This option is very inexpensive and most commonly used across candle brands. It can hold a high amount of fragrance as well as color. Paraffin wax is not the most eco-friendly option as it's a byproduct of the oil industry. Plus, if a paraffin wax candle is not well cared for, it will create soot.
Soy wax is a great value because of its slow burn. Made from soy beans, this eco-friendly option can be a bit temperamental in how hot it actually gets and in how it holds or doesn't hold scent.
Derived from bees during the honey-making process, this form of wax is one of the oldest and is a great eco-friendly option. Because of the honey, it naturally has a sweet aroma that helps purify the air. How cool is that?
Harvested from coconuts and unfortunately quite expensive, coconut wax comes from a high-yield and sustainable crop, which is why it's so popular. It also holds fragrance and color very well in addition to producing a clean, minimally soot-y burn (technically speaking).
Ultimately, when you're choosing what candle is best for you, it's up to you: how eco-conscious you want to be, how strong you prefer your fragrance, how much you want to spend, etc.. Each candle wax has their own pros and cons.
3. Candle Care
How to prevent 'candle tunneling'.
Candle tunneling is when your candle does that lovely thing of melting straight down the middle and leaving the side/rim of the wax unburned. It shortens the life span of your candle, looks yucky and if you let it keep going, the wick will get lost deeper in the surrounding wax and won't get enough oxygen, causing the flame to go out. So basically, it's a candle catastrophe!
Sometimes candle tunneling is a candle quality issue (the wick is too small), but it's also indicative of bad candle burning habits, and can happen to even the highest-quality candles.
When we say 'bad candle burning habits' we mean the first time you light your candle. Depending on the size of your candle, it's important to let it burn for at least a couple of hours that first time. If you don't, tunneling is almost unavoidable. You see, wax surprisingly has a certain type of 'memory' - wax will never be as hard after it's been lit. If you burned a candle yesterday and light it again today, it's softer than the candle that hasn't been lit for two weeks; and the two week 'old' candle is softer than the one that hasn't been touched in three weeks. You get the idea.
If you only let the candle melt (soften) in the middle the first time you burn it, then when you go to enjoy the candle again, the softer part will melt faster than the hard part that hasn't even been affected. Thus, it's important to let it all get to the same softness so it stays that way for uses to come.
Other candle care and burning tips.
- Always burn your candle within eyesight. Never leave a candle unattended.
- To ensure an even burn and to minimize sooting, trim the wick 1/4 of an inch before every burn. To ensure the vessel doesn't burn and the candle doesn't smoke the next time it's lit, after every burn, trim the wick about 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch.
- When trimming wicks, we recommend a good set of wick trimmers.
- To keep the fragrance fresh, don't burn your candle for more than four hours at a time.
- If soot or smoke gets on the vessel, wait for it to cool and then wipe it down.
- Don't let wick debris or anything get in the wax pool.
- To eliminate smoke, extinguish the candle with a snuffer.
- To get the full scent experience, light a candle in the desired space with the doors closed for about 30 minutes. Then open up the doors, windows and what have you, relax and enjoy!