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Best scented candles 2021: Atmospheric aromas for your home from £19

Sarah Matthews
30 Nov 2021
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Add a touch of class and a soothing aroma to your home with our pick of the best scented candles you can buy

The best scented candles provide your home with a warm hypnotic glow, an inviting ambience and an alluring aroma, evoking anything from a Scandinavian winter’s walk to summer in Sicily. With fragrances including floral, woody, citrus, fruity, fresh, green, spicy and sweet, there’s something for everyone and for every season.

But which one should you pick? How much do you need to spend? How can you make sure you get a decent burning time? And how can you make sense of the various scents when you’re buying online or looking at a sealed box in a shop? Read on to find out what to look out for, as well as our pick of the best scented candles around.


Best scented candles: At a glance

  • Best spa candle: Neom Tranquillity | Buy now
  • Best all-rounder: Diptyque Baies | Buy now
  • Best autumnal candle: Rigaud Vésuve | Buy now
  • Best cosy candle: Destress by The Calm Society | Buy now

How to choose the best scented candle

What should a scented candle be made of?

Ideally, a scented candle should be completely natural, made from premium wax, perfume-grade fragrance and essential oils and pure cotton wicks, all ethically sourced. You don’t want a candle made from crude oil by-products, synthetic fragrances, artificial colouring and lead wicks – these not only look and smell artificial, but they can also release harmful toxins into the air.

Paraffin wax is commonly used for candles because it has a good scent throw and stable burn, but it can leave you with black soot marks on the inside of your candle holder. A popular alternative is soy wax, which comes from a renewable vegetable source. The burn is longer and cleaner than with paraffin, and the scent releases gently. Vegetable wax, which is extracted and purified from plants, looks similar to soy wax, but doesn’t burn quite as stably, so is often mixed with other types of wax. Beeswax is increasingly popular too because it has its own unique scent and long burn time.

How much should I pay?

Cheap scented candles can be overly sweet and gaudy in colour – and they tend to burn out quickly and aggressively. Pricier candles generally use premium ingredients that burn with a more elegant glow and natural aromas, as well as having a much longer burn time.

In other words, buying a cheap candle for a tenner is generally a false economy. Fragrance levels are typically low too, at around one to two per cent, whereas premium-brand ones offer 10 to 15 per cent, often with oils sourced from top perfumers. All of this costs money, of course: a standard-size high-end candle – around 190g, with a burning time of 40 hours – is likely to cost £30 or more.

How important is maintenance?

You might think that candles are simple things: you just light them, and chuck them out when they’re burned to the bottom, right? Well, not entirely. For maximum performance, you should burn your candle for no more than three hours at a time, and trim your wick to a quarter of an inch each time before lighting, to create the ideal flame size with minimal soot. And store it in a cool, dry place – never in direct sunlight.

READ NEXT: Best perfume

What are top, central and base notes?

Scented candles generally have three levels of fragrance: top, central and base notes. Top notes are the first aromas you will notice, while central notes act as the core or heart and the base notes tend to be the prevailing scent, which develops over time. The base and middle notes together form the main theme of the scent.

The best scented candles to buy

1. Neom Tranquillity: Best spa candle

Price: £32 | Buy now from Amazon

The award-winning Scent to Sleep range from Neom is calming in the extreme, making this scented candle the perfect accompaniment to an evening bath – or a great night-time burn for your bedroom. Blending 19 essential oils including English lavender, sweet basil, and jasmine, it’s de-stressing and relaxing, with a longer burn time than most. Soft and dreamy, yet highly effective, it comes from the brand set up by Nicola Elliott, who – after 10 years as a beauty journalist – decided to transform her after-work hobby of aromatherapy into a business in 2005.

Key details – Weight: 185g; Type of wax: Natural vegetable wax; Burn time: 35 hours; Container: Glass


2. diptyque Baies: Best all-round scented candle

Price: From £29 | Buy now from SpackNK

Set up in the 1960s by three friends, dipytque originally made fabrics – but their scented candles, introduced two years later, quickly became the cornerstone of their business. Over 50 scents are now available, and the company has a wide-reaching celebrity fan base, including Victoria Beckham. Baies (French for berries) is one of their best-known fragrances, and it’s a real show-stopper thanks to the elegant blend of slightly sweet rose balanced with the invigorating fruitiness of blackcurrant leaves. Sexy yet fresh, and exceptionally refined, you can smell it even when it’s not lit, yet it’s never overpowering – just totally addictive.

Key details – Weight: 190g; Type of wax: Blend of vegetable and paraffin wax; Burn time: 40 hours; Container: Glass

Buy now from SpackNK


3. Jo Malone London Pomegranate Noir: Best luxury pomegranate candle

Price: £50 | Buy now from John Lewis

Jo Malone’s lavish candle is as sensual as they come, with rich notes of pomegranate, raspberry and juicy plum along with pink pepper, lily and spicy woods. It all combines to make for a dreamy and luxurious scent that adds instant opulence to any home. It’s heady, mysterious and comforting, and the smell lingers for many hours after it’s been blown out. And like all Jo Malone products, it’s beautifully presented in extravagant black and cream packaging. More autumn/winter than spring/summer, in our opinion, it’s a modern musky scent that – to Jo Malone fans, at any rate – is instantly recognisable.

Key details – Weight: 200g; Type of wax: Custom blend of mineral and vegetable base wax; Burn time: 45 hours; Container: Glass

Buy now from John Lewis


4. Rigaud Vésuve: The best autumnal candle

Price: From £20 | Buy now from Amazon

This scented delight is made by Rigaud – a French brand hand-making candles to a mineral soft-wax formula. The wax melts to liquid quickly, providing a uniform burn that leaves you with no wasted wax at the end. And despite its quick melting credentials, the candle provides a whopping 28 hours of burn time with just 60g of wax.

This particular scent is called Vésuve, which is, you guessed it, inspired by the famous volcano. It contains essences of amber and incense to add depth, subtle notes of cedar and vetiver, as well as cinnamon and cumin for a touch of warmth. The fragrances are concentrated at a generous 12 percent, too, making a well-spiced autumnal scent that burns remarkably well, even in a large room.

28 hours of burn time is pretty generous for the price, but if you’re looking for a longer lasting candle, the brand also sells a Prestige size. This offers around 150 hours of burn time but will set you back a whopping £200.

Key details – Weight: from 60g; Type of wax: Patented Rigaud wax; Burn time: from 28 hours; Container: Glass


5. Woodwick Lemongrass & Lily: Best lemongrass candle

Price: £19| Buy now from Amazon

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the name, Woodwick candles have a wooden wick, which crackles as they burn. This helps to take you back to cosy winter nights in front of the wood burner or relaxing by a campfire. Not only do these candles sound great but they look great too, as the distinct hourglass shape and wooden lid give them a refined, elegant look.

Ultimately, all of these bells and whistles count for nought if the candle doesn’t smell good but we’re happy to report that it does. There’s a great balance between the floral scent of the lily and the sweet tanginess of the lemongrass and grapefruit, which provides a lifting, refreshing scent.

Key details – Weight: 600g (medium), 1,134g (large); Type of wax: Soy wax blend; Burn time: 60 hours (medium), 130 hours (large); Container: Glass and wood


6. Ted Baker Fig & Olive Blossom: Best Greek-inspired fragrance

Price: £24 | Buy now from Amazon

Elegant and comforting, this warm yet lively fragrance was an instant win for us. Inspired by scents from Ted Baker’s travels around the world – in this case, Athens – it comes housed in a beautiful on-trend grey glass jar, with grey and pink packaging and a weighty feel that makes it seem even more luxurious. There’s a reed diffuser to match and both boast a green floral scent with notes of summer fig and soft olive blossom, along with sensuous geranium and rich amber. For under £30, this is surprisingly sophisticated and seductive.

Key details – Weight: 200g; Type of wax: Blend of vegetable and mineral waxes; Burn time: 50 hours; Container: glass


7. Destress by The Calm Society: The best cosy candle for chilly nights in

Price: £20 | Buy now from Holland and Barrett

The Calm Society makes small-batch candles that are specifically designed to boost happy thoughts and bring you into a calm state of mind. They’re hand-poured using natural soy wax and essential oils to create soothing scents for different moods. What’s more, they’re vegan friendly and free from artificial colours, preservatives and solvents.

We think the Destress candle is perfect for a wind-down in the evening. The complex blend of ylang ylang, lavender, pine needle and peppermint makes a subtly festive scent that’s perfect for whiling away winter evenings. If you're looking for a candle that’ll give your room a warm, natural smell that subtly builds over time, this is one to try.

Key details – Weight: 150g; Type of wax: Natural soy wax; Burn time: 35 hours; Container: Glass

Buy now from Holland and Barrett


8. Pott candle: The best refillable candle

Price: From £30 | Buy now from Pott

If you want a candle that’s as sustainable as it is fragrant, these refillable candles are the way to go. Pott offers refills on all its candles, so you can switch up and refresh your scent every season without paying for a new container. To start, you buy a hand-thrown, ceramic pot and a scent to go with it. Once you’re done burning your starter scent, you can buy a new wax refill, which costs £13 for a medium, 20-hour burn and £20 for a larger, 60-hour burn.

Alongside its six classic scents, there are also limited-edition candles released throughout the year. Our favourite Autumnal scent is Tonka: a sweet, creamy flavour, often likened to vanilla, mixed with patchouli and cedar for a woody, earthy undertone. The scents are subtle and fill a medium sized room with ease and melt beautifully into the pot without tunnelling.

Better still, the candles are all-natural and vegan, so they’re super safe to burn, and the ceramic pots are available to buy in four calming, neutral colours: heather grey, blush pink, white and speckled cream.

Key details – Weight: 80g (S), 290g (L); Type of wax: rapeseed & coconut wax; Burn time: 20 hours (S), 60 hours (L); Container: Reusable, hand-thrown ceramic pot

Buy now from Pott


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