As any secret candle hoarder will tell you, winter is the best time for new scents. With the darkness creeping in mid-afternoon, we’re doing all we can to stay warm, cosy and free of the winter blues and nothing quite does the trick like a permanent aroma of cinnamon, orange or ginger.
But while this may be the traditional combo for winter fragrances, more brands are thinking outside the box for 2020. Expect plenty of heady woodland tones and dark, musky notes.
As an added bonus, you’ll likely to see more jazzed up scents thanks to more festive offerings. Forget tea lights and transparent votives and prepare for the sleekest, sparkliest candles of the year.
Whether you’re looking to gift someone their new favourite scent or bring some zen to the chaos that is this year, we’ve rounded up our top 10 favourite offerings available this winter.
We let our senses do the talking, sniffing out the most irresistible luxury and budget candles. Not only did scents have to carry throughout the home, but we wanted something that would burn evenly and last us through the festive season.
Our top tip for prolonging the life of any candle? Regularly trim the wick, re-centre it after use and keep the wax clear of dust.
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UpCircle chai tea latte soy wax candle, 120ml
This brand prides itself on sitting at the heart of a circular economy (hence the name), so it’s unsurprising that this candle is as sustainable as it gets – using repurposed tea spices, plastic-free packaging, and all-natural and vegan ingredients. The scent, a warming chai latte, hits you the moment you remove the lid and only gets stronger once lit. Soy wax tends to burn longer than paraffin (and emits less soot) so the burn time is somewhere between 20 and 25 hours. However, even unlit it did a solid job of fragrancing the room. This type of wax melts evenly across the top on its first burn to allow it to form “memory” and prevent any irritating tunnelling in the future. Sustainable brands often lack in the aesthetic department but that’s not a problem here – the brown glass casing and a dusting of chai on the top layer of wax makes it a cosy addition to any winter evening.
Diptyque sapin de nuit scented candle, 190g
Some people treat Diptyque candles as collector’s items and for good reason. The most festive of the brand’s 2020 offerings, sapin de nuit is fragranced with eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary and fir to transport you to a snowy winter’s night. For our tester, it was love at first sight – the illustrations of a stag in Diptyque’s native Paris, provided by French artist Ugo Gattoni, scream Christmas. While pricey, the scent carried to every corner of the home and the container can even be reused as a tealight holder once the wick has completed its 60-hour burn time. The full-size 190g candle might set you back £58, but a smaller 70g option is available for £32.
ESPA winter spice deluxe candle, 410g
A blend of orange, clove, cinnamon and ginger, this hand-poured candle reminds us of mulled wine on a cold winter’s evening. The scent diffuses quickly, but never gets too overpowering. At 410g of wax, you have plenty to keep you going over the Christmas season. We did find that the wax and wick went down quicker than we would have liked. However, the classic green and gold packaging makes it a stylish gift or centrepiece on any coffee table.
Von Norten oakwood and cedar candle, 215g
Eco-friendly Swedish brand Von Norten handmakes all of its plant wax candles in the UK, using ethically-sourced and vegan ingredients in recycled glass. Its oakwood and cedar scent has won awards and it only takes a few minutes of burn-time to figure out why. If you need further convincing, it can burn for up to 60 hours. Smokey yet delicate, it’s the only way any of us will experience a Scandinavian forest excursion this winter, and the casing is simple, classy and complements any home decor.
Noble Isle fireside single wick candle, 200g
For those of us without a fireplace of our own, fireside is the closest we’ll get this winter. Both spicy and woody, it’s a prime example of Noble Isle’s ability to make the everyday feel like a spa day. Expect up to 45 hours burn-time, during which you and your mantlepiece can appreciate its elegant black and gold design. Social distancing never felt so cosy.
The White Company winter signature candle, 140g
Winter has been a bestseller since its inception 21 years ago, thanks to its classic cinnamon, clove and orange combo. This year’s edition is packaged in a new illustrated festive box, making it a perfect gift (whether that’s to friends, family or just you). Thanks to the use of mineral wax, it gives a clean, even burn, especially if you trim the wick in between uses. Expect it to fill your home with the scent of Christmas for up to 33-hours.
Neom Organics Christmas wish scented candle
A part of Neom’s de-stress range, this is a soothing yet spicy scent that will put you in the right headspace this season. There are over 13 oils at work, but the most prominent notes are orange, cinnamon and vanilla. Triple wicks help it burn evenly but, to eliminate any risk of tunnelling, Neom recommends burning for a minimum of two hours and a maximum of four hours at a time. We loved the navy, starry wrap of the holder and found the reach powerful without becoming too sickly.
Skandinavisk skog forest scented candle, 200g
Skandinavisk knows nowhere does winter like Scandinavia and has somehow packaged the scent of the “skog” (Swedish for “forest”) for us all to experience the magic. This is packed with notes of pine, fir, birch and lily, all blended into Swedish rapeseed wax. Even the packaging is bang on theme, encasing the candle in woodland green and topped with beechwood. Not only does this have a long burn-life (50 hours), but it’s probably the most aesthetically pleasing on this list.
wxy nights candle, 198g
If you’re looking for something a little more subtle, we recommend this one. The fragrance recalls memories of long, dark nights and early mornings, fusing honey bourbon, brown sugar, tobacco leaf and vanilla. This is one of the most potent scents on this list and definitely won’t be to everyone’s tastes. We personally loved its muskiness and found it proficient at masking other smells. Also available in a mini size (7oz) for £12.
Yankee Candle holiday hearth large jar candle, 623g
The holiday season is when Yankee Candle really shines. Of all this year’s festive scents, holiday hearth is our favourite (although honourable mentions go to frost gingerbread and Christmas Eve). Simultaneously spicy and sweet, it combines anise, cinnamon, cloves, gardenia, cedarwood, oakmoss musk and vanilla. It sounds like a lot, but it manages to evoke scenes of the warm, cosy Christmases you’d expect from a Hallmark movie. While you can also find it in tealight, votive, small and medium jar form, we recommend going for the large. This has one of the longest burn-time we’ve ever experienced (up to 150 hours!) and will see you from 1 December through to New Year’s Day. It might not be one of the sleekest on offer, but feels the most like home.
The verdict: Winter candles
The cheapest entry on this list also happens to be our favourite. UpCircle’s chai tea latte soy wax candle is simple but strong and warmed up even the darkest, coldest nights of an otherwise dismal year. We also love the Diptyque sapin de nuit candle for a more luxurious treat, while Yankee Candle’s holiday hearth is the most festive scent around.
For a more powerful alternative to candles, read our review of the best plug-in air fresheners
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