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Best Scented Candles for the Home 2021

Ruth Shin

Ruth Shin

A good scented candle can transform the ambiance of your home and can add beauty. Find out which candles PropertyNest named the best of the year as must-have brands for your home and why we named them the best. Learn how scented candles are made and why knowing the ingredients is important.
Scented Candles

Scented candles have become an essential item in most homes these days and are a huge part of the fragrance or perfume industry, along with room sprays and room diffusers.

Back in the day, if you wanted your home to smell good, you'd spray something like Glade to freshen up.

Scented candles were something you might typically purchase in a drugstore. The scents were pretty simple and standard like lavender, citrus, or ocean breeze.

However, with the emergence of the aromatherapy industry and the perfume industry catching on the way, any designer who wants to cash has to add scented candles to their collections.

Not only are scented candles used to infuse your home with pleasing aromas but are frequently used as a form of decor, and at times, even a status symbol.

Top Picks for Scented Candles

PropertyNest rated the following scented candle brands as our top picks for the home.

We looked at scented candles because of their ability to transform the ambiance of a room just with their fragrance and actually make people feel differently about any space.

It's also now a must-have item in most homes and makes a great gift.

You might notice the absence of major industry heavyweights like Diptyque, Nest, or Jo Malone on our list as we solely focused on brands that offered candles that avoided paraffin wax as an ingredient.

Best Scented Candle Brand Known For Their Signature Fragrances: Apotheke

Apotheke Candles

Many of the Apotheke candles are quite popular. However, this Brooklyn-based studio is probably best known for its Hinoki Lavender and Charcoal fragrances.

You may have even smelled Apotheke's fragrances around as they are very popular with brick and mortar stores and hotels nationwide, which is no small feat considering that the founder started out by selling handmade soaps in a farmers market.

Today, they operate from a 3,000 sf factory in Brooklyn.

They have a handful of other highly regarded fragrances for candles and usually add on a few seasonal scents. One of the reasons their fragrances stand apart is due to their complexity.

Interestingly, much of their products are purely scented with essential oils and plant-based products. Their candles, according to their website are made of a blend of soy and mineral wax and fragrance oils.

ProsCons
Luxurious and complex fragrancesContains some mineral wax
More affordable than luxury brands

Best Scented Candle Brand For Most Design Choices: Paddywax

Paddywax Candles

Like most of the mentioned brands on this list, Paddywax is a specialty company that focuses on hand-poured candles along with select personal products and other home fragrance products.

What sets them apart is the sheer number of scented candle lines as well as the unique designs they offer. 

Any scented candle lover will tell you that it's not just about the fragrance but also the aesthetics of the candle itself. If you are someone that uses candles for room decor, Paddywax probably has a line of candles that right for you.

They have over 20 different collections which are all different designs. Materials range from concrete, glass, metal, ceramic, and each collection offers different colors, finishes, and textures.

Paddywax's vessels can be considered eco-friendly. Their Eco Collection specifically uses recycled glass but many if not all of their vessels can be repurposed after the candle is finished.

Paddywax candles are made with soy wax from American farms.

ProsCons
Large selection of fragrances and designsSome fragrances are not as strong as others
Affordable

Best Scented Candles You Can Buy at the Supermarket: Mrs. Meyer's

Mrs. Meyers Candle

You might have seen Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day products in your cleaning aisle and see these products as a great choice for eco-friendly home cleaning. 

However, they actually offer a whole line of scented candles that features some of their most beloved scents such as lavender, basil, and lemon verbena.

An awesome perk is that their candles come in glass jars with lids that can be repurposed as jam jars when you're done. For those who need fewer hours of burn time, Mrs. Meyers also sells candles in a smaller tin.

Made of 100% soy wax, these candles live up to the green reputation of the company. The best part is you can just pick these up at your local supermarket or drugstore while you're shopping as they are widely available.

These candles average around $10, putting them on the cheap side of scented candles.

ProsCons
Cheap and widely availableSome people may find Mrs. Meyer's fragrances overpowering
Their popular scents are available in candle form

Best Cheap Scented Candles That Are High Quality: DW Home

DW Home Candles

DW Home, like Paddywax predominantly concentrates on scented candles and offers a number of fragrance collections that also feature different looks.

DW Home's candles all have complex and high-quality perfumes as well as vessels and are sold at an affordable price. Prices typically start around $14-$18, with many candles averaging around $20-$26.

However, you are getting a lot more candle for your buck as these are larger candles than average and have a much longer burn time.

The average weight of their medium candles is 9 oz but sometimes smaller sizes like 4 oz can be available for as little as $5.

To make things even more economical, you can even purchase additional scented wax melts and wicks to refill your candle for some of DW's collections!

You can also rest assured that you're getting a pretty clean burn when you light a DW Home candle. Their candles are made of a proprietary blend of coconut, palm, and only trace amounts of paraffin.

In addition, DW Home fully discloses the rest of their ingredients on their website per candle.

ProsCons
Large selection of scents and designsSome fragrances may not be as strong as others
Very economical and affordable

Best Scented Candle Brand That Breaks Down Gender Barriers: Boy Smells

Boy Smells Candles

Not only does Boy Smells break the myth that candles are only for women but it doesn't discriminate on who their candles are for (despite having the word "boy" in their name).

That's because their fragrances are unisex and work for all different tastes, whatever your gender identity may be.

Their signature line comes in black glass vessels that make it easy to recognize this brand. The line features fragrances like Cedar Stack, Cashmere Kush, and Ash.

Just because it's unisex, it doesn't mean that Boy Smells shies away from floral scents either. Many of their candles have floral components that are balanced with other notes like smoke or even tomato as experienced in their candle "Gardener".

Their candle wax is comprised of blended coconut wax and beeswax.

Boy Smells also makes underwear. It may seem a strange correlation but it actually meshes with their genderless mantra because the undergarments are meant to be wearable for all.

ProsCons
Candle fragrances are appropriate for allPricey
Beautifully complex perfumes

Best High-End Novelty Scented Candles: The Sphinx and The Priestess

Sphinx Priestess Candles

Urban witches and crystal healers alike will be thrilled to discover these candles from The Sphinx and The Priestess.

This candle line goes beyond lighting dried sage. This company claims it actually only pours its candles during full and new moons, reciting mantras to harness the power of the moon.

That translates into more powerful manifestation rituals for you! Each candle is powered with a crystal that will be fully energized with your intentions once you are finished with the candle.

Frankly, this is not the only Tarot Reading candle you could buy but it should be.

However, you don't have to be a Tarot practitioner in order to appreciate these candles. They are great for creating a clean or mystical ambiance in your home.

These luxurious candles are made with 100% soy wax and scented with botanicals and essential oils, making them perfect for those adverse to strong perfumes and smells.

Candles run $55.

ProsCons
Luxurious fragrancesPricey
Perfect for a Tarot practitionerYour wishes might come true.
Your wishes might come true

Best Scented Candle Brand That Gives Back to the Community: Thistle Farms

Thistle Farms Candle

Thistle Farms is not just a candle company. They are actually a charitable organization that works to support female survivors of abuse.

Their organization runs a residential program, providing housing, counseling, healthcare, training, and employment for two years to help survivors get back on their feet.

Participants can also have gainful employment at the company producing high-quality personal and home products and at the cafe which is also run by Thistle Farms.

The candle-making business rose out of the need to help survivors gain meaningful and self-sustaining employment.

Their candles are exquisitely wholesome, made of soy wax and vybar and essential oils, making them perfect for people who don't like overpowering fragrances.

Thistle Farm candles are perfect for relaxing aromatherapy or just creating a calm space in your home.

ProsCons
Strong mission-driven organizationPricey
Scented with only essential oils and natural ingredients
Large selection

Best Eco-Friendly Candle Brand: Kodiak Impact

Kodiak Impact Candle

With a name like Kodiak Impact, you'd think this company had a mission to save the environment and you'd be right. Every purchase from this company contributes to giving back to the environment as stated on their website.

The company plants a tree for every purchased product in their Kodiak forest and donates $1 from every purchase to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

What's more, is that they offset their carbon footprint that comes from shipping by funding renewables like solar and wind.

As a matter of fact, every single component of these candles is carefully thought out to not only consider the environmental impact but also prevent the customer's exposure to toxic ingredients.

Like with most vessels, Kodiak's glass from their candles can be reused as a glass. However, if you want more candle you can also purchase additional wax melts.

The best part is that their fragrances reflect the natural environment. Much of their scents are nature-based such as White Birch and Cypress and Caribbean Teakwood.

ProsCons
Core mission is giving back to the environmentPricey
Environmentally-friendly packaging
Wax melt refills available

Best Marketplace for Scented Candles for Gifting: UncommonGoods

Uncommon goods candle

If you're not familiar with Uncommon Goods, they sell a full array of unique and cool gifts. Their home fragrance section is no different.

While you can find a ton of different products on other sites like Etsy, it may become overwhelming with the number of choices.

The advantage of shopping on Uncommon Goods is that the items are curated carefully by the store. So, you know they aren't just indiscriminately selling anything on their site.

Not all their candles are paraffin-free but the ingredients are listed, and you can find so many cool candles to gift such as the Homesick candles (sold by city or state for your homesick friend), Birth Month Gemstone Candles, or the Literary Candles for a book lover.

There's a lot of choices but not so many that you won't know where to start. Pricing can get a bit steep because these are specialty items and often made in small batches.

ProsCons
Many different unique products and designsItems might frequently be backordered

Best 100% Beeswax Scented Candles: Winter Bee Shop

Winter Bee Shop Candles

You might wonder why most candles are not made with beeswax.

It's because beeswax is more expensive to purchase (it being only produced naturally by bees and all) and is seen as cost-prohibitive to many candle companies who have a bottom line.

So, more often than not, most candle makers choose other ingredients or blend beeswax.

However, beeswax is 100% natural, doesn't have to be chemically processed, is biodegradable, has a higher melting point (meaning a longer burn), burns clean, and even purifies the air.

It's considered a carbon-neutral product. And a longer burn actually means, even with the price mark-up it's usually cost-effective for the consumer.

That's what makes Winter Bee Shop so special. All their candles are made with 100% beeswax and hand poured by the owner. It's also one of the few beeswax scented candle brands that have tasteful vessels and made in the U.S.

The scents are all-natural, using only non-toxic perfume oils, and are highly rated online by raving customers.

ProsCons
Made with 100% beeswax and non-toxic fragrance oilsSmall supplier/may be frequently out of stock
Affordable

How We Decided

There are possibly tens of thousands of brands if not more that manufacture scented candles. We tended to favor brands that were easy to find or readily available through well-known marketplaces, although not always the case. The following were our major criteria.

Customer Reviews

Positive, if not rave, reviews were what we were looking for when it came to how customers reacted to these candles. There were reviews pertaining to customers' reactions to the fragrance as well as the burn time, packaging, and their likelihood of repurchasing the product. We also noted candles that garnished positive reviews from other review sites, as well as recommendations from home and beauty experts.

Pricing

While not all of our listed candle brands were cheap or affordable as sometimes customers are willing to splurge for a product that's well worth the money, especially if it's a novelty item or if the proceeds are going to a good cause. However, we did look for as many affordable options as possible.

Fragrance/Design

Looks, not just the perfume, matter when it comes to scented candles. We favored candles with a more sophisticated and complex bouquet as well as clean beautiful aesthetics over the typical Yankee Candle Co-type brand.

Quality Ingredients

When selecting scented candles, vendors, and brands for our list we looked specifically at candle brands that refrained from using widely-available paraffin wax or heavy amounts of it. We also preferred brands that chosee to use essential oils and/or non-toxic fragrance oils as their aromatics.

What Scented Candles Smell the Best?

That naturally depends on your taste, of course.

Higher quality brands tend to test and develop their own perfumes in-house (rather than purchasing stock fragrances) and create more complex formulations.

Some people prefer the scent of essential oils, which is equivalent to the scents you might enjoy with aromatherapy. Others like to experience the aroma of an actual perfume-level smell.

It might be tricky for those adverse to strong smells to find a scented candle that right for them.

Essential Oil Vs. Fragrance Oils in Smell

Essential oils tend to be more subtle than fragrance oils or lose their fragrance more easily over time. That's because essential oils are usually steam distilled and are made of 100% natural components.

Unless otherwise indicated as a blend, essential oils can be purchased as single-ingredient oils.

Fragrance oils are mixtures of both synthetic and natural aromatic ingredients.

They can include essential oils as ingredients but normally include synthetic compounds to enhance the scent as well as improve the shelf-life and stability.

Fragrance oils are usually blends of dozens if not hundreds of different components.

High-End Scented Candles Vs. Drugstore Scented Candles

If you have a favorite perfume from any fashion brand, chances are you could probably get a scented candle version of it. Brand name candles are going to have much more complex bouquets.

Drugstore scented candles or those you could find in a supermarket are usually going to have much simpler smells, which might suit you.

You don't have to get fancy to find a fragrance that you like, nor do you have to spend a lot of money.

Are Scented Candles Bad for You?

Verdict: Maybe. Here are a few things about scented candles that might make people think twice.

Paraffin Wax and the Health Effects

Paraffin wax, which is very commonly used in the industry, comes from petroleum--the same thing that is derived from crude oil and hydrocarbons from fossil fuels found in the earth.

When you burn a candle made of paraffin wax, it releases harmful fumes.

A study from the University of South Carolina found that burning paraffin did produce alkenes and toluene, which can be linked to health issues like asthma and lung cancer, while soy or plant-derived waxes do not produce harmful fumes.

However, to date, there has been no conclusive study that shows burning candles made of paraffin wax does cause any health-related concerns.

If you regularly light scented candles in your home and you suffer from a health condition like asthma, it might be helpful to switch to soy, plant-based wax, or beeswax candles.

Potentially Harmful Ingredients in Fragrance Oils

Another potential danger is burning a scented candle that uses traditional fragrance oils that contain phthalates. Phthalates are common ingredients in many different types of products and one particular kind, DEP (diethyl phthalate), still enjoys widespread use in the fragrance industry.

DEP allows raw materials to dissolve in fragrance mixtures more easily as well as increase the amount of fragrance released when a candle is lit.

Not only that, but it's inexpensive and readily available.

Phthalates are harmful because they are known endocrine disruptors and linked to cancer, fertility issues, and other health problems.

However, it's important to note that some phthalates, including DEP, have been deemed safe for human use by government agencies and by some studies.

Avoiding Harmful Ingredients in Scented Candles is Easy

Whether you agree with the studies or not, finding a completely benign and safe scented candle is easy nowadays.

Many candle makers have heeded the call and are committed to producing high-quality, great-smelling non-toxic candles.

Many candle brands usually list their ingredients or even state their commitment to safe and natural ingredients right on their website.

If you can't find the ingredients on their website, the answer is usually a quick online search away.

The best part is that you don't have to pay more to get better ingredients, so why run the risk?

Are Scented Candles Safe for Dogs and Cats?

Unless your scented candles have an extremely high concentration of essential oils (not likely), a scented candle will do no more harm to a dog or cat than it will to a human.

If you know of any ingredients that your dog or cat is allergic to, make sure you look at the ingredients before buying or lighting.

The worst thing a dog might do is to try and eat the actual candle, which will not likely result in anything but vomiting or diarrhea.

Make sure that you place the candle in a safe place where your pet won't potentially knock it down or burn itself.

Why Use Scented Candles in Your Home?

This is a valid question considering how many options there are to scent your home.

Out of all the possible choices such as air fresheners, room sprays, diffusers, incense, etc., candles can release pure fragrances as long it is lit.

They're also a great choice if you don't want fragrance perpetually disseminating, which is the case with diffusers, plug-ins, and potpourri.

However, they last longer than many other options as burn times are usually for many hours or days.

Pros and Cons of Home Fragrances
TypeProsCons
Reed DiffuserPerpetual scent diffusion throughout space until oil runs out.Refills are sometimes hard to find.
Scented CandleClean fragrance while lit diffused throughout space. Some candles are fragrant without being lit.Some wick maintenance may be needed. Can be a fire hazard if not placed safely.
PotpourriPerpetual scent diffusion.Fragrance will fade. If vessel is knocked over, it can make a mess.
Air freshenerCheap.Usually lasts less than an hour. Scents can be too strong.
Room Perfume SprayCan last for a few hours to days depending on the brand.Scent droplets do not diffuse and must be sprayed evenly around. Smell can fade quickly.
Plug-in fragrancesPerpetual scent diffusion until oils runs out.Uses some electricity/occupies and outlet. Scents can be too strong.
IncenseEven and strong scent diffusion throughout space while lit.Smoky scent. Can be a fire hazard if not placed safely. Ash clean-up.

What Are Scented Candles Made Of?

Scented candles can be as simple as three ingredients or a myriad. The basic components are wax, fragrance, a wick, and a vessel or container.

Types of Waxes Used in Candle-Making

There are actually many types of waxes commercially available and used by candle-makers worldwide.

Paraffin Wax

Paraffin wax as mentioned earlier is the most common type of wax used in the candle industry. It's also the predominant wax used by the biggest name brands... everything from Diptyque to the Yankee Candle Co.

Vegetable Waxes

Soy wax is the biggest alternative to using paraffin wax. It is derived from soy oil and burns clean and longer than paraffin wax. So, although it is usually more expensive, it's a more cost-effective wax because it burns a lot longer.

Coconut wax is another excellent long-burning wax alternative to paraffin wax but usually needs to be blended with other harder waxes since it tends to be soft or set with "bloom".

Palm wax is a vegan wax that has gained lots of popularity because of its unique ability to take on different effects, colors, and textures as well as the view that palm oil is sustainable. However, depending on who you ask, palm oil may not be seen as sustainable as it's responsible for the much deforestation in Southeast Asia,

Beeswax

Beeswax is the "original" wax, produced by bees. It burns cleaner than any other wax alternative with a high melting point.

However, because much available beeswax is yellow, is lightly scented (like honey), and is considered expensive, most candle-makers shy away from beeswax or choose to blend it with waxes.

Gel Wax

Gel wax is mostly comprised of mineral oil (another derivative of crude oil) and some polymer resin. It burns twice as long as paraffin and looks like gel.

It is a trickier substance to work with but some manufacturers use it simply for its burn power or to create visual effects.

Types of Wicks Used By Candle Makers

There are two basic types that are common industry standards: wicks with cores and coreless. The cores or filaments themselves are usually made of zinc, paper, or cotton.

Cores help the wick keep a rigid position throughout the candle. However, coreless wicks are usually braided or weaved to try and achieve a similar rigidity.

A newcomer to the industry is the wooden wick. People like this for the crackle that they may produce when lit.

Depending on the type of wick used, it can affect whether there is smoke produced or not, the melt pool of the wax, release of fragrance, and the need to trim the wick.

How Are Scented Candles Made?

It's actually quite a simple process. There are three steps to a basic preparation that even large manufactures will follow.

Placing the Wick in the Vessel

Wicks need to be affixed in place before a candle is poured so it will dry in a straight line as close to the center as possible to allow for an even burn.

Many small-batch makers use a wooden peg to tie the wick around to achieve this position.

Infusing Fragrance Mixture With Liquid Wax

Whatever the wax medium that is used, it should be heated to a liquid stage.

At this point, the essential oil or fragrance oil blend will be mixed into the wax. Doing this in small batches allows for a quality-controlled product as well as a consistent blend of fragrance.

The Scented Wax is Poured and Set

Artisanal and small-batch candle makers often hand-pour the wax mixture. However, mass-produced scented candles are often made by automated machines in giant factories.

How to Properly Light a Scented Candle

Believe it or not, lighting a candle isn't quite as straightforward and as you'd think.

There is a proper way to light a scented candle, and there is some maintenance required, in order to ensure the full and clean use and enjoyment of your scented candle.

Placing Your Candle

Select a safe place to light your candle. That means keeping it away from any materials that can catch on fire.

Also, be wary of what may sit over your candle; for example, a lit candle might create a burn spot under a shelf or on a wall.

Preparing Your Wick

Wicks need to be trimmed at least 1/4 inch from the surface of the wax.

Trimming your wick helps you create a cleaner and brighter burn.

A cleaner and brighter burn does two things: it creates a nicer and more complete melted pool of wax (which means more fragrance) and reduces soot and debris.

Some people opt to purchase a wick trimmer, which might be worth the small investment if you keep a lot of candles in your home.

It can be challenging to trim your wick in a vessel-housed or thicker candle without a wick trimmer.

Note that wood wicks don't need trimming and some wicks are what are considered "self-trimming" or keep the correct length even after burning.

Lighting Your Scented Candle Correctly for the First Time

Yes. There's actually a proper way to light your scented candle.

It's most important the first time you light the candle to make sure the top layer of the wax melts and pools completely to the glass or sides of the vessel.

This will ensure an even burn every time you light the candle subsequently.

You can rotate the candle periodically to help it melt more evenly around the sides.

If you extinguish the flame before the top is completely liquified, you will create a memory ring.

This means that the candle will melt only in a tunnel to the bottom.

Extinguishing Your Candle

You can just blow it out.

However, if you want to reduce any smoke, you can use a wick dipper.

You use the dipper to drop the wick into the wax to extinguish. This kills the smoke.

Use a candle snuffer to put out tapered and pillar candles or any candles that don't have a pool of melted wax to drop the wick into.

Dos and Don'ts of Candle Care
DosDon'ts
Trim your wick, as neededLeave a lit candle unattended
Melt top layer evenly the first timeBurn a candle for more than 4 hours
Use long matches or oven light for candles getting lowLight candle in a place near fire hazards
Enjoy the fragrance!