When the colder weather arrives with the inevitable early darkness, it is a natural cue that it is time to settle down and snuggle in.
As your family begins to hibernate this year, try lighting candles to add warmth to your home.
While they are a simple enhancement, there’s a few things to know.
If you are new to the candle world, you might be intimidated by shop aisles chock full of candles.
One of the biggest distinctions you’ll notice on labels is if it is made with soy or not.
“Soy candles are a more natural, clean-burning alternative to traditional paraffin, a petroleum-based by-product,” says Tracie Van Dorpe of the soon to be launched Eastern Shore Candle Company. “While there has been much industry and consumer debate over the past few years regarding paraffin and use in candles, studies have been inconclusive. Still, many have turned to natural wax alternatives to ensure a more clean-burning experience in their homes.”
There are also soy hybrids like the coconut-soy wax blend that Dorpe’s local and luxury line uses.
The soy creates a cleaner burning while adding the coconut helps overall performance to be longer lasting and with better fragrance strength.
Another term you might hear is “hot throw,” which refers to the size of candle and amount of fragrance oil, a ratio that can differ widely across brands.
For larger rooms, Dorpe says you’ll want a candle known for a strong throw to adequately “fill” it with scent.
If you have a more sensitive nose, however, you might prefer a lighter throw.
After narrowing down the type of candle, many people enjoy popping tops off to take a sniff on the hunt for the perfect scent, a joy that starts with the makers themselves.
“There is a science to blending candles scents that is creative and fun,” Dorpe says. “There are designated categories of fragrance and a fragrance wheel, similar to a color wheel, that guides what fragrance types work together best, but that’s only the beginning. When ESCC creates a fragrance, we start with an idea, a memory, a setting. We envision what an olfactory experience tied to that setting would be. Then we start blending from hundreds of base scents — pine, honeysuckle, clove, salt, apple, grapefruit, and create a candle story that fills the senses and connects us to a moment, place or feeling.”
When it comes to scents in your home, think about the feeling you want to portray in your rooms.
Light and airy scents for your bright kitchen or sunny sitting areas would be perfect while you might go with something richer in your den.
And, yes, the same room can have a morning scent and an evening scent as you transition from morning breakfast with the kids to a wine and steak night.
You can also experiment with already curated candles on your own by burning more than one candle at a time, creating a custom bouquet of scent.
Some combinations, Dorpe suggests, are lavender with pine, or citrus or vanilla make great compliments to a bevvy of other scents.
Are you not even sure where to light candles? Take note of where you and your family naturally gather.
Light one on your kitchen island if everyone tends to gather around for a snack and homework time or light one in the TV or game room if the crowd ends up unwinding there.
Have a night to yourself? Light one to cozy into a good book.
Or, truth be told, a candle can even make social media scrolling on the couch have more ambiance.
Candles can also set the atmosphere for welcoming guests into your home.
Light one in your entry to welcome guests or decorate your dining table with lightly scented tea lights.
To truly make guests think you’ve thought of everything, try a clean scented candle in your bathroom.
Though they are simple touches, the act of lighting a candle can show your guests you are excited to see them and want to make them feel at home in your home.
To incorporate candles in your home with an easy flick of the wrist, leave matches or a lighter at each candle spot. The easier you make them to light, the more you will do it.
Take care of your candle with an occasional trim of the wick down to about an eighth- to a quarter-inch to ensure a clean and bright burn. Nail trimmers are great for reaching in to clip the wick.
You may have noticed a tunnel forming in your candle before.
That could be from lighting for too short of a time period.
True candle fanatics allow their candles to burn until wax melts completely across the top layer of the candle, rather than in the small pool that will eventually form the tunnel.
When a candle has officially done its duty lighting your home, empty the jar easily for repurposing by simply sticking it in the freezer.
A few hours later, the leftover wax should pry out gently with a butter knife.