Candle advice to live by
So, you’re wanting to warm up the vibe of your room a little. Or, you’re feeling a bit spenny this month, and want to splash out on something luxe. You’ve had a long day. You’re trying to cover the smell of cat litter. You just want to feel better. What do you do? Yeah, you know where this is going! This is the piece of writing that I have always wanted to push onto readers, for years now.
Uh huh - I’m going to tell you everything that you need to know about the CANDLE BIZ, YO!!!
Everyone works in some random job as a teen - yes, I got politely moved on from a pet supplies role when I was 15, that’s correct - but I was luckily to land in homewares. Catch me always looking at vases and other random shit, so it made sense. We all remember training in our specific areas: learning about how to make the perfect zinger burgers, or soft serves, or Boost’s Superfruit Smoothie, and mine just happened to be intense education around candle production, maintenance, and - of course - how to sell them to every possible sector of middle-aged women.
I genuinely loved my job - sure, I swept wax flakes off the floor every night and actually lost my sense of smell for around 3 years - but what moved me was just how popular candles are, and how many people don’t know how to use them.
Chances are, you’ve wasted a hell of a lot of money, wax, great glass jars, wicks and time as you’ve gone through candles.
1. You’re burning it wrong! Sorry but it’s true!
There is one initial mistake that everyone makes with candles. You know how when you paint your nails, you know that you have to structure your day around it? Same with a candle. When you light a candle for the first time, you gotta let it burn long enough to reach the very edges of its container. Every time after that, it will burn straight down, instead of ‘tunnelling’ and leaving large parts of the wax untouched (by the Veronicas, obviously). So don’t blow it out on that first burn too early, otherwise it’s game over.
2. Keep your wicks about you…
On that first burn, light the wick as it comes, but every time you light it after that, you gotta cut it down. So when it does that thing where the top of the wick gets bulbous (we call that ‘mushrooming’ in the know), you have to cut it - because a longer wick means a bigger flame, which burns the candle...faster. You’re not getting your money’s worth sheeple! Open your eyes! Also you can just use scissors to cut down the wick, but only take a few mms off, otherwise when it’s lit, the wet wax will ‘drown’ a too-short wick.
3. Don’t throw your jars out, for God’s sake.
So often, when you get to the bottom of a jar, you just end up with that weird metal thing that attaches the wick to the bottom, and a gross inch of immovable wax - you try to dig it out with a knife (no? Just me?), or burning it, and yourself in the process. The actual way to clean out your jar is to fill it with boiling water, and let it sit. You might have to do this a few times, but eventually the wax will lift, and just wipe it out with a cloth. Then use them as handy and aesthetic upcycled bathroom containers - cotton buds, Glossier tubes...you name it.
4. Different scents are for different seasons.
Candles are just like perfumes and clothes - they should be considered in a wider, seasonal context. You have your stalwart scents that are perfect year-round, but you should consider what you’re looking for, during different times of the year. For example, bright florals are typical for Spring, while summer looks more like vanilla, coconuts, and creamier, holiday-esque smells. During Autumn and Winter, comforting and warm notes, such as woodsy, deeper earthy bergamots and blackcurrants, wrap themselves around your nose and hopefully your soul. You can pair scents, so that they burn in harmony, but you also should be careful of clashing smells that can confuse the room and cause your head to ache.
Proposed assistance for mental health struggles range from therapy, medication and counselling, to more individual pursuits, billed often as 'self-care,' which itself can be a problematic framework, when we consider that most of those methods cost money and play into a capitalistic ideal of what 'healthy' looks like.
However, something that comes up a lot and is put forward as a method of looking after yourself, is the act of burning a candle. I’m not going to sit here and say that candles and cure should be used in the same sentence, but the flame, paired with a calming scent, does help to relax and focus the body and mind (for me, I find - can't speak for anyone else!). I always have one burning while writing, to aid concentration, and I find that they are a great way to impart warmth and personality into a previously barren and cold space.
CURRENTLY BURNING: Burning a Pecksniff's from TK Maxx. Freesia and Poppy - don't love it, but suits the sunny weather at the moment.
NEXT BURN: Sun Lotion, by Anya Hindmarch. Super excited for this one - very summery, with Italian bergamot, Sicilian lemon, orange flowers...pretty much the beach.
PREVIOUS BURN: Ooooh - it was 30 Montaigne by Dior (it was a gift!). Phenomenal for winter, with fresh pine tones.
ALL-TIME FAVES: Amalfi Coast (now called Lost In Amalfi) by Glasshouse, which makes me think of my best friend who also loves the scent. I also find that the simple Vanilla Bean by Ecoya is a winner - but I am a sucker for destination-themed smells, like these ones by Lola James Harper.
RANDOM FACT: To clear your nose when smelling candles, you should sniff coffee beans, provided by the store - that’s one way to see how seriously a business takes their scents. Not as seriously as I do, clearly.