I am a serious candle nerd but a serious scent snob. Blame it on a hypersensitive nose inherited from my mother. For years I avoided scented candles because they smelled so…cheap. You know, the type that just smacks you in the face yelling VANILLA! VANILLA! COCONUT! ROSE! Urgh.
So when I finally plunged in to the world of home fragrances I dove right into the deep end with British brands like Neom and Jo Malone, or the stunning French brand Cire Trudon. Of course there are more affordable, local brands out there, but scent much like fashion can suffer from the trend train. The truth for me is that I usually don’t like most of the trendy scents available right now, hence my rather slavish loyalty to overseas and European brands that focus on very traditional blends of essential oils, or attempt to evoke a memory/time in history.
A good candle is like a good perfume – highly subjective, but a direct reflection of how you’re feeling on a given day. Most of the time I do actually go candle free, but when the mood strikes me (and I can be a moody cow) then I’ll burn something that just enhances that mood, be it energetically inspired, searingly productive, indifferently dazed, or calmly mellow. Here are a few candles that I own and the times that I burn them:
Lavender is well overused when it comes to smells that aid the sleep, but there’s something about that purple toned flower (part of the mint family) that is unequivocally soporific. My collection includes the Deep Sleep candle from This Works, which uniquely combines lavender with vetiver (dried reeds, think of the smell of a rattan basket) and chamomile, producing quite a dry smelling, unsweet but still mellowing haze. Neom’s Tranquility option goes for the more conventional pairing of english lavender with a perfumed flower (jasmine) and a bit of greenery (sweet basil) to counter the overall effects and stop the olfactory cliff fall into sickening territory.
While I wouldn’t go so far as to demand a Dettol candle (don’t snicker, there are a healthy number out there who do), when I want to feel awake and alert I’ll burn something decidedly green. Cire Trudon’s Dada is about as green as you can get, the main notes including eucalyptus, tea, vetiver, and mint. The official description on the website is confounding and really doesn’t mean much to the average reader (…confuses the mind…opens us…to the artistic dizziness and surrealist experiences), but the smell certainly doesn’t leave me feeling confused at all (heartbreakingly, this scent has been discontinued for the Australian market). Hitting the nail on the head, Neom actually has a candle called Focus The Mind, and relies on greens and woods to keep you awake. The combination of pine, cedarwood and eucalyptus is heavier on the woody notes than Dada, but there is still enough green to keep the scent light and avoid becoming too lumbering and resiny. There is an appropriate hint of smoke present too, only enhanced when you actually burn the candle.
Mellow and orderly
Abd El Kader by Cire Trudon is something that truly feels like it’s been blown down from the mountains on a gust of wind, being simultaneously organic, wild, wet, and sweet. It’s described as Morrocon mint tea (a widely travelled friend adamantly agreed with this description, saying it took her immediately back to the aforementioned country). To some people this scent keeps them focussed but for me I just get into such a good, almost “hey brooo” kind of mood. The mint is tempered with a bit of sweetness in the form of blackcurrent bud and apple, so you feel less like fresh cut grass (which makes me gag) and more delicious iced tea.
Since I’m fairly ignorant on what’s available in the local market, are there any Australian or Tasmanian brands you would recommend or that you love? How about scents that kick the trends?