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You're Probably Making This Common Candle Mistake (Plus My Favorite Scents)

And the candles I pull out each spring.
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If there's any story that accurately illustrates my relationship with candles, it's what happened a few months ago: It was Saturday morning and I'd just cleaned the kitchen and lit a candle when Geoffrey came in to ask if I wanted to go to brunch. When I responded that I wasn't interested, he was instantly suspicious (I've never been one to turn down brunch), and I had to admit to the real reason I couldn't join him: I'd just lit a candle a few minutes ago, and couldn't blow it out before it had time to burn for a proper amount of time—two hours, or as long as it takes for the wax to melt all the way to the edge. Priorities. 

From the moment I received my first paycheck as a camp counselor at 15, I've been buying candles. My tastes have changed a lot in the past two decades, but my dedication to always having plenty of options readily available has only intensified. Since owning and burning nice candles is an investment, I've shared a few of my favorites, the tools that help keep them in the best shape, and tips for extending their lives as long as possible:

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Trim the wick

The first thing to do once you open-up a new candle is trim the wick. It should be about 1/8" high—any higher means that you'll have a large, flickering flame that creates soot around the side of the candle. Keeping it short means you'll have more control of the flame, therefore keeping the candle clean. (I use this wick trimmer, which is pretty enough to leave out by candles on a countertop.)

Burn for a while

I'm religious about burning my candles for at least two hours at a time since it helps the wax melt all the way to the edge, meaning you'll get a lot more use out of it—an important step I notice most people disregard. If you only let it burn for 30 minutes, creating a small ring in the middle, the next time you light the candle, it will only expand to that little area, resulting in a much smaller candle. 

Use a candle snuffer

I used to think candle snuffers were random, archaic items that nobody actually used. But if you've ever had a candle burning for hours, resulting in a beautiful aroma wafting throughout the house, only to blow it out resulting in a smoke-filled area, you know what a bummer that is. Instead, use a candle snuff. Not only will it make you feel ladylike and refined (maybe that's just me?), but it puts out the flame instantly so that you're left with whatever scent you'd been burning that can linger for a while. I have a flea market find I found in the kitchen, but like the look of this modern option—or this gold set, which includes a wick trimmer. 

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Re-use the jar

I'm a big fan of repurposing candles, even after they've been used up. I'm sure there are much more glamorous ways of doing this, but I'll scrape out whatever remaining wax is inside, add boiling soapy water, and then let it sit. Once you get it completely cleaned out, you're able to use the vessels for things like bobby pins, pens, or my favorite: makeup brushes.

Burn different scents based on the time of year

In the same way you wouldn't wear your most intense, headiest perfume in the middle of summer, apply the same logic with the scents you burn at home. In fall and winter, I prefer woodsy, pine, tobacco notes and transition to lighter florals in spring and summer. Not only is it a nice way to delineate the time of year, but it also gets me excited anytime it's time to retire one scent and pull out the next. 

Favorite scent for fall: Maison Louie Marie No. 4 (sandalwood and vetiver, and just $34). Also adore Le Labo's Cade 26 (t's like their famous Santal scent, but smokier and sexier).
Favorite scent for winter: Thymes Frasier Fir (smells like you're walking through an actual pine forest, just $28). Also love the Diptyque holiday collections that come out each year.
Favorite scent for spring: Overose Valkiria (I literally hoarded this candle in my carry-on when I came back from Paris last year it's so good, then was thrilled when we launched them on the Shop! It's a light peach and fig scent that feels fresh).
Favorite scent for summer: Le Labo Petit Grain 21 (the prettiest orange blossom).
Candle I've Re-bought the Most Times: Diptyque Feu de Bois. Even though this scent is arguably best in fall since it smells like a campfire, it always works. In summer, I'll even burn another candle at the same time that's a lot sweeter (like a rose or jasmine) for a nice balance.
Favorite splurge-worthy scent: Byredo Woods. The packaging is so sleek and the fragrance is woodsy, leathery and with jasmine overtones. It smells like the outdoors after the rain.
Favorite candle under $35: Boy Smells 'Cedar Stack,' and Voluspa  'Mokara'
Favorite candle to give as a gift: Jenni Kayne votive gift set
Must-have candle accessories: Candle snuffer and wick trimmer (I like this set which includes both, and also comes in matte black)

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