What is a good quality candle?
(Scented) candles are extremely popular for a good reason, but how do you choose among all the brands on the market? The first step might be to choose a good quality candle! You want to know what you pay for and you have the right to expect the highest standard form product you buy. But how do you know if the candle is worth its price?
In this article, I’ll tell you how to recognize a good quality candle. Let’s start from the basics.
How to recognize the quality of a candle
Here is a general list of things that you should pay attention to when choosing a candle:
- type of wax used
- type of wick
- type of fragrance
- traceable resources & safety standards
- ethical & eco-friendly approach
- scent throw
- burn quality
- label and safety warnings
- usage and care instructions
It may seem a lot, but at the end of the day it all comes to some simple knowledge, and once you know it, you know it forever. The more of the points from the list above will meet the expectations, the better. Actually, they should all go together.
But first, a side note:
Are cheap candles bad?
Yes. There are plenty of cheap scented candles on the market. It may be obvious, but it’s worth mentioning: cheap candles are never good quality products. Mass production with cheap, chemical subproducts, often from unknown resources, and very often manufactured by underpaid people in an abusive environment. Moreover, because of the overuse of chemicals, synthetics, and artificial subproducts, cheap candles emit toxic fumes and carcinogens. They’re harmful to your health (they can cause allergies and lung diseases) and the planet. The only people who really profit from them are big corporation owners.
A good quality candle can not be too cheap because it implies that the ingredients used to make it must be of poor standard.
What are the qualities of a good candle?
Now let’s have a brief look at all the points from the list. When you want to recognize the quality of the candle, you should take all these into account.
- type of wax – what kind of wax does the company use in the candle: paraffin, bee wax, soy (or another plant-based) wax, or maybe a blend? If you look at the label and see merely information “wax blend” then you probably should not buy it. Who knows what’s really in it? If you’re looking for a high-quality candle, you will pass on paraffin candles. Yes, they are cheap and you can get them even in the supermarket. But this is not good at all. Read our article on the differences between paraffin and soy wax to learn more. The best candles are those made of plant-based wax, like soy wax, because they’re ethical (vegan and cruelty-free) and have a less negative impact on the environment, but also because they’re not harmful to your health and simply smell better.
- type of wick – in general, there are two most popular types of wicks: made of cotton and made of wood. The type and size of wick used in a particular candle can be crucial for its performance. The ones to avoid are wired wicks from mass production, as they contain various micro metals, a.o. zink. This is to make the wicks more stiff and straight, but it’s just unhealthy and unnecessary. The best wicks are hand-made cotton wicks, with organic cotton from ethical resources. Wooden wicks are eco-friendly as well, but the flame is sometimes difficult to maintain. Read our article about wooden wicks to learn more.
- type of fragrance – scented candles can be made with the use of essential oils, fragrance oils, and synthetic perfume. While essential oils are 100% natural and plant-derived, they tend to be very expensive. There’s only a certain number of fragrances possible to extract this way. Fragrance oils contain both natural and synthetic ingredients. Synthetic perfumes are artificially created with the use of chemicals; this way is the cheapest way to create an imitation of basically any scent. Even though your first choice might be essential oils, it’s worth noticing that they often have quite a poor scent throw. Fragrance oils tend to smell best. They are prepared specially to bond with wax in the most optimal way and have the best scent throw. The best smelling candles will usually be soy candles containing a mix of essential and fragrance oils. Read our article about the differences between essential and fragrance oils to learn more.
- traceable resources & safety standards – it is good to know where the products you use come from. Candle manufacturers can get their supplies from plenty of different wholesalers and it’s good when it’s possible to trace them. With most products, there are certain safety regulations that have to be met. Like with fragrances in candles. Every fragrance oil must have an IFRA certificate which states what it can be safely used for. The certificate ensures that the fragrance was manufactured in a process compliant with the industry standards. Additionally, it’s good to know if the fragrances and other ingredients of your candle are vegan and cruelty-free if they come from fair-trade companies, etc. For example, in the case of soy wax, it’s important to check if it is GMO-free. To ensure the best quality, in Candle Time we use only 100% GMO-free soy wax manufactured in Europe.
- ethical & eco-friendly approach – similarly as above, a general ethical approach of the brand counts a lot. Why would you like to deal with a company which abuses human labor or lets animals suffer for a product if there are so many ethical, kind, local makers who care and want to make a difference? There are plenty of vegan and cruelty-free brands with planet-friendly attitude and plastic-free packaging. They collaborate with fair-trade, eco companies, and take big care of the high standard of their products.
- scent throw – obviously this is a very important thing in a scented candle: a perfect scent throw. You can recognize a good quality candle from its scent. It’s all about the balanced fragrance release. You may think that the stronger scent the better, but it’s not exactly like that. Strong fragrance may give you headaches and nausea; it can also make you tired. Best scented candles smell just right. They release fragrance slowly and in a balanced way. It is easily noticeable, but it’s not overpowering, not dominating. It should keep on hanging in the air for a while after you blow the candle off.
- burn quality – it’s crucial for a candle performance. Good burn quality means that the wick has a proper size to the diameter of a candle and gives a nice, calm flame, which is not too high or jumpy. The wax should melt all the way to the edges, leaving the walls of the container clean. A candle should burn slowly and calmly, and the flame should not produce smoke. Note: don’t forget to trim the wick before each burn! If you don’t keep wicks short, you can’t blame the candle company for poor burn quality.
- labels & safety warnings – each candle label should state the most important information about the product. Besides the company name, it should give the type of wax used, estimated burn time, and scent. Every candle should also have a safety warnings sticker with basic safety info.
- use & care instructions – separate candle care & safety instructions are also a good addition. This way customers know how to get the best out of the candles and enjoy them most.
- design – it is obvious that the look of the product and the brand’s image is essential. You’re not going to buy something you don’t like or can’t imagine on your shelf. The more neutral and simplified the look, the better, because it will make it easier to match in most of the interiors. High-class luxurious candles tend to have a minimalistic, hip design.
- creators – who are the people behind your candles? Small to middle-sized companies tend to care most about the quality of their products and the customers. They have a more personal touch because they don’t lose it in a mass production process. Like in Candle Time, which consists of only two people; you can always reach out for a personal advice or special orders.
We hope that this article will help you to recognize a good quality candle on a broad candle market. Your daily choices really matter, so choose smart!