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Scented candles: Sniff, buy what makes you happy

Scented candles: Sniff, buy what makes you happy

Scented candles can help set a mood just as effectively as music, lighting, color and interior design. All you need is a match to spark the magic. But how do you go about buying scented candles?

“What will make me happy?” suggests Tim Rossi, director of communications and public relations for Nest Fragrances in New York. Find out which “fragrance family” suits you best — citrus, floral, gourmand for example — and zero in, said the self-described “citrus guy.” Rossi recommends you sniff a candle both unlit and lit in judging the fragrance; your opinion might change.

“A scented candle is like a personal fragrance. It is, of course, personal,’’ said Mary Wallace, North American marketing director for Diptyque, the Paris-based luxury goods company. She recommends you visit the store in person to smell for yourself.

Given a scented candle, like a personal fragrance, can be expensive, the points made by Rossi and Wallace are good to remember. Makers justify their prices by pointing to what’s in the candles.

“The more elaborate the vessel, the more expensive the candle. But even simple vessels can house expensive candles — as quality fragrances are usually expensive to produce,’’ wrote Andrew Goetz, co-founder of New York-based Malin+Goetz apothecary and lab, in an email forwarded by his publicist. “High-quality wax and cotton wicks will also add to the expense. Lastly, if candles are hand poured in an artisanal manner — this, too, will drive up the cost of producing a great quality candle.”

Scents, like almost everything, have their moments in the sun. What are the hot fragrances right now?

“I think we are seeing a lot of interest in floral inspired scents at the moment, but with a modern interpretation,” wrote Goetz, who pointed to the company’s Otto candle. “It’s a rose at heart, but we’ve added noted of grapefruit and cardamom, along with some greenness coming from geranium, oak moss and vetiver, notes not traditionally associated with a traditional rose.”

Wallace said a hot summer had consumers “pushing” the fall season by purchasing more autumnal scents. Feu de Bois (wood fire), Santal (sandalwood) and savory Vanille have been popular.

Should you burn more than one fragrance simultaneously?

“Absolutely, you can layer them or mix them,” replied Wallace, suggesting a floral candle and something with a woodier scent profile. Roses with Feu de Bois, for instance, would create a beautiful warm aroma, he said.

At Malin+Goetz, the answer also would be yes, as the company’s website encourages customers to burn the Mojito and Dark Rum candles at the same time.

“I’m all for mixing and matching complementary scents,” Goetz wrote. “Mixing candles can really create a dynamic and editorialized experience.”

As for burning scented candles during dinner — don’t (usually).

Rossi, in a follow-up email, wrote that scented candles would “interfere with the dining experience” because the senses of taste and smell are linked.

“Burning our Pumpkin Chai candle at the dinner table, for example, while serving salmon will totally confuse one’s senses. The candle won’t smell right, and the fish won’t taste right.”

Still, Rossi did note that a “lightly scented” candle with “herb notes” (think wild tarragon, he suggested, or “hints” of thyme, rosemary and sage) can “actually enhance a dining experience. Otherwise, unscented is the way to go.”


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