As the short, dark days of winter lift, it’s time to shelve the warm, heady, enveloping scents of patchouli, orange and amber and pick something fresher, lighter and enlivening; the candle equivalent of a bracing coastal walk to blow the cobwebs away.

A lot of candles – often, but not always, cheaper ones – smell great when you give them a sniff in the shop but aren’t powerfully fragranced enough to fill your home when lit.

As well as boasting great scents, our picks are potent, too, meaning you don’t need to burn them for as long to release the scent, making them better value for money.

If black smoke discolours the inside of your candle jar, it’s because you need to trim the wick a few millimetres between burnings.

To stop the candle burning down unevenly, leaving wax up the sides, burn it until all the wax has melted into a pool across the top; two-four hours is usually optimum for an even burn and great scent.

All of our picks burn for around 40 hours; some for as many as 60.

Skandinavisk hav: £29, Skandinavisk

HAV was one of the first scented candles that Scandinavian brand Skandinavisk created and it has recently been given a deeper, more complex scent-update for 2019. It’s a brisk, glassy cold and salty fragrance, with notes of rose and hawthorn, inspired by the Scandinavian coastline. The frosted glass jar comes with a wooden lid, which stops the wax getting dusty when not in use. While you’re at it, the range now also includes a Flaxseed Body Scrub (£23) that is both an effective exfoliant and nourishing and smells equally divine.

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DS & Durga Big Sur after rain: £60, Osmology

The Brooklyn-based perfume brand takes a fresh and creative approach to scent, designing fragrances that evoke strong memories or impressions. The result is candles unlike anything else we’ve seen: try portable fireplace (like all the best bits of a smoky bonfire), tomb of the eagles (inspired by the ancient cliff-top sites of Orkney) and our pick for spring, Big Sur after rain. Its full-bodied, wet, eucalyptus scent conjures images of driving along the Californian coastline, warm sun on your face following a downpour.

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Muji large tin candle jasmine and olive: £7.95, Muji

Muji’s candles are some of the few at a budget price-point that hold their own among the more luxury brands for potency and this little tin fills a room with a firm but not overpowering scent just minutes after lighting. Elegant floral jasmine is paired with green, slightly woody olive. This burns for a slightly shorter time than the other, more expensive candles we’ve picked, at around 30 hours.

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Laboratory Perfumes samphire scented candle: £45, Laboratory Perfumes

This is a brisk walk in the English countryside in candle form. The body of the fragrance comes from lavender, rosemary and basil, with a hint of spice from juniper and amber and oak moss at the base. It’s a beautifully balanced subtle, serene, outdoorsy scent. It comes with a thin cork coaster to protect the surface under your candle while burning.

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Boy Smells LES: £32, Osmology

Don’t be put off by the images of unwashed clothes and dirty plates that the words “boy smells” might bring to mind: this Los Angeles-founded brand is all about creating scents that are neither masculine nor feminine. LES is the perfect example, as it’s named after the French plural article that’s used for both men and women. It smells fruity and ripe, with blackcurrants and peach blossom, plus cardamom and cedar for warmth. The black and millennial pink packaging will look great on your coffee table too.

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Jo Malone London lime basil and mandarin: £47, John Lewis & Partners

The luxury fragrance house’s signature scent is somehow at once uplifting and relaxing, with zingy citrus, peppery basil and warm wood rounding it off. Of all the candles we tested, this rated top for how long the scent lingered after we’d extinguished the flame – you could even smell it in the hallway outside our front door.

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Kiss the Moon glow: £38, Kiss the Moon

Kiss the Moon was founded in the English countryside and its products are all designed to aid sleep. Glow is a restorative, happy, warm scent, perfect for winding down or having a quiet night in. Orange, litsea (a citrus shrub used in Chinese medicine to “calm the mind and spirit”) and geranium combine into a spa-like but not overly heady or cloying fragrance.

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Byredo Cotton Poplin: £54, Space NK

Our favourite spring scents are bright and crisp, evocative of freshly washed linen, so a candle with “cotton” in the title was always going to be a winner. Byredo’s cotton poplin is a simple, delicate fragrance with notes of blue chamomile, linen and cedarwood; perfect for lighting during the brief calm of a weekend morning. We love the visual aspect of the wax and wick matching the black jar, too.

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Diptyque lys and narguilé duo: £94, Diptyque

We’ve never quite been sure about whether burning more than one scented candle at once was acceptable behaviour, but the latest launches from Parisian brand Diptyque can be bought separately (£47 each) or as a pair, as they’re designed to complement each other and create a more complex scent. Lys is a green, leafy fragrance with a heady lily scent, while narguilé’s honey and spices have a more exotic air. Together they call to mind far-flung, balmy summer nights that will have you booking a holiday in no time.

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Fresh Hesperides grapefruit candle: £45, Fresh

This, from the Boston-founded skincare brand, has a refreshing, lively and slightly sweet scent, that sticks around long after you’ve blown the candle out. It features a whole citrus family – lemon, bergamot, tangerine and orange – surrounding the core note of grapefruit, for a refreshing, rounded fragrance.

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The verdict: candles for spring

For its midrange price and brisk, salty and strangely addictive fragrance, Skandinavisk’s hav is just what you need to lift you out of winter hibernation.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.