10 best winter candles
Cosy up in the colder months and fill your home with a warming seasonal fragrance
As much as we love fresh linen scents, the winter months call for something a little more cosy and enveloping. We suggest you look for notes such as frankincense, patchouli, leather, ginger, amber, pine, smoke and anything woody, rather than the predictable combo of orange and cinnamon. A blend of such notes can be anything from heady and warming (think night by the fire) to fresh and brisk (think forest of pine trees), so there should be something in our list to please everyone.
A lot of candles (sadly, usually cheaper ones) smell great when you hold them to your nose in the shop, but do little to change the scent of the room once you burn them at home. We’ve picked these not only because we love their scents, but because they scored top marks for potency, which equals good 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 these burn for around 40 hours, some as many as 60.
Diptyque Sapin de Lumière: £30, Harrods
Of all the candles we’ve burned in the process of testing, this strikes the best balance between being inherently Christmassy without being too heady and stifling. Notes of Siberian pine, Canadian fir balsam and cedar will have your house smelling like a glade of fir trees: light, fresh and yet unarguably festive. Plus, the decadent green jar is better than any bauble.
Evermore North Scented Candle: £19, notonthehighstreet.com
There's something creamy about the scent of this candle – it smells like something you might want to rub on your body, in a really good way. Its list of notes is a Christmas dream: frankincense, patchouli and myrrh. The result is woody, rich and relaxing. We'll be pairing it with a bath.
Skandinavisk Trae Candle: £32.90, finnishdesignshop.com
If you're going to trust anyone for a winter scent, the Danes, creators of both hygge and Skandinavisk, are a safe bet. Trae, which means, you guessed it, tree, is a new launch from the brand for winter 2018 and has a fairly brisk, fresh scent with a pine note to keep it warm. We're suckers for Skandinavisk's matte glass jars and wood lids, too.
Laboratory Perfumes Amber Scented Candle: £45, Conran Shop
Amber was the first scent created by Laboratory Perfumes, and it’s much fresher and livelier than the warmth of its eponymous top note suggests thanks to scents of grassiness and light spice. It’s like they've distilled a blustery coastal walk and warming up with a cuppa afterwards into a candle, if, indeed, that were possible. We love its minimalist chemistry beaker-style glass jar, too.
Le Labo Santal 26: £52, Selfridges
Reportedly the Duchess of Sussex’s favoured candle brand, Le Labo offers hand-poured numbers in clear glass jars with very chic minimalist packaging. Sandal 26 is a soft smoky, leathery fragrance that still manages to fill a room long after the wick has been extinguished. Each candle is marked with when, where and by whom it was poured, and you can add the name of whoever is receiving it (yourself or a giftee), too.
D.S & Durga Portable Fireplace Scented Candle: £58, osmology.co
Cult Brooklyn-based perfume makers D S & Durga aim to create fragrance that conjure an experience, not just a pretty scent. Portable Fireplace is all the best bits of a bonfire – smokey, woody and warm – without the stale-smoke-on-your-clothes part or the ash clear-up afterwards. Ideal for creating snugly-winter-nights-by-the-open-fire vibes for those who don’t have a fireplace.
Bella Freud Starry Starry Nights Candle: £48, johnlewis.com
This packaging was made for advent, evoking all your fondest memories of school nativity plays and/or country nights where the sky is clear and the stars bright. The scent is dark and cosy, with frankincense, cedar wood, tobacco flower, nutmeg and ginger – essentially a winter fragrance checklist of ingredients. Bonus: it’s much more affordable than the fash pack’s favourite Bella Freud merino jumpers.
Byredo Chai Candle: £54, Liberty
This candle was inspired by brand founder Ben Gorham’s childhood trips to India (his mother is Indian), and has the spiciness and the comforting creaminess that you'd expect by a scent called ‘Chai’. Delicious. Plus, we are never not swayed by Byredo’s minimalist and chic black and white packaging.
Sun-Day IV Sous Les Couvertures: £26, sundayoflondon.com
‘Sous Les Couvertures’ translates as ‘under the covers’ – and no, not like that. It’s inspired by lazy mornings and duvet days when the house is just too cold and the bed just too warm and cozy to leave. It does so with a combination of musky, calming vanilla and enlivening peppermint and citrus notes. The brown glass jars are 100 per cent worth keeping and using with tea lights when you’ve burned this right down.
Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir Home Candle: £47, jomalone.co.uk
This scent has become such a classic it’s easy to overlook it. The fruitiness of pomegranate, raspberry and plum are balanced by the sensuous, heady notes of floral Casablanca lily and smoky guaiacwood (we’re not really sure what that is either). Luxurious and welcoming, it can’t fail.
Verdict: Best winter candles
For a dose of pure Christmas and the perfect balance between comfort and freshness, Diptyque wins out.
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.
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