Sniffed and Approved: Our Complete Guide to Fall’s Best Candles

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There’s nothing I love more than a good scentscape. Since working from home, getting a good burn on has really filled that void of getting to see (and smell) everything a season has to offer. And we all know that a fall candle is the absolute peak candle experience. There is just something about this season of scents: sharp, spice-laced cinnamon; frosty, ice-tipped fir; that sexy kick of cedar. Read on for the candles our editors can’t stop lighting on fire—from our budget-friendly faves to splurge-worthy scent masterpieces.

 

How to Make Your Candles Last Longer

Whether it’s a Hearth & Hand candle you spent $15 on or a $70 Diptyque splurge, candles are literally watching our money burn away. If you want the best experience, you have to take care of them. These tricks will make your candle burn longer and better and will keep you safe. Here are my biggest tips to the best burn: 

 

Always trim your wick

If you notice your candle has what is often called a “mushroom top” on the wick, little pieces of the burned wick will fall into your candle, making it cloudy and significantly less pretty when it’s sitting on your shelf. It also lowers the flame, which prevents soot from forming on the top of the candle (not a good look) and is just a fire hazard. Also, it lowers the burn time of your candle because it can cause tunneling. Which brings me to …

 

The first time you burn, let the candle burn evenly

This might take a while, and every candle is different (I’ve had candles burn evenly after two hours, but some have taken up to five or six). If you start your candle with a giant tunnel (AKA your candle has only burned through the middle and isn’t an even layer of melted wax), it’s difficult to make sure all of that wax burns evenly in the future. When your candle tunnels, you can’t make use of all of that wax, meaning you’re burning your candle down faster which also means you’re burning your literal dollar bills too.

 

If the candle does start to tunnel, use aluminum foil around the edges to keep the heat circling the candle

Basically, you’ll wrap a piece of aluminum foil around the top and pinch it in to keep the heat in one space. You can also get a candle warmer which will heat the wax evenly from the bottom. This is a good option if you’re noticing a lot of tunneling, but can take a really long time to burn completely. 

 

Once your candle is burned all the way down, pop out the wax and use the jar for decoration

I’ve done this by creating a double-boiler on my stove to heat up the wax and pour it out, but my favorite way is by popping the candle in the freezer. The wax will freeze and should pop out or you can crack it, and it’ll come out in a couple of pieces. Never put it your candle in the microwave because the wick is usually sitting on a piece of metal, and we all know what happens there. To remove any soot or excess candle wax on the edges, use some dish soap and warm water on a washcloth. It’ll take a second, but it comes right up.

Amazon

Candle Accessory Kit

This set includes a wick trimmer (you can use scissors, but when the candle burns down too low, this is essential), a snuffer (blows out the flame safely), and a wick dipper (keeps the wick in the right place—ever have a wick dip and dry below the wax? not fun!).

Alexandra Winbush

Wick Trimmer

This rose gold wick trimmer from Black-owned candle line Alexandra Winbush is a decor piece itself!

Amazon

Arc Candle Lighter

Sick of burning yourself on matches and lighters that need new batteries or whatever-the-heck lighters need constantly? This one uses electricity to light the candle and arches into the very bottom of a candle jar without burning your fingers. It’s also rechargeable via USB!

 

 

The Best Candles for Fall 2021

 

Under $15

Hearth & Hand with Magnolia

Harvest Spice Candle

scent description: cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and other spices topped with creamy notes of vanilla

This is the fall candle for those who don't like firewood or pumpkin; they want something fresh, sweet, and spicy, and this delivers.

Target

Warm Cider and Cinnamon Candle

scent description: clove, cinnamon, orange, apple cider, nutmeg

For those who like to burn a candle for the entirety of their workday and don't want to spend a lot of money on it, this one will make your entire space smell like how I imagine the tent in The Great British Bake-Off smells during the holidays.

Glade

Apple Cinnamon Candle

scent description: crisp McIntosh apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg

Sometimes you just need a Glade candle. Affordable and ultra scented, there’s no guilt in burning a classic Apple Cinnamon from Glade. You’ll feel like you’re living inside a red delicious and it’s not a bad place to be.

Target

Autumn Harvest Candle

scent description: coconut, peach, and cinnamon

Don't let the coconut and peach fool you, the cinnamon in this candle takes center stage while the other notes keep it grounded instead of too spicy.

Target

Heritage Pumpkin Candle

scent description: pumpkin, cream, and coconut

This isn't your usual pumpkin scent. It's a little sexy and antique, making it smell like we're baking pumpkin treats on a sunny day whenever it's burning.

Frères Branchiaux

Vanilla Spice Candle

scent description: soft vanilla and cinnamon

This is the perfect twist on a classic vanilla scent to tweak it just the right amount for fall and winter. It has distinct notes of vanilla, but with warm, spicy scents of fall mixed in.

 

 

$15-$25

Frères Branchiaux

Vanilla Spice Candle

scent description: soft vanilla and cinnamon

This is the perfect twist on a classic vanilla scent to tweak it just the right amount for fall and winter. It has distinct notes of vanilla, but with warm, spicy scents of fall mixed in.

Sweet Water Decor

Leaves Candle

scent description: apples, red berries, oranges, cinnamon, cloves, nectar, and white musk

Who knew the scent of straight up leaves would be so compelling? This smells exactly like stepping out your door to a perfect fall day. There’s the slightest chill in the air and golden leaves crunch under your boots. It’s not too intense of a scent, so it’s perfect for burning for hours at a time (no scent headaches).

The Koop NYC

Sweater Weather Candle

scent description: powder, coconut milk, sugar, lavender, palo santo, amber, musk, sandalwood

A palette cleanser from rich, smokey, musky fall scents, Sweater Weather is a light and airy, burn-all-day candle. It's the ideal summer-to-fall transition candle, smelling just like pulling your sweaters out of the closet for the first time again.

Sweet Water Decor

Pumpkin Spice Candle

scent description: pumpkin, cloves
buttercream, cinnamon, smoke embers, vanilla

This is what a PSL should smell like. Not too sweet, not sticky, not artificial—instead, this scent is warm and soft with a hint of sweetness that you'll burn all day long.

Bath and Body Works

Marshmallow Fireside Candle

scent description: smoldering woods, fire- roasted vanilla, crystallized amber with essential oils

This candle is literally what you’d imagine sitting around a campfire and roasting marshmallows would smell like; it’s sweet, but the warm, fire smell keeps it from being too overwhelming. It’s the perfect hybrid between a sweet smell and a quintessential winter firewood smell.

Bath and Body Works

Pumpkin Apple Candle

scent description: red delicious apple, fall pumpkin, fresh ground cinnamon, clove buds with essential oils

This is one of the most underrated candles at Bath and Body Works. It’s the perfect blend of pumpkin and apple, the season’s two reigning champs when it comes to scents. It’s great for fall, but it also has a little cheeriness that can be burned through the holidays too.

Bath and Body Works

Leaves Candle

scent description: crisp red apple, golden nectar, warm clove spice with essential oils

Is there fall without this candle? With scents of apple and clove spice, this is the fall scent of fall scents, without ever being too much.

Paddywax Candles

Tobacco and Patchouli Candle

scent description: cinnamon, patchouli, tobacco

This Amazon find is pure delicious; let it transport you to a beautiful Hallmark-style log cabin getaway, complete with crackling fire and sexy innkeeper. It’s woodsy with the tobacco and the patchouli and cinnamon keep it sweet without going too musky.

Thymes

Heirlum Pumpkin Candle

scent description: heirloom pumpkin, creamy caramel, warm vanilla bean, and spicy cinnamon

This pumpkin candle is quite strong. The small candle burned for a while and went through the entire home. If you want PSL burned into your taste buds and nostrils forever, this one is essential.

Kai & Co. Candles

Egyptian Amber Candle

scent description: fresh greens, warm spice, earthy patchouli, blooming lily, sandalwood, musk, warm amber, and vanilla

If you prefer to embrace the season in a more subtle way, this scent is for you. Think of it like southern California in the fall. Filled with earthy tones and just a hint of amber and musk, this candle is a year-round burn.

P.F. Candle Co

Teakwood and Tobacco Candle

scent description: leather, teak, and orange

This is the essential tobacco scent—it might even be one of the closest dupes you’ll find to some of Tom Ford’s most famous scents. It smells exactly like drinking mulled wine in a cottage while someone you would really like to see naked smokes a cigar next to you. It’s not too strong either, so it’s the perfect candle for a bathroom or small space like your desk.

Brooklyn Candle Studio

Apple Cider Candle

scent description: natural cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, orange, and cedarwood essential oils

This candle will instantly transport you to apple picking in New England while the leaves are changing. Guests will enter your apartment searching for fresh cider donuts. The underlying cedarwood helps elevate the scent and keep it from smelling too sweet.

Brooklyn Candle Studio

Toasted Pumpkin Candle

scent description: toasted pumpkin seeds, cardamom, nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon notes

Sometimes you just want to stick your face in a PSL and breathe deep. This candle is exactly that with a hint of toasted marshmallow, but the clove and nutmeg add depth that keep it from being too sweet.

 

 

$25-$50

Otherland

Rattan Candle

scent description: sandalwood, golden amber, and warm musk

This candle has everything you could ever want. The throw is fantastic (meaning the scent travels so you can smell it all throughout the room), it never tunnels, and the wick doesn’t get a mushroom top and cloud the wax, making it totally worth the somewhat-higher price tag. The sandalwood notes are really strong in this, but the golden amber makes it a little lighter. Think Northern California vibes.

Otherland

Dappled Wood Candle

scent description: sandalwood, toasted walnut, sweet hay

This vegan candle (one of the only on this list) is ideal for cuddling up with a fall book and your favorite fall beverage, thanks to its warm, light scent. If you love Rattan, Otherland even considers this an "autumnal riff" on their classic fragrance.

Mala the Brand

Suede & Smoke Candle

scent description: saffron, vetiver, cedarwood

This smells like the hottest person you've ever seen wearing Baccarat after they've brought a handful of wood into a burning fire and sat in the smoke a little while. It perfectly combines sexy with woodsy to make the ideal date night scent.

We will note that if you are ordering this hoping the wood wick will crackle, think again—you'll have to turn on this ASMR video instead.

Voluspa

Baltic Amber Candle

scent description: baltic amber, amber resin, sandalwood, and vanilla orchid

With notes of amber resin, sandalwood, and vanilla orchid, the Baltic Amber candle is the perfect mix of earthy and woodsy scents, while still being subtly sweet. It will remind you of cozying up by the fire and staying warm under piles of cozy knit blankets on a cold, crisp autumn day.

Boy Smells

Cedar Stack Candle

scent description: cedar, labdanum, juniper berry, sawdust, and white musk

This is one of the most sophisticated candles we’ve ever smelled. It’s sweet and musky at the same time. You really smell the cedar and wood, but the juniper berry makes this an all-year-round favorite. It’s a really layered scent that just smells expensive.

APOTHEKE

Charcoal Candle

scent description: chestnut, charred-maple, orange-blossom, clove, cinnamon, embers, cedarwood, guaiac

You know what’s instantly sexy? A pure black candle—ultra vampy and chic. This one smells exactly like a black candle called “Charcoal” should. Lots of smooth smoke, like the back corner booth at a speakeasy.

FORVR MOOD

Matcha Business Candle

scent description: hazelnut coffee, almond milk, honey, lavender, and vanilla

We know many people hate sweet scents, but they’re so lovely to use in your kitchen to make it smell like you’re always baking something delicious. This doesn’t necessarily smell like matcha, so if that was your worry, fear not. Instead, it leans heavily toward hazelnut coffee, vanilla, and a little bit of honey. Burn this in the morning when you’re brewing coffee, and it’ll be the perfect morning pick-me-up. Plus, this jar is huge, so it’ll last forever.

FORVR MOOD

We Not Linkin Candle

scent description: pumpkin, cinnamon, whipped cream

Our girl Jackie Aina loves a sweet, gourmand scent, and I'll continue to buy them up as long as she makes them. Unlike others though, this pumpkin dessert candle isn't too heavy or headache-inducing—just like your mom baking her famous pumpkin roll in the kitchen while you're finishing up that last paper before Thanksgiving break.

NEST

Pumpkin Chai Candle

scent description: wild pumpkin, spicy masala chai, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon

If fall had an influencer-approved candle, it would be this one. The smell is classically intoxicating, and the pumpkin notes are comforting rather overwhelming. The spice notes elevate this traditional scent and make it a splurge you’ll be happy with every time you strike a match.

Harlem Candle Company

Renaissance Langston Luxury Candle

scent description: nutmeg, clove, leather, jasmine, cade, vanilla, sandalwood, amber

This intoxicating scent will make your home smell like a million bucks (without spending it). It's sexy and tough with the leather and cade, but hints of nutmeg and vanilla keep it sweet, while jasmine rounds it out with a fresh note. It's so layered and unique that you're bound to get asked where you bought it.

 

 

$50+

DIPTYQUE

Vanille Candle

scent description: vanilla softened by smooth, woody accents

It may be called “vanille,” but don’t let the sweet name fool you. The main scent is vanilla, but it’s from black vanilla pods, so it’s a little more like earthy vanilla than like what you use to bake cookies. Add in layers of leathery, smoky, and woodsy accents, and you have a complex, luxurious aroma you’ll want to burn until spring. It’s like lumberjack-cozy with a little extra elegance and sweetness.

DIPTYQUE

Feu de Bois/Wood Fire Candle

scent description: birch, juniper, cade

If you're dreaming of spending a weekend in a snowy cabin with nothing but a burning fire and a good book to keep you company, you'll want Feu de Bois burning in your home immediately. It smells like dried, burnt wood, and makes your home feel warm and cozy—no blankets or old radiator heat required.

D.S. & Durga

Portable Fireplace Candle

scent description: dwarf pine wood, atlas cedar, smoke, oak ash, cedar, birch, birch tar, copaiba resin

This candle is *THE* cabin in the woods. It is literally the exact scent that gets all over your clothes after a bonfire and you spend hours trying to get it out, but that’s what makes it so good. It instantly transports you to a camping trip or post-tailgate bonfires. It’s only a one-wick, but it is strong as hell, so keep it to a bigger area and don’t let it burn too long (this makes the price worth it since it’ll last forever).

Replica

Replica Jazz Club Scented Candle

scent description: pink pepper, primofiore lemon, neroli oil, rum absolute, clary sage oil, java vetiver oil, tobacco leaf absolute, vanilla bean, styrax resin.

If you've ever wondered what the VIP area of a speakeasy in December of 1927, I'd reckon this is it. Tobacco and rum mix with vanilla bean and pink pepper to create one of the sexiest, coolest scents you've ever smelled. If you love the perfume, you'll love this candle just as much.

 

 

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