A Dummy’s Guide to Candles

By: JoAnn Snavely

I have a candle obsession; I’m always burning them–I mean I’m even burning one right now as I’m writing this. With this candle obsession of mine comes a lot of money being spent testing out candles to find out my favorites, and I’ve spent too much money on candles. More than I’d like to admit. In my experiences with buying candles, the two companies that have been ultimately successful for me are Yankee Candle and Bath and Body Works “White Barn Collection.” If you have any prior knowledge about these two companies, you know they are on the pricier side in the world of candles, with large candles starting at $20. That drawback makes picking out what candle to spend your money on difficult. With the extended range of candles being sold at these stores, it’s very hard to choose which candles to purchase. With my experience in buying candles, the following is a ranking of my top 10 candles:

10: Solar Ylang- Yankee Candle (Woodwick)

Solar Ylang is a part of Yankee Candle’s Woodwick collection. This is a collection by Yankee Candle where the wick is made out of wood, and what this specialized wick does is make a satisfying crackling noise simulating an actual wood fire. At first sniff, this candle smells like flowers with hints of the middle of the woods. Which although is an odd description, fits really well. When lit, it takes a while for the scent to kick off, but when it does it just takes that initial scent and makes it muskier. It burns really nicely, it just doesn’t have the strongest scent and that’s why it takes the last spot on the list

RATING: 6/10

Scent Notes: Jasmine, ylang ylang (which is a flower with many medicinal properties), with hints of musk and bergamot. 

09: Mediterranean Breeze- Yankee Candle

I know the Yankee Candle slander may seem prevalent right now, but this is a ranking of my favorite candles. This is a normal Yankee Candle (it doesn’t have a special wick or anything).  Unlit, this candle smells like the beach scented febreeze, with hints of citrus, and fancy bathroom. This might sound offensive but I don’t mean any bathroom, I mean the really fancy bathrooms in expensive restaurants. There’s no specific scent to describe it as other than a fancy bathroom. When you look at the scent notes, the fact that there is no way to describe the scent is proven, the terms being used to describe it- well let’s just say they make no sense. When lit it literally loses the scent it had before lighting, now this alone could’ve given it the last spot on this list. However, it’s ranked slightly higher because after  20 minutes it gets a strong scent. 

RATING: 6/10

Scent Notes: Citrus blossoms, airy ozone, blue surf accord, amber crystals, oakmoss, and driftwood (see, they don’t make sense).

8: Midsummer Night- Yankee Candle

I know what you’re thinking- another Yankee candle? I love Yankee Candles but these scents don’t burn strong enough sadly. When you sniff this candle, the scent is underwhelming. It simply has a very subtle scent compared to the rest. Initially, it smells like expensive cologne,  not old spice cologne, like the kind someone in a fancy suit and expensive watch would wear. Maybe it makes me feel fancy, I couldn’t tell you why I like it so much. When I burn it, the smell is definitely a lot stronger than unlit. With all candles it just smells like that initial scent, just more burnt. I am biased towards this candle because it’s been burnt in my home for years, nostalgia’s a killer I guess. It’s definitely a good candle, it’s just not as strong as the rest of the candles so it is being given this rating.

RATING: 7/10

Scent Notes: Musk, patchouli, sage, mahogany cologne, juniper berry, bergamot, lavender, and surprisingly lime.

7: Frozen Lake- Bath and BodyWorks

Now it’s Bath and Body Works turn to be judged. This candle smells really good, it just is the opposite of the last. Firstly, when you smell the candle it is intoxicating– the scent is so strong that it kind of sweeps you off of your feet. It smells really good but the hints of musk are so strong that it kind of takes away the focus that is Frozen Lake. It definitely has that unlit scent of a fancy bathroom that someone sprayed way too much old spice cologne, like the amount a boy in middle school would coat on before school in the morning. Even just smelling it unlit to write this gave me a massive scent headache. Thankfully, when litthe scent isn’t as strong. Instead of being this overwhelming cologne scent, the lake part of the candle really brings itself to life. It still has that underlying cologne scent there, just not as strong. Overall this candle is really nice. 

RATING: 7.5/10


It is just way too strong for my taste, which may seem contradictory, but there is a happy medium.  The next few candles are the equivalent of a happy medium.

Scent Notes: Lavender Leaves, Cool Eucalyptus, and Juniper Berries.

6: Mahogany Apple- Bath and BodyWorks

I love this candle so much, it was undoubtedly the fuel of my candle obsession. It is sold out of the Bath and BodyWorks store right now because it went viral on TikTok, so unfortunately you will have to wait until next fall to purchase this candle. It is an amazing candle with a nice medium between a strong musky scent, and a subtle fruity scent. When you smell the candle, an inviting apple scent with that hint of musk welcomes your nostrils. When you light it, that apple scent is kind of taken by the musk, however after time of being burnt it begins to slowly but surely bring the apple smell back into your home. This candle screams fall, like not the pumpkin pie and thanksgiving side of fall– it screams the long walks by the leaves side of fall. I wouldn’t have this candle any other way because the scent is just *chefs kiss*. Okay, maybe I am overhyping this candle for it to be number six on my list. That is just because these next few candles are even better than this one, the standards have been set high and they’re about to be blown out of the water.

RATING: 9/10

Scent Notes: Red mahogany woods, golden delicious apple, pink peppercorn, and fresh lavender sprigs.

5: Christmas Cookie- Yankee Candle

Now, we’re getting into the really good stuff. This candle is on the sweet side so it’s a little different then the rest of the candles up to this point. Christmas cookie is by far my favorite Yankee Candle. Something about this candle is so nostalgic to me, it reminds me of this chapstick I used as a child. I don’t know why, but it smells like children’s lip gloss. Unlit it doesn’t necessarily smell like vanilla cookies. I can’t describe what this candle smells like but it is sweet and gives off that holiday vibe that it’s going for. I don’t know why this makes it feel like the holiday season, but it does. I’ve gone through three of these candles because I genuinely love it so much. When lit it smells like a cookie baking instead of this artificial lip gloss scent previously mentioned. This candle has this really sweet undertone that makes this candle so delectable. It is more than deserving of this 5th spot, it has potential to be ranked so much higher than it is, but the rest are simply better.

RATING: 9/10

Scent Notes: Vanilla bean, nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla butter. (sounds like ingredients to a cookie recipe)

4: Flannel- Bath and Body Works

Earlier in the list were candles that were musky, but they were ranked so low because they were either too strong or not strong enough. This one is the perfect candle if you’re into the musky, woodsy scents. It is part of Bath and Body Works holiday candles which almost all the candles on this list are. This candle smells so good, it would be higher if I didn’t love the next three candles as much as I do. Unlit, this candle smells like cologne, I know I’ve used this very vague description for half of the candles. It’s a really good description term, I‘ve gotta be honest. Let’s go into detail about what type of cologne this is, this is the type you would smell at Macy’s and it would be expensive so you would get it for christmas. It feels like a winter scent, I couldn’t justify wearing this in the middle of summer, only in fall and winter. I can’t describe why this is a winter candle, it just is. When it’s lit, it takes the cologne smell away, it begins to smell like the woods, it smells really nice and the fire aspect just makes the candle that much better. This candle is receiving the number four spot just because better candles exist, but among the musky candles this one takes the top.

RATING: 9/10

Scent Notes: Fresh bergamot, heirloom mahogany, and soft musk.

3: Marshmallow Fireside- Bath and Body Works

Welcome to the top 3 candles on my list. This was a tough list to put together because these candles are SO GOOD. This top 3 list especially, welcome to the elites of this list. Number three on my list is Marshmallow Fireside. Which is honestly everything you would imagine it to be, but better. Similar to Mahogany Apple, it is musky and sweet but in the best way possible.It smells like marshmallow that was being roasted for smores, but it gets stuck on the wooden stick. It’s such a weird description but it’s so true. When lit,  that sweet marshmallow smell becomes more prevalent. Although it’s not overwhelming it is a really good, subtle sweet scent. It is more than deserving of this number three spot on this list because it truly is everything a candle should be, with no scent overtaking the other scents and developing a really well made scent. It truly is an equal on the top three of this list. 

RATING: 10/10

Scent Notes: Toasted marshmallow, smoldering woods, fire roasted vanilla, and crystallized amber.

2: Pumpkin Apple- Bath and Body Works

Without a doubt, pumpkin apple is THE scent of fall. If there could only be one fall sent to be sold as Bath and Body Work’s fall collections, I would choose pumpkin apple. It is literally so amazing I can’t begin to describe how perfect it is. It doesn’t smell like fall, but it smells like every home, store, and candle around the fall season. You can smell the pumpkin and the apple, but it just smells like fall. There is no other way to describe it, it’s the perfect candle. When lit, the apple smell is a little bit stronger but it makes for a really good combination of scents to give a really nice, homey smell. I’m literally fangirling over this candle. It’s so perfect. This candle could take all of my money and I’d apologise for burning it. I love it that much. It’s tied for first place for this reason, I love this candle with my whole heart it is quite literally immaculate.

RATING: 100000/10

Scent Notes:  Red delicious apple, fall pumpkin, fresh ground cinnamon, and clove buds.

1: Cranberry Woods- Bath and Body Works

I LOVE THIS CANDLE SO MUCH. MAYBE TOO MUCH, BUT IT’S OKAY. This candle is one of the only floral scents on my list, but it is so good. It smells like japanese blossoms in a way but it is definitely cranberry woods. My only complaint is that it’s not strong enough. That downside, I am willing to look past because I love the scent so much. I can’t describe the scent other than it is perfection. It smells like flowers, with a hint of fruit. The subtleness gives a little bit of musk. It is just such a perfect mix of scents. When it is lit, it becomes a little bit muskier but it is just because it is the scent, on fire. It is an amazing candle, and the more it burns, the fruitier it becomes. I truly do love this candle eternally and will forever love it. 

RATING: 100000/10
Scent Notes: Tart cranberry, cinnamon bark, forest cedar, and golden amber.

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