Light your candles a full two hours before your guests arrive. The goal of home fragrance is to create an unmistakable ambiance that subtly, if not subconsciously envelops and welcomes your guests the moment that they enter into your space.
Burn your candle for about 2 hours at a time. This allows a nice, warm wax pool to develop that fully releases the fragrance. It sounds counter intuitive, but it also acts to lengthen the life of the candle; repeated lighting and then extinguishing before a large melt pool develops can cause the wick to "tunnel" down into the wax, starving the wick of oxygen and causing it to self-extinguish or under perform!
When you're burning nice candles, you’re going to see a mushroom-like ball form from time to time on the top of the wick. Trim it off as part of the normal trimming process (or carefully pinch it off using a tissue). That mushroom-like shape is made up of the remnants of the complex blends of fragrance oils and/or essential oils that are being gently drawn up through the wick to scent the room.
The more concentrated the oils are that are used to make the candle, the more this occurs. So it's a good thing, not a bad thing. And then, some fragrance oils – like natural Patchouli, Sandalwood or Oud – that tend to be a little thicker and heavier than, say a citrus essential oil, tend to leave a little more of those carbon deposits behind than the others.
Look for fragrances that suit you, the room, and the time of day. Some fragrances and essential oils can easily overpower a small room, while others are much more subtle. Citrus and floral fragrances are good for open, airy, and large rooms, and typically take less candles to create the desired fragrance level. Wood notes and resins are amazing, but often require more than one candle to be burning at a time. Meditative scents are good for quiet or personal spaces. Gourmand scents naturally lend themselves to dinner parties. Experiment with home fragrance, and pick scents that fit your lifestyle and personality.
If you have allergies, try to stay away from cheap, synthetic fragrances of all kinds – including those that are used in some candle products on the market. In my opinion, avoid those whether or not allergic. Cheap candles from the Big Box shops often burn fast and fill the air with synthetics and impurities. They may cost less, but you will need to replace them more and they are not good for your health. You get what you pay for. Look for Soy Wax, Coconut Wax, Pure Essential Oils.
Mix and match your scents, search for complex fragrance blends that you like, and increase or decrease the number of candles in the room to satisfy your preference and personality. Like the colors of your walls or the furniture you choose, use home fragrance as a personal expression of discerning style. A good fragrance in a beautiful vessel can do double duty. When the candle burns down (which may take awhile if you are using good wax), fill it with hot hot water to melt away and the clean the wax out. Re-use vessels for vases, kitchen utensil holders, cosmetics and toiletries. My favorite vessels are the Voluspa glass jars (especially the gilded ones) and Simpatico hobnail candles in bold colors (pictured). Archipelago has great minimal vessels like white frosted jars or matte black vessels.
Finally, keep your wicks to ¼” or less before each use. Extinguish immediately, allow to cool, and trim wick further if black smoke appears. Do not burn candles where there is a draft, as it may cause sooting (and uneven burning).
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My mother (Bea) and my aunt (Bobbie) would take my sister and I around to all the shops and flea markets. As a child, I'd be more inclined to say I was dragged around. They'd stop and look at EVERYTHING while I'd find the closest chair to sit and wait - or sleep.