Scented Candle Expectations

I’ve been perusing The Hairpin, and Kelly Conaboy’s scented candle reviews are truly excellent. I have written my own scented candle nonsense, but it got me thinking about my actual candle-related expectations. You’d think having only ever bought maybe five candles ever, and at least two because I thought Mr. Squish would like them, that I wouldn’t have strong feelings about this.

But I do, dear reader.

Fire is key

We have lots of options to generate smell without fire. If you’re choosing a candle, it’s because you want to burn something. To me, the more wicks the better. Those three-wick candles are nice, but I’m thinking, like, nine wicks would be ideal.

Nine is the perfect square of three. If you light some colored, scented wax on fire with that kind of number you’re surely doing some kind of witchcraft. This is good.


I generally subscribe to the idea that clean lines, solid crafting, and good materials are a mark of a proper luxury purchase. This is not true of scented candles. I want them to look like a pope’s tomb in the Vatican – all scroll work, precious metals, jewels, and melodramatic visual storytelling. A good scented candle should have Achille’s shield fastened to the side of it. The bad guy from The Last Crusade should want to drink from it.

It should also be as heavy as an industrial stand mixer and make a plausible murder weapon in Clue.


I rarely go out of my way to influence my abode’s scent. Perfume, even house perfume, can be overwhelming and weird for my nose. But if I’m going to light a nine-wick candle that looks like it was stolen from Kulbai Khan’s pleasure dome that thing should be pungent.

The scent should not make me think of baking, hiking, or beaches. Those are nice smells, but can be achieved through warmed wax, diffusers, or simply house spray. A beautiful monstrosity of a candle should have a scent that is heavy and multi-layered, bringing to mind the kind of reviews where people start talking about feelings instead of whatever they’re reviewing.

I mean, yes, technically I can say I want there to be wood and mineral notes along with musk and floral or whatever. But it’s easier to say that it should smell like the brief happy moment in a Tennessee William’s play or whatever Judith would light before beheading Holofernes.

Does such a candle exist? Certainly not in my price range. At the very least it sounds like a complicated candle commission.

However, in a brief search, I found there is such a thing as a Justin Trudeau-scented candle. So that’s not nothing.

You can buy his sweet musk on Etsy

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