5 Things to Consider When Buying a Candle

Often candles are an impulse purchase. You’re at a store, you see a candle that looks cool and you throw it in the cart. You get home and sometimes it’s perfect in the space and sometimes you never use it again. Occasionally if you need a candle for a very specific location or holiday you may search for something in particular. But often it’s all about what you see in the moment and decide to go ahead and buy.

Sometimes, however, it makes more sense to consider a few things before you make that impulse purchase. It is easy to end up with a lot of different candles that don’t really fit in your space. If you’re like me, you may even end up with a ton of green candles that really only go in one room. Taking some time to think about your candle needs and consider how a candle will fit into your collection is a great way to start making even better candle purchases that you are more likely to use frequently and get the more out of!

Here are 5 things to consider before you make that next impulse candle purchase (or even a considered one).

1. Scent

Scent is obviously one of the most important factors in choosing a candle. A good fragrance or a bad fragrance can make or break a candle. Scent is also a very personal thing. Some people love the smell of vanilla whereas others would rather have a more citrusy smell. Taking the time to think about the types of scents you like and would be willing to have around your house is important when choosing a candle. Do you want a stronger smell or a more subtle scent? Do you like floral fragrances or more woodsy notes? Making those choices will help you end up with a candle that will actually get used as opposed to one that just sits on the mantel.

Beyond just the basic decision of what scents you like yourself, it is important to think about where you’re putting the candle. For a kitchen, having something that smells sweet may not go well with the smell of food cooking. Instead consider using a fresher scent with citrus notes. For other rooms in the house think about the competing smells in the area and what feeling you want to evoke. Mixing scents can be great for larger rooms as long as you do it right and consider how each fragrance plays with each other.

Finally consider the season. Some of the most common impulse candle purchases are holiday-related. Christmas tree scents in the winter, anything and everything pumpkin spice for the fall and so on. While changing your scent to fit the season can be a great choice it is still important to consider the other factors of where the candle will go and what other smells it will be competing with. If you already have tried and true candles that stay out all year, try and find seasonal candles that can fit into that bouquet of fragrances.

The most important thing to remember is that once you find a candle fragrance you love, keep track of what is in it and try to find other similar candles that fit that fragrance profile. Although fragrance combinations almost seem unlimited sometimes, many candles use the same base scents and aromas. Some of the basic scent families include florals, fruits, fresh and spice. Taking it a step further, however, you can identify which specific smells you like such as lemongrass or cedar and focus on finding more candles with that specific fragrance in it!

2. Container

While it might not be the first thing you consider when buying a candle, looking at the container/vessel or lack thereof is an important part of selecting a candle. There are obviously positives and negatives to a candle that is already self-contained. Considering your space and your own habits is the best way to decide if a candle with a container or one without is the right choice.

Candles that are self-contained are great because you don’t need to go buy anything else. There is no need to worry about getting a candle holder or other platform to hold the candle. This saves you time and money. Candles that come in containers also burn down in a more uniform and less messy way. If a candle is in a container, it won’t drip over the sides and burn down in odd shapes (unless the container is ineffective). You generally worry less about damage to whatever piece of furniture you put the candle on. Plus you’ll never have to scrap wax off something once the candle has burned all the way down.

On the flip side, candles that come in containers give you less ability to customize the look and design of the piece. You have to work harder to find a candle that smells great and comes in a great container. Once your candle burns down, you’ll also lose that container forever, unless you take the time to carefully clean it out for another candle. Additionally, candles in containers are often more expensive than candles by themselves.

Buying a candle without a container is not without its drawbacks however. You have the more general issues of picking a container or holder to use in addition to the candle itself. Plus you have to worry about wax getting on things. Additionally, there may not be the same range of scents in candles without containers and you may have to choose one that is unscented. The major positive, however, is being able to buy candles in bulk that go with a holder or vessel you have bought. This allows you to keep a consistent look in a space even after the first candle burns out.

3. Design/Look

As with any home décor purchase, the look and design of a candle is crucial to determining whether it is right for your space. From color to patterns and texture, candles these days come in all shapes and forms. This wealth of possibility is great for those looking to create a custom design in their space; however, it can also be when trying to purchase a new candle.

One of the main things to consider when buying a candle is the overall design of the room the candle is going in and how it fits into that design. Is the candle an accent piece or should it be more neutral to blend in with the surroundings? Do you want it to make a statement or just feel like part of the décor? The answers to these questions can help you determine what candle is best for your space.

You can also decide things like whether you like a certain style such as modern or bohemian or if you like a more mixed look that blends a variety of styles together. Part of the decision depends on how many candles you are putting in a space and how you want them to work together. If you are planning on setting up a number of candles together on a mantel, you may want to choose a more neutral color palate with a variety of textures and shapes. If you are choosing a single candle or a small grouping, you may want a more dramatic contrast.

Once you have an idea of the space and the design goals you have for the candles in it, you can determine whether a candle without a container or a candle with a container is best for you. Some of it will come down to what colors and look you are trying to create and whether there are easily accessible candles with holders made in that style. It may also depend on whether you want the look to stay consistent over time.

4. Size

Size does matter, but not the way you might think. Big candles are great but so are smaller candles. A number of different considerations all factor into determining what the best size candle is for you. One of the first things to think about is how much space you have in the area you are planning on placing it. If you want a candle on your nightstand for example, you need to make sure you can safely fit it next to your lamp, box of tissues and phone without being in danger of burning anything. It’s also important to think about how the candle will look on the piece of furniture you are setting it. You don’t want it to overpower the furniture or get lost.

Another consideration is how often you will use the candle. If you are going to use the candle on a daily basis you may want to get one that is slightly bigger so it doesn’t have to be replaced as quickly. Similarly, if you are only planning on using it for short periods here and there, you may want a smaller candle that is easier to move. Using a smaller candle for a space where you rarely light a candle also helps you use up the candle at a more reasonable pace so you can keep it fresh.

Finally, it is important to think about how large the room in which you are putting the candle is. If you need a candle that can fill a large great room with a particular scent, then you may want to buy one that is larger. On the other hand, if you want a candle for a small guest bathroom, it may make sense to choose a candle that is smaller so the scent does not invade other rooms in the house. All of these factors come into play when you are choosing the right size candle for your space. Sometimes, however, you are limited by the sizes that are produced of a certain candle and have to make the best choice given all of the considerations on this list.

5. Price

Last but certainly not least is the importance of the price of the candle. Price can easily make or break a candle purchase. If you are trying to decide whether a specific candle is worth the price tag, here are a few things to think about when making your decision.

First, how large is the candle? The overall price tag is not as important as the price per ounce. Determining the price per ounce is extremely valuable especially when choosing between two different candles of different sizes. It may make sense to buy a more expensive candle if it is larger and will last longer.

Similarly, it is important to think about how often you will use the candle. Buying a larger candle with a higher overall price tag may be worth it in the longer run so you don’t have to replace it as often. At the same time, you may be willing to pay for a more expensive candle if you use it less frequently. If you are looking for a candle for a guest bedroom or bathroom that is rarely used, it may be worth paying a steeper price because you are unlikely to replace it for some time.

Finally, you should think about the role the candle is playing as a piece of décor. If you want a candle that has a specific look or style and that comes in a certain type of container, it may be worth paying more. If you are just looking for something that has a specific smell that you want to use daily, you may not want to spend as much. It is definitely worth spending more on a candle that is used purely for décor. On the other hand, a candle that is in daily use may need to be cheaper because you go through it much faster and don’t need it to have the same stylish container and design.


All of these factors are important to consider when buying a candle whether as a spur of the moment purchase or a more thought-out acquisition. We recommend thinking about all of these aspects anytime you are tempted to buy a candle. If you do, you will end up with a better collection of candles that fits your space and needs!