Decorating Tips: Introduction To Candles

Candles are essentially fool proof, but following a few simple guidelines is a sure fire way to make your candle experience nothing but the best.

Candles are multi-functional. They can inspire romance, relaxation and creativity. They spice up our holidays and bring peace to solemn moments. Candles can calm a baby, soothe a bride and light a darkened path. They can scent and warm up every room in your home. Candles are wonderful and essentially fool proof, but following a few simple guidelines can be a sure fire way to make your candle experience nothing but the best.

What types of candles are best?

All candles are made following the same basic format""colored wax is poured into a mold or jar and hardened. If the candle is of the scented variety, ideally, fragrance is layered with wax until the process is complete. However, all brands of candles have different potencies and make ups:

The fragrance in cheaper candles is often added to the wax after the pouring is complete""this causes the scent to fizzle out after just a few hours. The same applies to color. If a candle loses its color once it begins burning, you can be sure that candle is of poor quality. A good way to test this is by examining the bottom of your candle (pillars work best). If the color there is patchy and significantly lighter than the rest of the piece, you'll likely be disappointed. Texture and shape are significant as well. Candles of a lesser quality are full of air pockets, lumps and ridges. A good jar candle has a level top and the wax line ends just below the rim. If your jar candle is half to three-quarters full, it was most likely created in an assembly line of "quantity not quality." Another sure-fire way to determine the quality of your candle is through a burn test. Poorly made candles tunnel in the middle, create a lot of soot and have loose, puffy wicks. If the wick in your candle "flowers" near the top and ashes into the wax, you've gotten a bum deal.

The color in higher-end candles is consistent and rich. Similarly, the scent in more luxurious (and often expensive) varieties is layered with wax from bottom to top, ensuring that your favorite scent with last through the life of the candle. Their texture is smooth and the shape symmetrical. The wick should be coated with wax and when it burns, the wax should burn out, not down.

Where should I purchase candles?

In general, try to steer clear of candles that come in multiple packages""these are often poorly made and vaguely scented. The same holds true for many seasonal candles, which are often sold on packaging, not quality. It's best to purchase your candles from a specialty shop, catalog or gift store. These candles are inevitably more costly, but you'll be much more satisfied with your purchase. Also note that massed-produced candles offer a limited selection of scents, most of which are very simple and well-known: vanilla, lavender, rose, cherry, "rain," etc. That being said, a good rule of thumb is to avoid choosing scents that are also found in car or air fresheners. High quality manufacturers offer a wide variety of scents like blueberry, log cabin, coconut lime, cinnamon roll and fresh laundry. This is primarily because of their greater selection and higher potency of oils.

What should I put in each room?

That depends. If you prefer the clean look of a pillar, try to arrange them in groups of three. Still, there's something to be said for the simple charm of a lone pillar perched atop a mantle or windowsill. Jar candles are a nice choice anywhere there's water or clutter, as the glass will protect the wax from damage. Tealite candles are best for enhancing existing d├ęcor, e.g. oil burners. Votive candles add an air of delicateness to any room""one above the bed, next to the sink, etc. When choosing a scent, take your clues from the mood you'd prefer the specific room to heighten. For example, you might want to try vanilla, rosewood, or lavender in the bedroom. Maybe linen, citrus or eucalyptus in the bathroom? In the kitchen, try apple, cake or pear. A rich firewood, vanilla or patchouli would be great for the living area.

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