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Scent has the power to transform a room, and the best affordable candles can quickly set the mood. Candles are a small, everyday luxury and there are a lot to choose from to suit your budget and style. To find just the right one for you, consider the following.
Soy Vs. Paraffin Wax
Candles are usually made of soy or paraffin. Paraffin wax — also sometimes referred to as mineral wax — is the most prevalent candle wax material since it’s cheap and takes scent and colors well. Yet, paraffin is a petroleum by-product, and that’s raised some health concerns about burning this wax type for the long term. Soy candles are another option that’s more expensive upfront than paraffin (but still relatively affordable); and is preferred for producing less soot, a longer burn time, using a renewable resource (it’s made from soybeans), and typically being free of additives other than those for fragrance.
If the manufacturer doesn’t list estimated burn time, here’s a general time frame: votive candles burn for seven to nine hours per ounce of wax, and larger candles have a burn time of roughly five to seven hours per ounce. The size of your room can also help you decide on candle size. A helpful guide to achieving the best scent coverage is to use 8 ounces of candle for every 10 square feet of room.
You can also extend the life of your candle with proper maintenance, so I’ve included a candle kit below for proper trimming and care. Another pro tip: always wax pool.
Each of my picks below is highly rated on Amazon, including several candles with thousands of reviews.
This Chesapeake Bay candle is a cult favorite with nearly 6,500 reviews, and it’s also one of Oprah’s favorite candles. But the best part is it’s totally affordable since you get a three-wick candle that looks great on your coffee table for under $20. Made from a soy wax blend that’s enhanced with natural essential oils, this 11-ounce candle burns for about 24 hours. Reviewers commented they love how well this wider candle fills a room with fragrance compared to other sizes.
The scent featured here — Balance & Harmony (aka water lily pear) — is a popular scent, but it also comes in 18 other scents, including several intended to bring tranquility and serenity. The pretty, frosted jar gives a nice glow when the flame is lit, and self-trimming wicks keep things low-maintenance.
A helpful review: “This candle may very well be the best candle purchase I’ve ever made! The scent is refreshing and clean, but not overwhelming. I love candles, but this one has definitely [exceeded] my expectations. Well done, Chesapeake Bay! I’ll be ordering this beautiful treat, again!!"
From an iconic, household-name brand, this popular candle comes with an impressive 110 to 150 hour burn time, making it the longest burning candle on this list. It’s made from mineral wax (aka paraffin wax) that’s blended with premium fragrance oils. The scent featured here, Lilac Blossoms, is one of Yankee Candle’s bestselling scents, but you can also choose from 20 other scents, including several other lovely florals like pink peony, jasmine, and white gardenia.
This pick is also a favorite of candle enthusiasts, with an impressive 4.6-star rating on Amazon after more than 5,000 reviews.
A helpful review: “The lavender smells like real lavender, not synthetic. Candle lasts longer than any other brand."
If you need an odor-eliminating candle that banishes bad smells and replaces them with a pleasant scent, try the Smoke Odor Exterminator. This set of two paraffin-soy blend candles has special enzymes that actually remove foul odors in the air instead of just masking them. And though it’s strong enough to neutralize smoke, reviewers report it’s effective for eliminating any odor, including those from pets.
Each 13-ounce candle in this two-pack provides 50 to 75 hours of burn time and emits a pleasant Sandalwood fragrance. It’s also available in dozens of other scents, including Sparkling Juniper and Lavender.
A helpful review: “I am really impressed with these candles! They actually work and that says a lot because most products that claim to get rid of the smell, don’t, they just over power the smell and as soon as you blow it out the smell is back. These don’t just cover it up. I will be buying more!"
If you’re looking for the best gift candle, this one from CoCo Benjamin is poured by hand and comes in nature-inspired scents. Plus, it looks artisanal but comes with a relatively affordable price tag considering the 40 hour burn time. This 8.1-ounce soy candle, featured here in a Basil, Lime, & Mandarin, also comes in nine other scents, including Bergamot Grapefruit and Cotton Blossom. Reviewers report this candle scent has the ability to "really fill a room." This pick is also vegan, cruelty-free, and free of phthalates and petroleum.
A helpful review: "This candle checks all the boxes. It is beautiful, smells amazing and would make a great gift! I decided to keep this one actually. I really like that it is made of soy wax so it doesn’t send up soot to my ceiling like traditional candles."
The soft glow of tealight candles adds a romantic, inviting vibe to any space, and this very reasonably priced set of 100 long-lasting tea light candles means you’ll always be ready to up the ambiance.
Each paraffin votive candle is unscented and burns for six to seven hours, and they even float in a pool or still water. These candles have an incredible 4.8-star rating on Amazon with more than 3,500 reviews, and reviewers commented that they’re impressed with the high quality of these tealights, especially compared to others they’ve tried.
A helpful review: “I have been burning candles for forty years now….these are the best tea lights EVER!. Better than ikea and better than World Market Cost Plus, both of which are excellent quality and value. There are times when these candles have burned as long as eleven hours. Truly phenomenal.”
For a little more, you can treat yourself without breaking the bank. A Trapp Signature Home candle is the priciest candle on this list, but the fragrance is rich and complex with excellent scent throw. The soy wax blend has a long-lasting burn time of about 50 hours for its 7-ounce size.
I’m partial to Mediterranean Fig, which has notes of fig, melon, and blonde woods, for an aroma that’s sophisticated and "reminiscent of a fresh fig ripened in the warm Tuscan sun." This fancy candle also comes in several other scents, including Amber & Bergamot and Teak & Oud Wood.
A helpful review: “This is by far THE BEST candle EVER! I have an issue with most candles not having enough smell and I’m a scented candle addict. Trapp candles take over! I love it! One candle is all you need! You definitely get what you pay for!!!”
Proper candle maintenance will extend the life of your candle and save you money in the long run. The easiest way to do it is with a candle accessory set, like this highly rated one from RONXS. It comes with a candle wick trimmer, candle wick snuffer, and candle wick dipper that are made of durable stainless steel (available in matte black). The pretty patterned box it comes in works well for storage, too.
A helpful review: "This was something I didn’t know I needed! I have burned myself in the past from blowing out candles with lots of melted wax and I dirty my fingers trying to trim and clean the wick when it’s too long but this handy set solves those issues. Also the packaging is pretty cute!"
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