Best candles 2020: create a calming haven with one of the best scented candles

We wax lyrical about the best candles to scent your home

Best candles: The White Company Spring Candle
(Image credit: The White Company )

Nothing beats the reassuring glow of a scented candle, whether it’s a triple-wick, hand-poured creation from Jo Malone or a pillar-style affair wedged inside a much-loved candlestick holder. In this article we've rounded up the best candles available right now. You'd be surprised just how much impact a flickering candle can have on the mood of a room – it can instantly create a calming haven, bring warmth to a dingy corner, or create a soothing, intimate atmosphere. 

Right now, we’re seeing more designer fragranced candles than ever before. One welcome knock-on effect is that this has encouraged more mainstream, budget-friendly brands – from Waitrose to Yankee Candle and Marks and Spencer – to up their game, creating candles made with higher concentrations of scented oil and better quality wax.

If you're here because you want to up your game when it comes to creating a welcoming space in the home, you might also want to explore our guides to the best essential oil diffusers. Read on for some buying advice, then dive into our list of the best candles to buy right now.

Best candles: what kind of wax is best?

Soy wax or beeswax candles are best when it comes to producing a clean burn – that is, a burn which leaves minimal residue on the sides of the jar, and won’t result in a build-up of soot (either on the side of the jar or your freshly-painted ceiling). That said, although there’s growing concern about the use of paraffin wax, which is cheap and readily available, but can create undesirable scents. 

The vast majority of candle brands, including some of the most sought-after names, continue to use paraffin wax in their products, relying on additional ingredients to create a cleaner burn and mask any odours.

The widespread use of this type of wax, which is still used in the vast majority of candles, means it’s especially important to treat your candle with care. To get the most out of it, when you first light the wick, allow the candle  to burn until the entire top layer of wax is liquid. If you don’t, the wax will continue to melt downwards, not outwards, creating a 'tunnel' and wasting the majority of the perfumed wax. 

To get the best from your candle, it’s also important to regularly trim your wick in order to reduce soot-build up. Finally, reduce soot dispersal by using a snuffer to extinguish the flame. Avoid simply placing a lid over the candle – the wax will reabsorb the soot and smoke, all of which will be released into the air when you light the candle again.

Best candles: The White Company Spring Candle

(Image credit: The White Company)

1. The White Company Spring Candle

The best candle for those who enjoy floral, romantic scents

Reasons to buy
+Fresh and floral fragrance+Long-lasting scent+Comes in two sizes

Ah, spring. Is there anything better than waking up to the smell of freshly cut grass, or catching a heady whiff of lilac on your way to work? The Spring candle from The White Company will bring that invigorating scent into your home all year round. There are refreshing notes of freshly mown grass and relaxing lilac here, as well as additional whispers of sweet honeysuckle, rose and jasmine. This is a playful yet romantic scent that would make a world of difference in your bedroom.

The scent is on sale exclusively at The White Company, and is hand finished in the UK using mineral wax to ensure a long, even burn and maximum scent release. It's also had a 2020 jar update: this candle now comes in a charming ribbed vessel, which has a slightly vintage vibe. 

Best candles: Jo Malone

(Image credit: Jo Malone)

2. Jo Malone Fragrance Layered Candle

The best luxury scented candle

Reasons to buy
+Multiple popular scents in one candle+High quantity of natural fragrance oils  +Burn time of 60 hours 

If you're after a luxury scented candle, head to Jo Malone. The Fragrance Layered Candle offers a double whammy of seductive scents. There's no denying that Jo Malone's layered creation, which launched in May 2020, commands attention – a two-tone glass jar filled with four layers of wax which release alternating aromas. 

There are two combos to choose from, each making use of the best-known and best-loved Jo Malone Fragrances. 'A Fresh Fruit Pairing' layers English Pear & Freesia with Lime Basil & Mandarin, while 'A Sensual Floral Pairing' mixes Pomegranate Noir and Peony & Blush Suede. 

If you regularly use the same scents, your nose can get used to them and stop registering them any more – this is an ingenious way to counteract this phenomenon. The inevitable mixing of these layers creates a third fragrance. We also like the subtle branding – Jo Malone has gone for an on-trend gradient design, with no fussy label to cover it up.

Best candles: This Works deep sleep heavenly candle

(Image credit: This Works)

3. This Works Deep Sleep Heavenly Candle

The best candle for anyone who has trouble sleeping

Reasons to buy
+Aromatherapy at home+Relaxing lavender scent+Long-lasting

If you're shopping our best candles guide because you're feeling stressed or not sleeping well, this is the candle for you. This Works has created a whole line of  sleep-aid products, from pillow sprays to essential oils. This Deep Sleep Heavenly therapeutic candle is enriched with lavender and chamomile extracts to help to chill you out after a stressful day. Remember, the more relaxed you are before going to bed, the more likely you are to sleep better (and for longer). We've used this candle religiously as part of our wind down routine before going to bed, and now whenever we smell it something triggers in our brain to say 'it's bedtime'. 

Try it yourself by running a luxurious bubble bath, with the soft glow of this scented stunner helping you to relax, relax, relax. It goes without saying, you shouldn't burn this while you're falling asleep, for safety reasons – it's for before-bed only.

Best candles: Yankee Candle Blue Java Banana

(Image credit: Yankee Candle )

4. WoodWick Blue Java Banana

The best candle for those who love tropical scents

Reasons to buy
+Strip-like wick designed to crackle like a log fire+Shape designed for a clean, even burn+Strong fragrance
Reasons to avoid
-Burns faster than a traditional wick

The WoodWick Blue Java Banana is a banana and pineapple-scented candle ideal for fragrance fans searching for something a little more fruity. This candle's unusual, hourglass jar is designed to offer a clean, even burn, and there's more interest to come in the form of the unique 'Woodwick'. 

This long, thin strip-style wick is designed to crackle as it burns, to mimic the soothing effects of a log fire (although we can't deny there's initially a somewhat unsettling resemblance to the sound of a spluttering fuse).The design of the wick admittedly results in a slightly quicker burn, but the use of high quality fragrance oils means the candle's scent continues to fill the air long after the candle's been extinguished.  

Best candles: Diptyque pine candle

(Image credit: Diptyque)

5. Diptyque Protective Pine candle

The best candle for filling your room with a fresh, earthy scent

Reasons to buy
+Long-lasting scent+Gorgeous design

With fans including Victoria Beckham and Beyonce, Diptyque is certainly one of the big players in the world of candles. While Figuier and Baies are the clear bestsellers, we're putting this ultra-woody Protective Pine Candle forward as a contender for your next shelfie. This candle conjures up a fresh and wintery scent with notes of Siberian and Balsam pine, cedar and hints of basil and sage, and is designed to "wrap its protective aura around those who light it". The glorious green packaging, covered in little charms (dream catcher, shooting star and beetle) symbolises hope and protection. 

Best candles: Scandinavisk Nordlys Candle

(Image credit: Scandinavisk)

6. Scandinavisk Nordlys Candle

Embrace Scandi style with these unusally-scented candles

Reasons to buy
+Cool Scandi styling+Intriguing and usual scents

Scandinavisk sells a range of candles, presented in painted glass votives with engraved beechwood lids, and complete Norwegian names and scent descriptors that are as confusing as they are appealing. Our current favourite is this 'Nordlys' candle, inspired by the Northern Lights, although that's mainly because of the cool packaging design. Scandinavisk describes the scent as 'Magical, elusive, indefinable', so who know's what you're getting here?

Alternatives include Hygge, which combines hints of hints of baked strawberry cake and tea, along with rose petals and wild mint, and Ro, which offers "notes of fresh grass and crumpled leaves, ambered woods and hidden blankets in the dunes". Makes a change from citrus and floral, doesn't it? 

best candles: Jo Malone

(Image credit: Jo Malone)

7. Jo Malone Lime, Basil and Mandarin

A classic scented candle with a long-lasting fragrance

Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous scent+Stunning looking candle+Makes a beautiful gift

Jo Malone is a real powerhouse in the world of scented candles, and is one of the most copied candle companies ever... that's how coveted these Jo Malone products are. And the Lime, Basil and Mandarin candle is a real classic. Subtly marrying peppery basil and aromatic white thyme with zesty citrus, this one's something of a chart-topper. It's also Jo Malone’s signature fragrance, so a great place to start for Jo Malone candle newcomers. When in doubt, this candle is a foolproof option for Christmas presents and gifts at anytime of the year.

Best candles: Seletti Toad Candle

(Image credit: Seletti )

8. Seletti Toad Candle

A quirky candle for those who want something a little different

Reasons to buy
+Quirky design +Unisex scent for any time of year+Part of sought-after artist collab

Home décor brand Seletti is known for its quirky designs, and it doesn't get quirkier than this candle: a beady-eyed toad, sandwiched in a burger bun. Part of the highly sought-after range of homeware created by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, the candle comes in a delicate porcelain jar designed to be reused. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the motif offers no clues relating to scent of the candle. Instead of toad scent, here you're getting a heavenly, long-lasting burst of uplifting bergamot, softened with notes of chocolate, vanilla and musk.

Best candles: La Montaña First Light candle

(Image credit: La Montaña)

9. La Montaña First Light candle

Bring the great outdoors in with this mountain-fresh candle

Reasons to buy
+Romantic and evocative scents+Perfect antidote to the winter blues

La Montaña may not have the lofty candlemaker status of a brand like Diptyque, but boy do their candles smell good! This young company recreates the scents of the Spanish mountains, with romantic and evocative candle names like ‘First Light’, ‘Fig Grove’ and ‘Winter Oranges’. As the brand's signature fragrance, First Light is a particular nose-pleaser, blending wild mountain flora including fennel, bergamot, rosemary, mountain pepper and rockrose. It's ideal to get you through those bleak winter days when you’re fantasizing about your next sun-drenched holiday.

best candle: 10. Ashleigh & Burwood Wild Things Rhino Saw Us candle

(Image credit: Ashleigh & Burwood )

10. Ashleigh & Burwood Wild Things Rhino Saw Us candle

A stunning candle from a brand that supports various good causes

Reasons to buy
+Includes a donation to the Helping Rhinos charity+Beautiful reusable container +Softer wax for more efficient fragrance release 

The next best thing to a safari (sort of), this rhino-adorned candle comes in a gorgeous ceramic jar which can be used as an ornament once the wax has melted. It's ideal for fans of flower power – expect a powdery, floral scent dominated by peony and iris, with an unexpected spicy hit courtesy of notes of warm amber. It's not the largest candle we've come across (it weighs in at 320g) but a generous burn time (55 hours) stems partly from the use of softer wax with a low melting point. These factors ensure even, consistent fragrance dispersal. We also love the fact that 20 per cent of all profits from the sale of this candle go to the Helping Rhinos charity.

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