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What Are Vanilla Candles?

By S. McNesby
Updated May 16, 2024
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Vanilla candles are scented with real or synthetic vanilla fragrance. The scent of a burning vanilla candle is reminiscent of baking or of fresh, hot cookies, since vanilla extract is a commonly used baking ingredient. Scented candles can be made in any formulation, including paraffin, soy wax, beeswax, or tallow. The wax chosen for the candle is melted, and then the vanilla scent is added. Most vanilla candles are made from synthetic vanilla fragrance, but vanilla beans or extract can be used as well.

Candles vary based on their shape, scent, and the type of wax they are formulated from. According to the National Candle Association, vanilla has been the most popular candle fragrance type sold in the last decade, regardless of shape or wax formulation. Popular shapes for vanilla candles include poured cylinders and tapers, glass canister kitchen candles, and small votives. Vanilla candles can also be carved, poured into shaped molds, or made to resemble actual foods and baked goods.

Gift shops, candle stores, home party suppliers, and independent artisans are all good places to buy vanilla candles. Each retailer or manufacturer usually has its own version of a vanilla scent, which can vary. Some vanilla candles smell like French vanilla ice cream, while others are reminiscent of baked goods or pure vanilla extract. If possible, candles should be purchased in person; this way, the scent can be experienced firsthand instead of via a written description or photograph.

If a natural material or scent is desired, soy wax or beeswax formulations are a good choice. Natural candles burn cleanly and can make a lovely gift for someone with an eco-friendly outlook. Vegans should note that some vanilla candles contain animal products; choose 100 percent soy-based candles to avoid accidentally purchasing an animal-based candle. Soy wax candles retain scent well and are often poured into decorative containers that further accent the home.

Actual vanilla beans can be used in vanilla candles, but they do not add to the scent. Whole vanilla beans may be inserted into the hot wax to achieve a decorative effect that accents the candle scent. Like any other candle additive, including the wick, vanilla beans need to be added to the candle during or directly after the pouring process. Vanilla bean parts or ground beans may be introduced to the candle in layers or incorporated into the melted wax as the candle is poured.

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Discussion Comments
By ddljohn — On Apr 23, 2014

My favorite type of candle scent is French vanilla. It smells so delicious. I prefer the soy candles because they are safer.

By fify — On Apr 22, 2014

@bluedolphin-- I agree with you. Cheap vanilla candles smell unauthentic. And not just that, they also burn unevenly and cause soot. This are the main issues that I have with candles. The last vanilla candle I bought did not burn evenly. So after a few days of use, there was a big hole in the middle of candle where it burned while rest of the candle remained. The wick was also so short at that point that I had a hard time lightening it.

Candles should not be very expensive, but the cheap ones are usually poorly made. I'd rather pay a little extra for a good smelling candle that lasts for a long time and doesn't go to waste.

By bluedolphin — On Apr 22, 2014

I love vanilla candles. The scent of vanilla is so calming and comforting. I love it when my house smells like vanilla. Of course, every vanilla candle isn't great. Some vanilla candles have a very harsh, unnatural scent because of artificial vanilla scent. I never buy vanilla candles online for this reason. I always buy them from stores so that I can check the scent first. From my experience, candles with a mid-range price are usually good. It's not necessary to buy expensive candles, but the very cheap ones do not smell good.

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