Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thrifty yet chic

I burn candles every day, mostly a little tea-light in a pretty glass with dinner (that's the 'minimum candle requirement'). On a day at home pottering, cleaning and relaxing, I love to light a high-quality scented candle. The only problem with high-quality scented candles though, is the high price.

I have been known to haunt the local L'Occitane shop (gorgeous French body products, as well as candles and incense) and when they recently had a half price sale on some of their candles, I was in. Around the same time I also scored a 30% off Ecoya candle.

In my dreams I burn Diptyque and Jo Malone candles with gay abandon, but I haven't reached those giddy heights yet. So we've established now that I get a little queasy spending big money on candles (which, after all, no matter how pretty they smell you just burn them, right?).

Do you know what upsets me more? Having to throw out the burnt-out base when the last little bit of wick gives in and droops into the molten wax, never to be revived. Leaving a thick foundation of wax with the remains of the walls of the candle also. All that lovely fragrance, trapped and wasted!

Then I started noticing a new product in shops - 'scented wax melts'. They piqued my interest. What if I snapped off pieces of leftover highly-expensive candle and melted them in my rarely used essential oil vapouriser? And do you know what? Just a little chunk of defunct scented candle placed in the vapouriser (no water) with a tealight candle underneath releases the fragrance as the chunk (sorry, 'scented wax melt') liquifies.

After a short while (around two tealight candles, so about 8-10 hours) the wax loses its scent and it's ready to be thrown out. If it was still a candle like in it's former life, it would have burnt away. But in it's new life as a wax melt, it just uses up the scent and stays put. I then leave it to harden and put the whole vapouriser in the freezer. The next day the wax disk simply pops out and I bin it. The vapouriser is left pretty clean too, just a tiny amount of wax to scrape off here and there.

That's how I get fancy candles out of jars too, put the whole thing in the freezer (when it's solid, not just after it goes out) and because freezing shrinks the wax a touch, it should come out relatively easily, sometimes a butter knife is needed.

So I'm here to say to you today, folks, do not throw away your fancy candles when you think there is no hope, because there is!


  1. Hi, just found your blog via The Hostess of the Humble Bungalow - and I like it! Every morning on my little table at the window I light a candle - standing beside a tiny vase with a special flower, a beautiful quartz - and I drink the first cup of tea on my own, looking into the park. It's still early, but I need that time for thinking and writing - later my husband and I have real breakfast.
    And when I serve dinner we always light the candles in a silver candleholder - sheds such a beautiful light (although we have 'real' light on too, of course)

  2. Love your idea to rescue that expensive candle for just a bit longer!

    I don't burn candles enough...but will start to burn more now...will help with the electric bill as well!

  3. This is such a great idea. I am forever hanging on to old candles not wanting to part with the jar or the large remnants that are left inside. I will stop my anxiety right here and now.

  4. You can also collect a bunch of the same scent and melt them down into a new candle (just pick up some cotton wick and you're good to go).

  5. I use the freezer trick too and it works like a charm...
    I have owned a few very expensive scented candles but really like the bees wax ones that I buy locally they have a subtle scent and are much more in my price range and no toxicity.

    Another lovely well thought out post and I look forward to each and every post Fiona!

  6. Britta, welcome, and thank you for your comment. Your morning ritual sounds just delightful, and your evening candelabra too. There's nothing like a real flame.

    Sunny, once you start lighting them regularly, you will be hooked. To me they signify 'I'm home now, time to relax'.

    Debra, you're so funny! But clearly I'm the same as you since I used to worry over wasted fragrance opportunities also.

    Kalee, hi! I have often wondered how easy this is to do (and where the heck one finds candle wicks - in Victorian London perhaps?). I have pretty candle holders that I would love to refill, not to mention teacups etc. I'll do some research into candle wicks here.

    Leslie, you are a honey (unintentional beeswax pun). I love beeswax too, but they're not sold everywhere, you have to really track them down. Some people don't like them as it's mean to the bees to steal their wax, but so is eating honey. I made my own rolled beeswax candles once. So satisfying.

    Wait, I must have had a candle wick then! How do you stick it to the bottom of the jar Kalee? With more wax?

  7. I've never really been a candle person for two reasons: 1) I'm afraid I'll forget one and burn the house down :) and 2) most candles are synthetic and release toxic chemicals. Between reading your post and the comments of your readers, I'm thinking I need to hunt down a good quality candle and try it - especially as the dark, depressing winter approaches.

  8. I like the alternative of the melting wax instead of a flame because it reduces smoke. I love an expensive candle as a splurge now and then.

  9. hi fiona,

    great tips re getting the most out of expensive candles. b/c i work for aveda i use their candles and they are still expensive even w/my discount. i have to say i'm not a big fan of scented candles overall though. i do like a candle to burn during my evening bath each evening. thanks for sharing this info w/us.

  10. I've always loved scented candles, but loathed wasting that bit at the end. What a great idea to reuse them this way.

  11. Now that is a great idea! I love candles, too, especially as we head toward winter here. Thanks for visiting my blog - I'm glad to have found yours.

  12. I burn candle nightly at my bedside. I think it reminds me of my childhood. It's so soothing on the mind and senses. I adore scented candles. Have a nice Sunday;-)

  13. Fiona, lovely to hear from you on Remembering Victoria. Your blog is beautiful. It still amazes me how many of us who so loved Victoria are out in cyber land. Candles are an integral part of how I "warm and cozy" my spaces. I have multiple ones in every room, including bathrooms, and love the gentle light and warm feeling they give.


  14. Fiona, you can buy wicks and candle things at most craft stores. And if you want to use it to make a teacup candle you simple tie some wick around a popsicle stick, hang it down in the teacup and pour the melted wax in. Let it set up and then trim the wick. Easy as pie!

  15. I really like Votivo's Moroccan Fig candle- it smells great and is only around $22...

    Also, I love to give people high-end candles as presents (such as dyptique) because I love to receive them myself!

  16. Nice post.Ecoya candles sounds good, it will be helpful to add how to get this candle and idea to reuse melt candle is brilliant with the massage "do not throw away your fancy candles when you think there is no hope, because there is!". Thanks


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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