There’s nothing I love more than a good scentscape. Since working from home, getting a good burn on has really filled that void of getting to see (and smell) everything a season has to offer. And we all know that a fall candle is the absolute peak candle experience. There’s just something about this season of scents: sharp, spice-laced cinnamon; frosty, ice-tipped fir; that sexy kick of cedar. Read on for the fall candles our editors can’t stop lighting on fire, from our budget-friendly faves to splurge-worthy scent masterpieces.
How to Make Your Candles Last Longer
Whether it’s a Hearth & Hand candle you spent $15 on or a $70 Diptyque splurge, watching candles burn is literally watching our money burn away. If you want the best experience, you have to take care of them. These tricks will make your candle burn longer and better and will keep you safe. Here are my biggest tips for the best burn:
Always trim your wick
If you notice your candle has what is often called a “mushroom top” on the wick, little pieces of the burned wick will fall into your candle, making it cloudy and significantly less pretty when it’s sitting on your shelf. It also lowers the flame, which causes soot to form on the top of the candle (not a good look) and is just a fire hazard. Also, it lowers the burn time of your candle because it can cause tunneling. Which brings me to…
The first time you burn, let the candle burn evenly
This might take a while, and every candle is different (I’ve had candles burn evenly after two hours, but some have taken up to five or six). If you start your candle with a giant tunnel (AKA your candle has only burned through the middle and isn’t an even layer of melted wax), it’s difficult to make sure all of that wax burns evenly in the future. When your candle tunnels, you can’t make use of all of that wax, meaning you’re burning your candle down faster, which also means you’re burning your literal dollar bills too.
If the candle does start to tunnel, use aluminum foil around the edges to keep the heat circling the candle
Basically, you’ll wrap a piece of aluminum foil around the top and pinch it in to keep the heat in one space. You can also get a candle warmer, which will heat the wax evenly from the bottom. This is a good option if you’re noticing a lot of tunneling, but it can take a really long time to burn completely.
Once your candle is burned all the way down, pop out the wax and use the jar for decoration
I’ve done this by creating a double-boiler on my stove to heat up the wax and pour it out, but my favorite way is by popping the candle in the freezer. The wax will freeze and should pop out, or you can crack it, and it’ll come out in a couple of pieces. Never put your candle in the microwave because the wick is usually sitting on a piece of metal, and we all know what happens there. To remove any soot or excess candle wax on the edges, use some dish soap and warm water on a washcloth. It’ll take a second, but it comes right up.
This set includes a wick trimmer (you can use scissors, but when the candle burns down too low, this is essential), a snuffer (blows out the flame safely), and a wick dipper (keeps the wick in the right place—ever have a wick dip and dry below the wax? not fun!).
Sick of burning yourself on matches and lighters that need new batteries or whatever the heck lighters need constantly? This one uses electricity to light the candle and arches into the very bottom of a candle jar without burning your fingers. It’s also rechargeable via USB!
The Best Candles for Fall 2021
scent description: cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and other spices topped with creamy notes of vanilla
This is the fall candle for those who don't like firewood or pumpkin and instead want something fresh, sweet, and spicy—and this delivers.
scent description: clove, cinnamon, orange, apple cider, and nutmeg
For those who like to burn a candle for the entirety of their workday and don't want to spend a lot of money on it, this one will make your entire space smell like how I imagine the tent in The Great British Bake Off smells during the holidays.
scent description: crisp McIntosh apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg
Sometimes you just need a Glade candle. Affordable and ultra scented, the Apple Cinnamon candle from Glade is a classic. You’ll feel like you’re living inside a red delicious, and it’s not a bad place to be.
scent description: apples, red berries, oranges, cinnamon, cloves, nectar, and white musk
Who knew the scent of literal leaves would be so compelling? This smells exactly like stepping out your door to a perfect fall day, when there’s the slightest chill in the air and golden leaves crunch under your boots. It’s not too intense of a scent, so it’s perfect to burn for hours at a time (no scent headaches).
scent description: powder, coconut milk, sugar, lavender, palo santo, amber, musk, and sandalwood
A palette cleanser from rich, smokey, musky fall scents, Sweater Weather is a light and airy, burn-all-day candle. It's the ideal summer-to-fall transition candle, smelling just like pulling your sweaters out of the closet for the first time again.
scent description: pumpkin, cloves,
buttercream, cinnamon, smoke embers, and vanilla
This is what a PSL should smell like: not too sweet, not sticky, and not artificial. This scent is warm and soft with a hint of sweetness. You'll be burning it all day long.
scent description: smoldering woods, fire-roasted vanilla, and crystallized amber with essential oils
This candle is literally what you’d imagine sitting around a campfire and roasting marshmallows would smell like: It’s sweet, but the warm, fire smell keeps it from being too overwhelming. It’s the perfect hybrid between a sweet smell and a quintessential winter firewood smell.
scent description: red delicious apple, fall pumpkin, fresh ground cinnamon, and clove buds with essential oils
This is one of the most underrated candles at Bath and Body Works. It’s the perfect blend of pumpkin and apple, the season’s two reigning champs when it comes to scents. It’s great for fall, but it also has a little cheeriness that works through the holidays too.
scent description: cinnamon, patchouli, and tobacco
This Amazon find is delicious—let it transport you to a beautiful Hallmark-style log cabin getaway, complete with crackling fire and a sexy innkeeper. It’s woodsy with the tobacco, and the patchouli and cinnamon keep it sweet without going too musky.
scent description: heirloom pumpkin, creamy caramel, warm vanilla bean, and spicy cinnamon
This pumpkin candle is small but strong enough to burn for a while and permeate the entire home. If you want PSL burned into your taste buds and nostrils forever, this one is essential.
scent description: fresh greens, warm spice, earthy patchouli, blooming lily, sandalwood, musk, warm amber, and vanilla
If you prefer to embrace the season in a more subtle way, this scent is for you. Think of it like Southern California in the fall. Filled with earthy tones and just a hint of amber and musk, this candle is a year-round burn.
scent description: leather, teak, and orange
This is the essential tobacco scent—it might even be one of the closest dupes you’ll find to some of Tom Ford’s most famous scents. It smells exactly like drinking mulled wine in a cottage while someone you would really like to see naked smokes a cigar next to you. It’s not too strong either, so it’s the perfect candle for a bathroom or small space like your desk.
scent description: natural cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, orange, and cedarwood essential oils
This candle will instantly transport you to apple picking in New England while the leaves are changing. Guests will enter your apartment searching for fresh cider donuts. The underlying cedarwood helps elevate the scent and keeps it from smelling too sweet.
scent description: toasted pumpkin seeds, cardamom, nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon notes
Sometimes you just want to stick your face in a PSL and take a deep breath. This candle is exactly that with a hint of toasted marshmallow, but the clove and nutmeg add depth that keep it from being too sweet.
scent description: sandalwood, golden amber, and warm musk
This candle has everything you could ever want. The throw is fantastic (meaning the scent travels so you can smell it all throughout the room), it never tunnels, and the wick doesn’t get a mushroom top and cloud the wax, making it totally worth the somewhat higher price tag. The sandalwood notes are really strong in this, but the golden amber makes it a little lighter. Think Northern California vibes.
scent description: sandalwood, toasted walnut, and sweet hay
This vegan candle (one of the only on this list) is ideal for cuddling up with a fall book and your favorite fall beverage, thanks to its warm, light scent. If you love Rattan, Otherland even considers this an "autumnal riff" on their classic fragrance.
scent description: saffron, vetiver, and cedarwood
This smells like the hottest person you've ever seen wearing Baccarat after they've brought a handful of wood into a burning fire and sat in the smoke a little while. It perfectly combines sexy with woodsy to make the ideal date night scent.
We will note that if you are ordering this hoping the wood wick will crackle, think again—you'll have to turn on this ASMR video instead.
scent description: baltic amber, amber resin, sandalwood, and vanilla orchid
With notes of amber resin, sandalwood, and vanilla orchid, the Baltic Amber candle is the perfect mix of earthy and woodsy scents while still being subtly sweet. It will remind you of cozying up by the fire and staying warm under piles of cozy knit blankets on a cold, crisp autumn day.
scent description: cedar, labdanum, juniper berry, sawdust, and white musk
This is one of the most sophisticated candles we’ve ever smelled, as it’s sweet and musky at the same time. You really smell the cedar and wood, but the juniper berry makes this an all-year-round favorite. It’s a really layered scent that just smells expensive.
scent description: chestnut, charred-maple, orange-blossom, clove, cinnamon, embers, cedarwood, and guaiac
You know what’s instantly sexy? A pure black candle—ultra vampy and chic. This one smells exactly like what a black candle called “Charcoal” should smell like: lots of smooth smoke, like the back corner booth at a speakeasy.
scent description: hazelnut coffee, almond milk, honey, lavender, and vanilla
We know many people hate sweet scents, but they’re so lovely to use in your kitchen to make it smell like you’re always baking something delicious. This doesn’t necessarily smell like matcha, so if that was your worry, fear not. Instead, it leans heavily toward hazelnut coffee, vanilla, and a little bit of honey. Burn this in the morning when you’re brewing coffee, and it’ll be the perfect morning pick-me-up. Plus, this jar is huge, so it’ll last forever.
scent description: pumpkin, cinnamon, and whipped cream
Our girl Jackie Aina loves a sweet, gourmand scent, and I'll continue to buy them as long as she makes them. Unlike others though, this pumpkin dessert candle isn't too heavy or headache-inducing. It smells just like your mom baking her famous pumpkin roll in the kitchen while you're finishing up that last paper before Thanksgiving break.
scent description: wild pumpkin, spicy masala chai, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon
If fall had an influencer-approved candle, it would be this one. The smell is classically intoxicating, and the pumpkin notes are comforting, not overwhelming. The spice notes elevate this traditional scent and make it a splurge you’ll be happy with every time you strike a match.
scent description: nutmeg, clove, leather, jasmine, cade, vanilla, sandalwood, and amber
This intoxicating scent will make your home smell like a million bucks (without spending it). It's sexy and tough with the leather and cade, but hints of nutmeg and vanilla keep it sweet, while jasmine rounds it out with a fresh note. It's so layered and unique that you're bound to get asked where you bought it.
scent description: vanilla softened by smooth, woody accents
It may be called “vanille,” but don’t let the sweet name fool you. The main scent is vanilla, but it’s from black vanilla pods, so it’s a little more like earthy vanilla than what you use to bake cookies. Add in layers of leathery, smoky, and woodsy accents, and you have a complex, luxurious aroma you’ll want to burn until spring. It’s like lumberjack-cozy with a little extra elegance and sweetness.
scent description: birch, juniper, and cade
If you're dreaming of spending a weekend in a snowy cabin with nothing but a burning fire and a good book to keep you company, you'll want Feu de Bois burning in your home immediately. It smells like dried, burnt wood, and it makes your home feel warm and cozy—no blankets or old radiator heat required.
scent description: dwarf pine wood, atlas cedar, smoke, oak ash, cedar, birch, birch tar, and copaiba resin
This candle is the cabin in the woods. It is literally the exact scent that gets all over your clothes after a bonfire and you spend hours trying to get it out, but that’s what makes it so good. It instantly transports you to a camping trip or post-tailgate bonfires. It’s only a one-wick, but it is strong as hell, so keep it in a bigger area and don’t let it burn too long (this makes the price worth it since it’ll last forever).
scent description: pink pepper, primofiore lemon, neroli oil, rum absolute, clary sage oil, java vetiver oil, tobacco leaf absolute, vanilla bean, and styrax resin
If you've ever wondered what the VIP area of a speakeasy in December of 1927 smelled like, I'd reckon this is it. Tobacco and rum mix with vanilla bean and pink pepper to create one of the sexiest, coolest scents you've ever smelled. If you love the perfume, you'll love this candle just as much.