Wax On: Inside the Quirky World of Candle Bloggers
The most committed new cohort of lifestyle bloggers and vloggers doesn’t take #ootd pics or Instagram latte swirls. They obsess over candles with the same fervor as fine wine collectors. I talk to some of the web’s most dedicated wax lovers to find out what drives them.
1. They’re extreme scent geeks
For serious candle collectors, finding the perfect scent goes way beyond simply choosing between floral or fruity aromas. There’s a whole science behind what makes for a quality fragrance. “Does it smell like a pack of cheap waxy crayons or are there high quality fragrance oils packed into the wax?” asks Julie, who runs The Redolent Mermaid.
“As wax is warmed it can morph and transform into a different scent, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse,” explains Sunnee of Fragrance Obsessed. “If it smells light without burning, it probably won’t throw well.”
They also search out niche and limited edition fragrances—even influencing what brands create and sell. “The online community can really drive scent trends in the wax world,” says Deb of It’s Always Something. “A few years ago it was pink sugar blended with anything and everything. Then zucchini bread blends took over.”
2. You really don’t want to get between them and their candles
The candle obsessed can make even the most vicious, elbow-ready shopaholics look like saints. “The wax community is amazing for finding new scents and sharing hard to get products, but it’s also a source of drama and rivalry,” Deb explains. One of the most infamous incidents went down when YouTube candle vlogger Az4angela blasted a Bath & Body Works clerk in a F-bomb laced rant that went viral (it currently has over 1.4 millions views).
After calling ahead to see if three-wick winter candy apple and iced gingerbread scented candles were in stock, Angela travelled to the store only to find they were sold out. Chaos ensued. “This is going to be extremely explicit,” she warns at the video’s beginning. “So if you don’t like swearing or angry people from Wisconsin, then turn your mother-effing camera off now.”
TV producer Ryan Murphy even included a candle-obsessed vlogger on Scream Queens, Jennifer, who rather unfortunately met her demise when she was turned into a human candle (for real). Based on the character’s OTT vlog, it seems 100 per cent certain the character was definitely based on Az4angela.
Anything from poor customer service to shipping mishaps and long waitlists can put retailers in the line of fire. “I’m not shy about voicing my opinions on the current way so many indie vendors do business. Having to stalk sites for silent openings, having to join Facebook groups and get on waiting lists… are not things I’m willing to put up with,” says Deb.
Ironically, the candle crazed’s relentless search for the perfect candles sometimes puts small vendors out of business. “These poor indie vendors are usually just part-time hobbyists that get flooded with orders if it happens to be their time in the spotlight. Some vendors quickly fail because they can’t keep up,” says Deb.
3. Diptyque is the Hermès of candle brands
Candle collectors aren’t afraid to throw down some serious dough on waxed goods. “I’ve relaxed quite a bit in the last several months, but at the height of my purchasing I spent between $500 to $800 a month on wax and candles [italics ours]. Currently, I budget $100 a month,” says Sunne.
One of the most popular brands is French perfumer and luxury candle maker Diptyque, where candles can retail for up to $290 a pop. “Diptyque does not advertise. They don’t need to because their customers sing their praises like, all the time. The brand is heavily associated with creatives and the fashion world,” writes Quinn on her blog desgettier. Even Karl Lagerfeld and Manolo Blahnik have cited favourite Diptyque scents (Pomander and Tubereuse, respectively).
The brand’s most popular annual release is their limited-edition holiday collection, which they can’t seem to keep in stock. It’s common for shoppers to stalk the candles months ahead of time and pick up 15 to 30 candles at once when they hit shelves. Donna DiDonato, Diptyque’s US managing director, even told Racked the holiday season is “frightening.”
4. It’s all about the burn, baby
Scent is only the beginning when it comes to judging a candle. The quality of burn is a major factor for those in the know. “Does [the candle] melt evenly or tunnel, or do the wicks stay lit or keep snuffing out?” asks Julie.
Charlie, an engineer who runs thecandlereview.com, can’t help getting technical about his candle stash: “I unknowingly burned my first candle as inefficiently as possible. In my mind I had been defeated by a candle, so my engineering tendencies took over and I got onto the internet to research what the heck I was doing wrong.”
His blog has since been largely focused on best burning practices. “For example, I’d say one of the biggest mistake folks make when burning candles is not allowing them to burn long enough—especially the very first burn. You want the candle to burn long enough that it creates a liquid wax pool all the way out to the edge of the container.”
5. Their candle love has nothing to do with romance
While the casual observer often equates candles’ slow burn and seductive scents with romance, it barely enters the minds of candle devotees. “The ambiance of candle light is always romantic to me but I’ve never really connected candle light with my own personal, romantic relationships,” explains Sunnee.
For most bloggers, sharing their love of candles is about community and friendship.
“Romance has never entered my mind,” says Charlie. “When I first started the candle blog I thought it was probably too niche and that I’d probably be perceived as a strange weirdo. Admittedly it’s not a typical hobby (especially for a guy), but I was shocked when I signed up to Twitter and found hundreds of candle-centric accounts to follow within a matter of hours.”