Burning a scented candle is an effortless way to create a cozy, luxurious, or tranquil mood in any room. We spent 27 hours researching and testing 32 candles under $50, and we found several warm and woodsy, fresh and floral, and sweet and citrusy candles for all of your olfactory endeavors. Whether you want your home to smell like a Provençal perfumery or you just need to mask some persistent pet odors, we’ve got you covered.
Our favorite warm and woodsy candles
Boy Smells Hinoki Fantôme Candle
Who this is for: Someone who likes warm, woodsy scents but doesn’t want to feel like they’re at a literal campfire.
Why it’s great: The Boy Smells Hinoki Fantôme Candle has a complex, hard-to-pin-down scent (hinoki is a Japanese cypress tree, and fantôme is the French word for ghost). At the forefront, there’s an earthy woodsmoke tinged with warm amber, sweet vanilla, and just a bit of mossy freshness and florals. It’s fragrant but not ostentatious, providing an elegant, aromatic backdrop for any occasion—whether it’s a dinner party or a day spent daydreaming. The wick is well centered, allowing for an even burn, and the wax is neatly poured. In our melt test, this candle shed 12 grams of wax, which we calculate should give it a total burn time of 20 hours. We like the contrast of the white wax and wick with the black glass vessel, and the signature black-and-pink label is sophisticated and striking.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: We noticed that several of the Boy Smells candles’ labels were not applied perfectly straight on the vessel, and the glossy exterior of the glass tends to show fingerprints. These are small quibbles, but they affect the overall aesthetic. Also, these candles tend to burn with lots of soot, but the black vessel helps to hide it, and you can improve the burn by trimming the wick regularly. Lastly, this candle doesn’t come with a lid. We’d prefer that it had one since a lid will help seal in the scent and maintain its potency, as well as prevent dust from accumulating on the surface of the wax.
We also loved: The scent of Boy Smells’s Polyamberous Candle is beautiful and eclectic—with notes of geranium, tobacco flower, tonka bean, spices, and incense. We prefer our pick’s classic looks and woodsy scent, but this one is a close second.
P.F. Candle Co. Amber & Moss Standard Soy Candle
Who this is for: Someone who wants to feel like they’re on a long—yet entirely unstrenuous—walk through a lush alpine forest.
Why it’s great: The P.F. Candle Co. Amber & Moss Standard Soy Candle has an even-keeled smell of pine resin and earthy moss, peppered with notes of minty eucalyptus and rich vanilla. The wick is well centered, and the wax is evenly poured. P.F. Candle Co.’s signature vessel (an amber-colored jar with a gold lid and brown paper label) is unfussy, allowing it to blend in seamlessly with most decor. The lid is also practical for containing any lingering smoke after you snuff out the candle. Compared with most candles we tested, this one is a bargain in terms of cost per ounce ($2.80) and longevity (it lost just 9 grams of wax over an hour in our melt test, giving this candle a calculated burn time of 23 hours). Deputy editor Jason Chen (who has admitted to splurging upwards of $100 on a single candle) said this is one of his favorite scents, and senior staff writer Lesley Stockton (who told us she tends to “hate most scented candles”) is also a fan.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Although we appreciate the utilitarian aesthetic of this vessel on the whole, its faux-typewritten label feels a bit flimsy. If that bothers you, though, it’s easy enough to remove it with a razor blade or turn it so the label faces a wall—the amber-colored jar looks great on its own. This is also not the most strongly scented candle we tested, which might be a letdown for people who prefer a powerful scent. But it offers a more-nuanced and complex fragrance than most candles in this price range.
We also loved: The P.F. Candle Co. Golden Coast Standard Candle has a pine-forward scent and undercurrents of wild sage, warm honey, and sea salt. We think the Amber & Moss is more complex and enjoyable overall, but this one is a great alternative.
Paddywax Tobacco Flower Form Candle
Who this is for: Someone who wants to fill their home with a subtle, smoky-sweet scent—and who has an eye for tasteful earthenware.
Why it’s great: The Paddywax Tobacco Flower Form Candle has notes of orange, cinnamon, patchouli, clove, and sandalwood—and though it doesn’t contain nicotine, its smoky-sweet fragrance is certainly habit-forming. It makes us want to throw on a bluegrass record and sew a patchwork quilt. The scent is warm, spicy, earthy (but not musty), and faintly floral, like a sprig of jasmine. This candle costs around $2.70 per ounce, and we think the vessel alone—which is sturdy, stylish, and unbranded, with a matching ceramic lid—makes it well worth the price. You can easily reuse it as a trinket container, or (if you’re crafty) this vessel is a prime candidate for refilling with a new candle. In our testing, the Paddywax candle lost 13 grams of wax over an hour, so it should last about 26 hours, based on our calculations. And this candle has two wicks, which help it burn more evenly since it’s rather large. Senior photo editor Sarah Kobos, who grew up near the Paddywax factory in Nashville, said she loves all of this company’s candles, and she stocks up whenever she’s in the area.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: This isn’t the most potent fragrance, compared with those of many of our picks, but it still provides a homey aromatic backdrop. It also has a somewhat sloppy pour, with rogue ripples of wax around the perimeter. But we don’t think that’s a huge deal—if you let the wax melt all the way to the edges on the first burn, that should smooth them out.
We also loved: The Paddywax Spanish Moss Form Candle has the same great vessel as the Tobacco Flower candle—albeit with a different geometric design and a green glaze instead of white. And this one is even more potent. To us, it smells like melon, honeysuckle, bee pollen, rainwater, thickets of marsh grass, and creeping vines.