4 Not-Gross Pumpkin Candles That Deserve A Sniff

Dare I say, "sophisticated pumpkin candles"?
Caroline G.
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Dare I say, "sophisticated pumpkin candles"?

To me, the approach of autumn means the arrival of two major life improvements: 1) that I can finally wear my leather jacket and Docs, and 2) that I can stock up on a veritable mélange of seasonal goods. Real-talk: I’m mostly stoked to break out my basic-bitch-approved pumpkin candles.

pumpkin scented candle

However, I have yet to discover a pumpkin candle, that Holy Grail of seasonal scents, that doesn’t smell like a potpourri cornucopia doused in Glade Pumpkin Pie Diner room spray.

So today I’ve rounded up four not-gross, mostly-sophisticated candles to rectify this sad lack of pumpkin in my life and abode.

Illume Heirloom Pumpkin Large Tin Candle ($18)

illume heirloom pumpkin large tin candle

My personal favorite.

When lit among a group of twenty-something girls, this candle elicits universally intense reactions, all of which resemble climax and/or swooning like an Ed Sullivan-era Beatles fangirl. It’s my favorite of the bunch, too: The top note is warm and sweet, like burnt brown sugar, but a spicy cinnamon bite tempers the syrup. I also detect clean, masculine hints of woody pine, conjuring a soft-spot suggestion of your high school boyfriend’s Old Spice deodorant. The burn time on this non-metal, lead-free wick is 55 hours of cinnamon-sugary bliss.

Bath and Body Works Mini Candles (3 for $10)

bath and body works pumpkin candles

A trio of deliciousness.

Bath and Body Works carries no less than 11 variations on pumpkin scents. When I visited, the store was offering a 3-for-$10 deal on Mini Candles. After a solid 10 minutes of studied sniffing, I picked up their Pumpkin Cupcake, Pumpkin Pecan Waffle, and Caramel Pumpkin Swirl candles (can you tell I have a sweet tooth?). A whiff of the Pumpkin Cupcake transports me back to those be-frosting’d elementary school Halloween class parties; the Pumpkin Pecan Waffles smells dangerously similar to Cinnamon Toast Crunch, my poison of choice as a snot-nosed sugar addict. The Caramel Pumpkin Swirl is the sweetest of the bunch. Burning all three successively is not for the faint of heart--my apartment smells like the scene of a mass murder at Candy Castle--but the scents are mostly pleasant: rich, nutty, and buttery. These suckers burn for 10 hours each.

Nest Fragrances Classic Candle in Pumpkin Chai ($34)

nest pumpkin chai classic candle

Sophisticated, warm, basically perfect.

If you’re basing your candle-purchasing decision on aesthetics alone, choose this: The sleek, coffee-colored glass holder, perched elegantly on my side table, makes me feel like a sophisticated, capital-A Adult. Courtesy of the peppery chai infusion, it’s also the spiciest and most complex of the haul; had seasonal candles existed in the 19th century, I could imagine a Wilde-ian dandy burning this beauty in his boudoir. (Pumpkin and opium mix nicely together, right?) A hint of fresh melon keeps it sharp, and an endorphin-boosting vanilla note leaves me feeling blissful and kind of cuddly. In fact, I think it has aphrodisiacal qualities. Burn time: about 50 hours.

Linnea’s Lights Pumpkin Soy Candle ($32)

linnea's lights pumpkin soy candle

So fresh and so clean.

This natural, lead-free, hand-poured candle is clean in both production and smell: unlike the languidness of the Nest candle, or the ecstasy-inducing qualities of the Illume, this double-wick candle is actually refreshing. The initially sweet, apple-y tang gives way to a soapy undertone, which is less detergent-like than it is pleasantly restorative. And the nostalgia factor is in full force here, as I think I’m getting sugary hints of Fruit By The Foot beneath the bite of a fall-fresh breeze. Burn time: 60 hours.

I know I’m not alone in my love for pumpkin-scented miscellany. There’s a reason why, come September, smell-centric brands show hardcore commitment to the trend: pumpkin is an inherently nostalgic scent, pandering directly to our warm-and-fuzzy heart centers. Plus, pumpkin is straight-up yummy. Embrace the basic within!

Now I want to hear from you: What's the best, decidedly not-stank pumpkin candle you've ever sniffed?

Photos by Danielle Goldstein