Scented Candles

Scents and sensibility

Fragranced candles evoke distant memories and remind us of exotic escapes. What better time to make the most of home life (and home offices) than right now? We ask the experts what you should burn.

While 2020 may not have been much of a year for mankind, it’s certainly been quite the year for scented candles. Global media did a double-take when Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s polarising but profitable ‘potions and notions’ company, released the first of her bougie creations, named This Smells Like My Vagina. Product packaging describes the immediate sell-out as ‘a funny, gorgeous, sexy and beautifully unexpected scent’ with a fragrance profile that includes geranium, citrusy bergamot, cedar absolutes, Damask rose and ambrette seed. Rather a lot going on down there. Or as columnist Hadley Freeman so humorously reviews in The Guardian, “I’ve read entire wine menus with fewer descriptive references.” Laughable or not, by midway through the year, the Goop success was followed by another – Gwyneth’s follow-up candle, This Smells Like My Orgasm.

September saw the launch of fashion brand Loewe’s home fragrance range that includes candles in matching wax holders. The brainchild of creative director Jonathan Anderson, and created in partnership with the brand’s perfumer Nuria Cruelles, the striking collection includes hot-trend kitchen garden scents that include beetroot, pea, tomato leaves and marihuana.

With this flurry of chandler activity in mind, and given that this year’s witnessed more of us staying home and accessorising home offices than ever before, we felt the time was right to ask the creatives behind our choice local candle brands to clue us in on their favourites, their best-sellers and their stand-out scents. Four distinctive fragrance trends emerged.

Scented Candles mind and body
MIND AND BODY (from left)
“Palo Santo is considered a sacred and shamanic wood in Peru. It is fantastic for negating bad energy within or around you. It centres and grounds, and is brilliant for creativity, as well as for easing oneself into sleep. Because it can be an intense scent, I’ve softened it with vanilla and the sweeter, earthier rosewood, and added patchouli for grounding. The wax is organic – soy, coconut and beeswax, and so can be used as massage oil, with no toxins inhaled. The Palo Santo comes from a reforestation programme in Cusco, Peru and my oils are sourced from environmentally conscious farms, mainly in South Africa. Evolution with Palo Santo is a blend I use in my studio when I create other potions!”
– Nics Wolman, founder of Petrichor
250g, R380 | 

“I consider our Heart Chakra candle’s scent of jasmine flower blended with rosewood and ylang ylang both beautiful and calming. On trend for the new wellbeing and self-awareness lifestyle approach, the candle is handcrafted and includes essential oils that resonate with the heart chakra’s life lessons of contentment, self-love and acceptance. We’ve created it with your daily self-care ritual in mind, and with the intention that it creates a sacred and safe space in your home where good intentions can grow.”
– Eliana Haniff, director of Africology
250ml, R339 |

“For centuries people have used botanical extracts and oils, for their therapeutic properties, to unlock each Chakra and help align and heal our bodies. Inspired by my childhood friend Iulia’s passion for yoga at Bucharest’s Pawan Studio, I have created this collection of seven botanical candles specifically as aroma-therapeutic candles to be burned during meditation, yoga practice, or in your private sanctuary. Poured in handmade porcelain containers, they follow the specifics of the chakras from colour and symbol to the essential oil blends. This particular candle includes vetiver, lemongrass, peppermint and frankincense serrata.”
– Marioara de la Tara, creative director of Wild Olive
200g, R495 |
Scented Candles
KITCHEN GARDEN (from left)
STELLENBERG No. II, Stellenberg Gardens
“Ranging in scent from floral to fynbos, the six Stellenberg Gardens candles are inspired by my desire to reproduce some of my experiences while walking through the different gardens within the property. The ranking of my favourite candle is difficult, but candle No. II takes the winning place because it is a unique fragrance that I never tire of. Coincidentally, it happens to be our bestseller, I think because of its soothing Artemesia (African wormwood), a popular and indigenous South African healing plant. This is combined with rose geranium, lavender and spearmint. For me, this combination of delicate African oils perfectly captures the fragrance of Stellenberg’s herb garden on a summer evening.”
– Malu Ovenstone, founder of the Stellenberg Gardens candle collection
200g, suggested retail R480 |

KITCHEN GARDEN, Babylonstoren
“I have been working with fragrance for the past ten years at Babylonstoren and have been guided and inspired by a ‘nose’ muse who has taught me so much. My knowledge of food, taste and flavour combinations has stood me in good stead, as I understand the interplay of flavours, which is extremely useful when blending fragrance. Global fragrance trends are moving towards earthy and vegetable notes. Our gardens and orchards, famous for their fruit, vegetables and herbs (and where we distil our own citrus, lavender, rose geranium and rosemary essential oils) inspired the Kitchen Garden candle. Its scent captures the essence of basil and mint and is a fusion of taste and smell. I love that it pairs beautifully with summer alfresco dining.” 
– Maranda Engelbrecht, creative director of Babylonstoren
250g, R350 | 

“During my last trip to France’s Loire valley I stayed in a chateau where there was a passion fruit vine in full bloom outside my window. I read up about passion fruit – it derives its name from South American Catholic missionaries who believed the passion bloom was symbolic of the Passion of Christ. This moved me so much I immediately asked my candle maker to secure the passion fruit fragrance for me. It is fruity, sweet and tart all at the same time. The scent is currently exclusive to Masquerade and the candle comes in a monogrammed bone china jar. The scent evokes memories of happy times…sunshine, play and laughter.”
– Marti Foster, owner of Masquerade
260g, R395 |
Scented Candles
“After attending a brass pouring demonstration at a foundry in Salt River, where I was inspired by the deep, raw and earthy scent of the liquid brass, I set about creating The Foundry range. It includes Raw Copper, an earthier scent, as well as Oudh- which I consider to be woody and aromatic. Often known as ‘liquid gold’, oudh is a dark and sensual fragrance that comes from the resin of the Southeast Asian Agar tree, with the best oudh coming from the oldest and most scarce trees.”
– Gary Pearson, owner of Charisma
250g, from R279 |

“A trend I’m seeing in perfumery is unisex fragrances. Our Black Gold candle is completely unisex and delivers a trendy oudh note with a decadent gourmand twist. Both the oudh ingredient and gourmand fragrances in general are on trend and rising in popularity in the perfume world. We have spliced them together to create Black Gold. It is a rich and bold fragrance blended with notes of aniseed, rum, honey and tobacco, and is a tribute to the conservation of Africa’s endangered wildlife, with a percentage of every candle purchase donated to the Care For Wild rhino sanctuary.”
– Suzanne Snowdowne, co-founder of Cape Island
250ml, R320 | 

JUNIPER, New Harbour Distillery
“A candle that smells like gin? Enough said! South Africa’s gin trend is far from over and these candles sell out very quickly – they’re on-trend with our customers’ love for all things gin. Over the past year I’ve mastered the art of making candles, something I see as an add-on to our craft spirit range. When deciding on the scent for the candles I stayed true to the essence of New Harbour Distillery’s craft distilled spirits, choosing botanicals that reflect our love for juniper, the key ingredient in gin. I wanted to create a candle that can bring joy, wonder and relaxation to South African homes and workspaces.”
– Andri Janeke, creative director of New Harbour Distillery
275ml, R150 |
Scented Candles
THE NEW FLORALS (from left) 
“I wanted to create a range of candles with fragrances that reflect the distinctiveness of the Cape’s floral kingdom and that evoke memories of moments and moods familiar to anyone who has spent time in the vast expanses of the Western Cape and Karoo. I commissioned Wild Olive to create four bespoke scents to be poured into reusable vessels which Avoova designed and decorated with our signature ostrich eggshell veneer. The Acacia Plains fragrance is reminiscent of the intoxicating smell of fynbos on golden evenings when the heat of the day gives way to a mellow gentleness. It delivers the headiness of fynbos and cedarwood, the warmth of African berries and the woodiness of Buchu.”
– Tom Goddard, director of Avoova
180g, R1 800 |

TERRACE BREEZE, Amanda Jayne Candles 
“This is the newest addition to my range and my most on-trend for the year given that rich floral scents are a popular choice for many. When creating the fragrance I combined the strong white floral of herbaceous tuberose – I love its enthralling scent of fruit and honey – and sweet jasmine, and, for depth, paired them with the woody and spicy notes of vetiver, pepper and sandalwood.”
– Amanda Cumming, founder of Amanda Jayne Candles
220g, R350 | 

BUJI JUJI, Juj Living
“Buji Juji is the debut candle from my bespoke home additions collection, Juj Living Homeware. It comes in a Blue Willow ceramic container handmade by Mervyn Gers Ceramics. Inspired by my favourite French perfume, I created the scent in a time of unrest, intending for it to feel comforting in these unprecedented times, and to evoke the exploratory part of us that wants to escape, relax and retreat. On a base of soft and familiar vanilla bourbon I’ve paired neroli and jasmine for floral jauntiness, while lime exudes the exotic. Its unique blend of beloved jungle blossoms and citrus notes will gently transport you to faraway lands.”
– Juliette Arrighi de Casanova, founder of Juj Living
155ml, R295 |
Words: Martin Jacobs
Styling and Photographs: Martin Jacobs

*Products and prices checked at time of going live. Whilst every care is taken to ensure accuracy, (and the suppliers featured) cannot be held liable for any errors.