One of my strengths in life has always been researching. I need my decisions and answers to be supported by facts and evidence, it’s just who I am. As a lawyer, research was about 75% of the job, so it came naturally to me. As a home blogger/creator, my research now mostly involves shopping around for the best price or the perfect piece of furniture.
In case you were curious, scouring the pages of Target, Anthropologie, and Amazon is a lot more fun than skimming hundreds of cases on Lexis.
So about a month ago, I set out to find the very best fall candle scents available this year. I rounded up about 15-20 candles from different retailers at all different price points, and got to work. I eliminated a few off the bat, but kept 12 different candles and then gave them a smell test. Oh, and I also dragged Robert (my husband, if you’re new here) into this pumpkin spice and everything nice experiment just so you don’t have to rely on only my opinion. We broke down twelve different candle scents, gave our thoughts on each, and then ranked our top choices (and named our least favorite candles too). We are not professional sniffers, so our takes are pretty amateur, but we had fun doing it!
The “Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice” Bracket
I’m not a pumpkin spice girl. There, I said it. I despise PSLs. And candles that smell like cotton candy and a jack-o-lantern had a baby are just not my vibe. But I told you I’m a RESEARCHER, so I purchased a few pumpkin-scented candles anyway in the name of science. And I’m so glad I did, because one of them ended up on my “favorites” list. I’m also not big on my house smelling like dessert (unless I’m baking), so I tend to shy away from anything too sweet. I do, however, enjoy a spiced cider scented candle, at least in theory. These six candles (in no particular order) all fall into one of those categories!
- Pumpkin Clove, Anthropologie
Description: The scent of creamy, buttery pumpkin with a touch of orange zest is wrapped within a savory vanilla and cinnamon base.
My thoughts (Callie): This is definitely the best version of pumpkin spice I’ve smelled. It’s also cute to put out on a table or shelf. I’m surprising myself because I really like this. But it’s strong, so I’d give it room to breathe (maybe don’t sit right next to it).
Robert’s thoughts: I like this scent, but it might give me a headache if I smelled it for too long.
- Harvest, Yankee Candle
Description: A blend of cinnamon, cloves, and musk with a hint of sweet apples and pumpkin. One of Yankee Candle’s best sellers.
Callie’s thoughts: This one gives me an instant headache. Sweet, spicy, and predictable. I don’t love it.
Robert’s thoughts: I smell pumpkin and corn. This is one that Grandma pulls out every fall because it will last forever.
- Salted Honey, Target
(No description provided.)
Callie’s thoughts: First of all, I LOVE the fluted container. I think this is my sleeper pick. It’s not too sweet, and it smells expensive, but it’s actually really affordable. (I think the small one is $6.99.) I’d put this in the kitchen and think it would look really cute on a tray or shelf.
Robert’s thoughts: This is an appropriate early fall scent. It’s more masculine than expected, and I did not think it was only $6.99.
- Sandalwood and Vanilla, Growing Candle
(No description provided.)
Callie’s thoughts: This company is based in Ohio, so they get hometown points off the bat. And I love that the candles come with packets of seeds so you can grow candles in the pots once the candle is done burning.
Robert’s Thoughts: It smells like cookie dough.
Callie: It smells like spiced cookie dough. In…a forest.
Robert: Like a gingerbread house? Like Hansel and Gretel?
Callie: No, not at all like that. But you get the idea. (This was at the end of the smelling session; I think the fumes were starting to get to us.)
- Hot Toddy, Anthropologie
Description: Honeycrisp Apple & Cinnamon: smells like rye relief and plentiful pours.
Callie’s thoughts: I love this scent combination, in theory. It’s not my favorite overall, but it’s my favorite spiced cider scent of the bunch.
Robert’s thoughts: I smell cider. It smells really good. But I think if I walked in and you were burning this candle, I’d be sad that it wasn’t a real hot toddy.
- Spiced Cider, Anthropologie
Description: Sparkling berries and grapes mix with harvest apple and cinnamon within a soothing vanilla and Canadian fir base.
Callie’s thoughts: “Oooff.”
Robert’s thoughts: It’s very pungent. But it does smell like spiced cider.
Callie: I concur. It’s too strong and too spicy. I really thought I was going to love this one though.
The “It Smells Like Outside” Bracket
Now these candles are my wheelhouse. I love sandalwood, amber, firs, and cedars. The muskier the better. I like when my house smells like we’re having a fire, without having to do the actual work of lighting a fire.
- Book Club, Homesick
Description: there’s nothing like curling up with a book during a rainy day as the smell of warm nutmeg, amber, and sandalwood fill the room as you turn each page. This 13.75 oz scented candle is the perfect accessory for your home and office as it will bring back memories through nostalgic scents. Natural and sustainable materials with fragrant Top Notes of Orange, Nutmeg; Mid Notes: Cinnamon, Sandalwood; Base Notes: Vanilla, Balsam, Amber.
Callie’s thoughts: I’ve talked about this one before. I love this scent. It’s reminiscent of “Book Shop” from Hearth and Hand’s candle line a few years ago. (Although book shop was better.) I keep this in our office, but it would obviously be great in a reading nook or library too.
Robert: This smells like rich, wet books. This is not pleasant.
- Birchwood and Cashmere, Anthropologie
Description: Woody and floral: soft birchwood and cashmere are wrapped in iris and jasmine flowers touched by wild cassis.
Callie’s thoughts: Soft, subtle, and sophisticated. I really like this. It’s not necessarily a “fall” candle, but it has a woodsy, floral scent. (I wrote that before reading the description, ha!)
Robert: I like this. This would be a good bedroom nightstand candle.
- Fireside, Apotheke
Description: Notes: Top: citron, bergamot. Middle: clove bud, cinnamon leaf, raspberry. Base: musk, charcoal.
Callie’s thoughts: Okay, so I got this candle technically as a holiday candle, but I’m including it here because I used it last week and it works for fall for me too. I burned this candle all winter last year. Apotheke has amazing candles, I truly love all of their scents.
Robert’s thoughts: A very woodsy smell, this is the best one so far.
- Sunday, Sunday Candle Co.
Description: Top Notes : Saffron, Mandarin. Middle Notes : Amber. Base Notes: Fir Resin, Cedar, Musk. This scent has such an enveloping, airy presence. It’s floral-meets-woody and smells powerfully sophisticated.
Callie’s thoughts: Honestly, this smells like a year-round candle, but it’s also perfect for fall, especially early fall. No spice, it’s subtle, and I could burn it all day long.
Robert’s thoughts: This is my surprise favorite. It’s a “read a book on the couch and light a candle” candle. (Did my husband just say this? I love it. –Callie)
- Flannel, Sweet Water Décor
Description: SCENT NOTES: Top: Vanilla Bean, Almond, Caramel. Middle: Coriander, Ginger, Bay Leaf, Clove, Cinnamon. Bottom: Leather, Amber, Tonka, Smoky Woods, Cashmere Musks. Flannel is a soft but bold fragrance blending the sweet and woodsy notes of fall together perfectly. Imagine being at a bonfire with your best friends having the time of your lives. Vanilla, caramel, cinnamon, amber, tonka, smokey woods and musk make this a one-of-a-kind fall scent.
Callie’s thoughts: Woodsy, with just a hint of sweet, so it doesn’t just smell like a campfire.
Robert’s thoughts: This reminds me of a log cabin.
- Baltic Amber, Anthropologie
Description: (Woody Warm): Forest scents of sandalwood and cedar.
Callie’s thoughts: This is more subtle than “Flannel,” but with a similar scent. Less spice, and also almost…soapy?
Robert’s thoughts: Flannel is better.
We both decided it was too hard to rank them, so we ended up picking a few of our favorites, in no particular order.
After this, I ended up burning Salted Honey in the kitchen for a bit, and lit Pumpkin Clove in the living room. I also really like Sunday, and I have to include Fireside, because it’s one of my only candles that I’ve actually burned all the way to the bottom.
Hot Toddy, Sunday, Fireside, and if I have to choose a fourth because you broke the rules and added a fourth, then Birchwood and Cashmere.
Our least favorites
Callie’s least favorites: Spiced Cider and Harvest
Robert’s least favorites: Spiced Cider, Sandalwood and Vanilla, Baltic Amber
Did I leave your favorite off the list? Let me know in the comments!
*Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.