Ah, winter: the season of Christmas trees, string lights, holiday parties—and excessive, expensive scented candles. There's something about the months between November and January that seem to inspire a desire to fill our homes with scent, and it's so often very bad scent.
Look, I'm not saying all scented candles are bad (in fact, see below for some that emit subtle smells that are actually lovely) but, sorry, many of them are. At the time of year when chilly weather already forces us to be cooped up inside with windows shut, must we be suffocated by the cloying sweetness of cinnamon spice, pumpkin extravaganza, or peppermint-scented hot wax? Must entry to a Christmas Party necessitate a reflexive covering of the nose and mouth to prevent me from asphyxiating on a "fir" scent that no closer resembles any naturally grown tree than these Pepto Bismol pink specimens?
Besides, there's something about the eye-watering strength of the worst scented candles that leads me to believe inhaling them continuously for four straight months cannot possibly be good for you. The ultimate irony is that most of the worst offenders in the Winter Candle assault on the senses are actually created to smell like natural things: pumpkins, mint, pine, cinnamon. But once devised from mixtures of chemicals in what I can only imagine as the steamy, fume-filled lair of an evil Disney villain bent on destroying the noses of innocent townspeople, the final products bear either no resemblance to their intended inspiration or present such a concentrated version of it that you'll never truly be able to appreciate (or even recognize) the real thing again. I fear the dystopian future in which the human race can no longer appreciate the scent of a freshly felled evergreen, so hungry are they for its souped-up wax cousin.
All that is to say, this season, if you're hankering for a certain aroma, consider some of these more natural options. Decorate with real evergreen branches; bake a pumpkin pie; mull some cider or wine on the stove. And if you're still itching for a candle, the ones below are actually pleasant.
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