Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Aldi's £9.99 trio of luxury scented candles - scoop up a Jo Malone dupe...and dare to play with fire! ;)

No 8 appears to have shifted in transit...
It may seem odd of me to be featuring a review of scented candles during weather that might cause the lawn to spontaneously combust at any moment. Well, I say that...as I type it has suddenly turned rather cloudy outside, and I am keeping a watchful eye on the washing. But it has been decidedly scorchio in recent days and additional sources of heat, however minimal, are the last thing on one's mind at such times. Added to which I am not normally a fan of scented candles...no, that is not right - I am, provided they steer well clear of the in-your-face fragrances of the dreaded Yankee Candle and its pound store ilk, together with some of the cruder fancy offerings at T K Maxx.

No, it is more that when I own a scented candle I tend not to light it, because I am very, very shaky - nay, wobbly - on wick care. I am dimly aware that there is a whole skill involved in maintaining wicks at an optimum height, not unlike a barber indeed with his Number 3 and 4 cuts, and I have never quite grasped it. On the odd occasions when I have burned candles, they often gave up the ghost after only burning a few mm, because I have accidentally managed to pull off the wick somehow, or bury it below the surface like a troublesome splinter, never to be prized free again. I have also had issues with 'smoke burn' (I may have made that term up), affecting the previously pristine white surface of the candle, along with something I will just refer to gnomically as 'hot bottoms'.

So dotted around the house are a number of examples of my 'very lightly burnt' scented candles, the complete combustion of which I have eschewed for one or more of the reasons above. And I also have a Roja Dove Sandalwood one which looks way too fancy to ever get cosy with a match. It has remained swaddled in bubble wrap for some years now. But as with wool and perfume, of which I have a glorious glut, sometimes I override all the mental brakes and levers telling me I don't need more examples of an item, and go and buy one anyway. Or in the case of the aforementioned Aldi trio of luxury scented candles, several!

The pineapple is also a candle!

Yep, for £9.99 you can buy three substantial, pleasingly heavy candles in glass jars, with chrome lids, with a cream and black label that screams 'Jo Malone'. The names are not merely cheekily similar to actual Jo Malone scents, but downright outrageously identical. My three pack comprises Red Roses, Wood Sage & Sea Salt, and Orris & Sandalwood. I have no idea how they even get away with that.

I hadn't noticed these candles myself, even though I shop at Aldi, because the multipack was being merchandised amongst the melee of non-food stuff in the middle of the store, where I don't tend to look, though I did get some bargain free weights and yoga socks there at Christmas! It was my good friend Lizzie who tipped me the wink, when I went round to her exquisitely decorated new home and spied one on the bathroom ledge (the only light in the room in fact, as she was waiting for an electrician to visit the following day ;) ), one on the dining room windowsill, and one in the living room fireplace. They were all burning away merrily, their unimpeded wicks clearly the result of expert trimming...and on closer inspection, they smelt delightful.

Which leads me to the point that these candles do not project their scent unduly - is there a word for the candle equivalent of 'sillage'? - but they look very classy in situ as they burn and have a lovely subtle scent when you are within range. And I really cannot stress enough how pleasantly surprised I was by just how high end the fragrances smelt. For the price it was truly uncanny, and as with some of the Lidl perfumes I have comprehensively covered on here down the years, I would like to shake their (doubtless highly covert!) perfumer by the hand, for he or she has done an extraordinary job with a minimal budget. Which is not to say that the ingredients - whether the wax itself, or the aromachemicals - will have cost the same as a proper Jo Malone, but at £3.33 a pop vs £45 the choice is a stark no brainer. And as I say these Aldi candles are streets ahead of other budget kinds I occasionally dare sniff in the likes of Home Bargains, B & M and Wilko.

I mention the wax possibly being different because of the intriguing warnings on the back of the box, the like of which I don't remember reading before. First and foremost, we are advised: "WARNING: CANDLES CAN CAUSE FIRES". Crikey, I would never have considered that. But that is just the start of it...We are also told:

"May produce an allergic reaction"

"Harmful to aquatic life with long lasting effects"

"Avoid release to the environment"

But hold on, how does one go about burning a candle in the first place without releasing its smoke / emissions to the 'environment' of one's living room? Or does the advice relate to the great outdoors? Are they saying it is okay to gas yourself and your goldfish quietly in the comfort and fragrant ambiance of your own home, but not to allow noxious particles to escape in your street for passers by to inhale? It's a conundrum. Interestingly, Red Roses is NOT deemed harmful to aquatic life. I just toss that titbit out there in case you were considering investing in a three pack and splitting it with friends. Give the fish owners the rose one, that would be the smart move.

I also learnt that you are meant to snuff out a candle, not blow it. I am not sure I have snuffed a candle out in my entire life. I thought that was something the Victorians did with special long handled metal snuffers. They are the sort of people who also used letter openers instead of ripping their post open with their bare hands like us modern folk. And you are meant to "keep the wax pool clear of matches and other debris to avoid flaring". Hmm, I think I may have had this flaring thing happen in the past, which could be what leads to my 'smoke burn'. But only from fragments of dead matches falling in there - and never deliberately allowed to fall in there - let alone 'other debris'. I wonder if people chuck used tissues on burning candles or exactly what "other debris" the manufacturers had in mind.

All of these warnings have rather served to reinforce my wariness around the whole tricky business of interacting with a candle, as there appears to be a strong safety dimension on top of my functional failure one.

And yet I shall light one of these candles when the weather properly goes over! I am feeling reckless. And keen to work on my wick whittling. Plus I have no fish! And even if I had, thanks to Truffle I wouldn't have them for long.

Finally, it says on the box that these candles are a limited edition, so I suggest that if you are not put off by the unnerving Health & Safety aspects, you hie thee to an Aldi sharpish before they are all gone. Bearing in mind that you may have to rummage amongst an eclectic mix of other household items to find them, as is the way with the discounters. But at that price it will be worth it, trust me.


Tiffanie said...

Hurrah, Aldi! I visited my local store yesterday. Very surprised to find three varieties of JM look-alike candles sold for $5.99 each. They are labelled English Pear & Freesia, Lime Basil & Mandarin, and Black Pomegranate. I sniffed and found all 3 very pretty. I like LB&M best so bought that one. The candle is 7 oz/200 grams in a heavy glass jar with a metal lid and black bow.

I hope Aldi in the United States will someday sell similarly scented perfumes. And If ever I make a trip across the Atlantic and can visit Lidl I hope they have a perfume treat on their shelves.

Nukapai said...

You'll be seeing those warnings a lot more as companies finally get CLP compliant. If a candle contained, say orange oil, sweet, it would trigger those hazard statements.

Vanessa said...

Hi Tiffanie,

Ah, interesting you mention those other candles in the line. I forgot to mention that my friend had also bought separate candles in the Lime, Basil & Mandarin and Black Pomegranate fragrances. At least 'Black Pomegranate' is a very slight deviation from the original JM name! I have sniffed both and also liked the LB & M one more out of the two, but both were well done. I hope you get to try more varieties where you live.

Vanessa said...

Hi Nukapai,

Well, well, and thanks for the heads up. I was rather taken aback at the warnings, as such statements have not registered with me before when I have bought candles; I assumed it might be to do with the fact that these are cheap and cheerful ones rather than a case of manufacturers gradually sorting themselves out in CLP terms (which I have now googled ;) ). I wonder if both fish and humans have issues with orange oil?

Tara said...

Hi V,
How on earth are they getting away with those identical names?! I expected them to be similar but not the same.
I lit my Otto candle in the Fornassetti holder a couple of times but it is a pretty heavy scent you have to be in the mood for.
I guess if you're going to take scented candles seriously you'd invest in a snuffer and wick cutter but not many of us would bother, I imagine.
I've stopped using Fairy liquid because of the danger to aquatic life warming but wouldn't dream of finding it on a candle!

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

It is incredibly cheeky, isn't it? Oh yes, I remember your beautiful Fornassetti candle. Can you describe its scent at all? Did it say anything about that on the packaging or are those candles more about the graphic design aspect rather than how they smell?

I did not know Fairy Liquid is dangerous to aquatic life. And now the penny is dropping that it means fish in rivers when the waste water from your house eventually reaches them. But how are fish affected by candles exactly, unless they are in your own home, breathing in the same fumes as their owner, as far as the medium of water permits...?

Tara said...

I found this on the Fornasetti candle "The signature 'Otto' scent, created by Master Perfumer Olivier Polge, is a sweet fragrance of Lavender and Thyme that also unveils rich and smoky aromas of
Cedarwood and Incense." Some of them have a floral scent.
Yes, it makes sense with the non-eco washing-up liquid but not with candles, especially if you burn them as intended rather than chuck them in the land-fill.

Mals86 said...

I wonder if the Aldi in my hometown (the closest to me... 50 miles away) might have candles! Might have to ask my mother to have a peep next time she goes.

I trim my wicks but never bother to snuff; I blow. I'm not sorry.

But tell me: what temperature, exactly, is scorchio in England? XO

Vanessa said...

Hi Mals86,

Lovely to hear from you! I had no idea till I wrote this post that Aldi had made it across the pond. Well worth sending your mother on a recce, I say.

An inveterate blower here too, haha.

Ooh, in The Midlands, scorchio starts about 23C? Down in London, where they are much more accustomed to hot summers, they probably wouldn't get excited below about 28C. ;)

Vanessa said...

Well, well, Olivier Polge no less. No wonder the candles cost a bob or two. Or an Olivier, in the event. Those notes are quite a mixture - herbal and incense and woody all in one. I am not normally one for lavender and thyme, but would be quite happy just to look at it and never light it!

Vanessa said...

PS And never throw it in the landfill either, obvs. ;)

Undina said...

I feel a little strange answering your question (I was sure someone would beat me to it) but candle’s “sillage” is called “hot throw” or just “throw.”
I like candles in theory but I rarely burn them. When I do, If those are candles in jars, I always put them out using the lid.
I’m impressed by those JM-lookalike (smellalike? ;)) candles, and at that price! I would have been hard-pressed not to buy them, all those warnings notwithstanding!
How does Truffle react to candles? Rusty hunts them, even after multiple burn incidents. This is one more reason I do not light them too often.

Oh, and finally, I’m laughing at your scorching 23C ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

How much do I love 'hot throw'! Thanks for enlightening me, no pun intended.

I didn't notice the warnings till I had got the candles home, but they wouldn't have put me off. You do have to live dangerously in pursuit of certain pleasures, from drinking wine to eating crisps - and lighting candles, as we now learn. ;)

Truffle is indeed as curious as Rusty, except she doesn't go in close enough to burn herself. I do have some photos of her sniffing candles when she was quite little. She is curious about most things, to be fair.

Haha, I am sure 23C would not be too hot to most people, but everything is relative!

Mals86 said...

I had to do the quick-n-dirty temps conversion. 28C is about 85F, which is warm, yes.

It was 91F here on Saturday. :D