12 dicembre 2013

Candles: usage directions (2/2)

La Fàbula - El Greco (1580)
"A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark" D. Alighieri

In the first part we've seen what makes a difference in terms of quality for an unscented candle, that means a good wax and wick. Now let's focus on what's left to make it a fine scented candle: the fragrance, the burning, the packaging and, first of all the concept behind it.

The fragrance: the essence of modernity
Sometimes modern fragrances are built on a circular structure or a star architecture rather then following the classic paradigm top-heart-base proposed by Jean Carles. Another modern element in fragrances is brevity, that neatness so well mastered by Jean Claude Ellena in avoiding redundancies of raw materials and effects. According to this, nothing can be considered as modern as home fragrances since in a candle notes don't develop slowly but evaporate all together making a whole olfactory imagine where too slight facets would be crushed. The skill is exactly to be able to sketch that image with few raw materials, so their quality is crucial to render a rich, natural texture.
Once the accord is ready, the concentrate is poured little by little into the melted wax (a oily base)keeping on mixing it till the wax is able to diluite it. The denser the concentrate, the harder it will mix. As also Linda Pilkington told me it's tricky and only trying one can determine each time the right proportions for a fragrance. Usually it is between 8% and 12% but then if the fragrant output of the trial candle isn't satisfying, we have to start all over again.
Footnote: be careful to how candles are kept. I've seen the poor candles tortured by spotlights and heating in some shops. Too much heating soften the wax making the fragrance oil appear on the surface and then going bad. Check them out before buying and be sure they're in good condition and the wax is intact.

The combustion: light my fire!
One of the things that makes me keen on candles that lacks in other home scents is that a candle "lives" with who uses it. A candle keeps good company and once lit up, you better don't leave it alone.
Moreover a candle burns little by little, so you have to light and put it out looking after it to enjoy it at best. Actually before lighting a candle you should clean the residual combustion products from candle and glass and trim the wick leaving it few millimeters long so to avoid smoke. It's also possible to trim it when the wax is still hot but of course you'll need a wick trimmer.
Are you ready? Get a lighter or a match (i.e. long matches are very useful when the candle is at the end), steady, go! Light the fire! The flame should burn slowly, without smoke and should melt all the wax so that the candle shortens evenly. It is also important to keep the wick always in the middle to avoid holes.
If you feel like a skilled magician you can put the flame out by pinching it with your fingers but better you try with a snuffer if you don't want to roast your fingertips. No blowing: aside the risk of making a mess with hot wax, smoke would ruin scent of the room.

The packaging: looks also count
Once understood we're in front of a candle that's worth to be lit, we can also indulge the whims of sight. Packaging should be also useful though, not only beautiful. The glass has to be solid, made of glass or porcelain or other materials insulating from heat allowing so to handle it. It's not so nice to see label corners unstick and fold from your precious candle, so labels must have simple shape, nice graphics and solid materials keeping them tightly sticked to the glass. Even better if graphics are impressed on the glass.
Candle tops are not only ornamental accessories but also protect the wax from dust that would cause smoke while burning. Unfortunately not all the candles come with a candle top and sometimes it is sold separately. Anyway you can always keep the candle in its box. What about the glass once the candle is over? It can be used as a glass, a pen holder or for example to pot hyacinth bulbs that will bloom in full winter.

Il concept: wonderful thought
Let's call it inspiration too but it's the red thread linking a candle, its scent to its packaging and the home fragrances collection to the brand identity. As for personal fragrances, a brand placing itself with a certain image (and a certain price target) necessarily will have to be up to the task in every detail. For example travels inspired candles of course have to make your senses travel with your nose and also the packaging has to conjure up a connection with both travels and the aesthetics of the brand. The right concept well implemented succeede in making a candle a total experience, a magic ritual for themselves or a special welcome to dear ones coming to our house.

<Part 1>

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