Some Candles Are Too Pretty to Burn—Or Are They?
We tested them out so you don’t have to.
Published Feb 26, 2020 12:00 AM
“If you love something, let it go,” goes the old adage—but yet we cling to certain trendy, sculptural candles without so much as lifting a match in their general direction. The prospect of setting them aflame feels risky and bittersweet, their beauty suddenly made temporary. But let’s not get overdramatic. Candles are made to be burned—so if you’ve been worried about exactly how that one shaped like a tiny person will look once you’ve lit it, never fear: We found out for you.
If you’re hesitating to light that multicolored pillar, that pastel blob, or that impressive bust, here’s what you can expect nine of the coolest options to look like after five hours of being lit. Not all of the candles withstood this test of time, but rest assured—it’s mesmerizing to watch regardless.
The Helping Hand
Burn time: 75 minutes The meltdown: Dramatic and fast—with a total of five wicks (one in each finger, except the middle, plus one in the palm), this anatomically accurate candle pooled into a dark teal puddle, with a just barely there skeleton remaining. Should you burn it? Only if you’re willing to let it go after one burn (perhaps during a gothic dinner party?)—otherwise keep those matches away.
Burn time: Five hours and counting The meltdown: Way better than anticipated—this one had a slow dissolution (Marie’s head was left largely intact) with no errant wax spills whatsoever. Should you burn it? Sure! We can’t help but imagine how spooky it would look halfway melted down. Admittedly, though, this candle is on the pricier side, so if you want to keep it as a sculpture, that’s a fair call, too.
Burn time: Five hours and counting The meltdown: Very gradual, with a satisfying trickle that doesn’t take away from its shape. Should you burn it? Definitely. This candle by Michele Oka Doner certainly looks intriguing in its pristine condition, but a little bit of drippage adds to the character of its ridges.
Burn time: Five hours and counting The meltdown: It kept its shape well, with just a slight circular indentation forming around the wick. Should you burn it? Absolutely. This orb is even more alien-like when you put it to use.
The Kooky Cube
Burn time: Five hours and counting The meltdown: Quite tidy (there was only one small spill down the side). Should you burn it? Though its intricate design makes it seem like it might liquefy into an amorphous glob, its nubby sides hold up.
The Pristine Pillar
Burn time: Five hours and counting The meltdown: Delightfully drippy, taking its time before blurring the layers. Should you burn it? Yes. Part of the fun is seeing how its colors collide.
The Neon Twist
Burn time: Five hours and counting The meltdown: Smooth, slower than expected, and fuss-free—it looks exactly the same as it did preburn, just shorter. Should you burn it? Definitely. This vibrant, twisty option is a fun alternative to your go-to tapers.
The Double Prong
Burn time: 90 minutes The meltdown: Faster than expected—the pillars crashed into each other and eventually pooled onto the tabletop. Should you burn it? In short increments, if at all. Since it’s gone in a blink, it might be best used as a sculptural element in a tablescape—no fire necessary.
The U Haul
Burn time: Five hours and counting The meltdown: Neat and perfectly even. Should you burn it? Totally—with its stately structure, brass base, and substantial life span (about 25 hours total), this piece is a great 24-7 dining table fixture. Who says you can’t eat dinner by candlelight every night?