The bliss of comfort and candlelight

Tapers, lanterns and votives, glow in company against an iridescent gold wall. Mix up your arrangements in a small lighting event.

We’re led by our nose and eyes when shopping for scent in a candle but Kya deLongchamps says buy a brand you trust.

Glass icicles and melting snowballs are conjured in Spears by Anna Ehrner, €35, Iapetus and other Kosta Boda stockists.

The Georgian Collection, Dining Room. From €19.95 for a 70g candle. Irish Country House Collection

Tapers, lanterns and votives, glow in company against an iridescent gold wall. Mix up your arrangements in a small lighting event.

Silver plated tealight ring, €93.50, Advetino

Christmas is a soft glimmer away, and with the nights closed in around us, comfort and candlelight seem natural spouses. Whether you light a candle for your own stolen pleasure or set the table ablaze for a dinner party, including real flame lighting can make all the difference.

STAGING TAPERS AND PILLARS

We’ve all felt that irresistible pull of votives in a cloudy blaze around the feet of a figure in a hushed place of worship. This demonstrates a good point for staging candles. Those tear drop flames are best in company — a lone candle, unless serving duty as a room scenter, is a sad little lighthouse.

Group and stagger at different heights on a sideboard, mantle or table. At Christmas simply foot the arrangement with some greenery to balance the vertical of the candles and disguise the splash pan for the melting wax.

Fat pillars can sit by loftier tapers, just keep to one or two colours and cuddle them to within 6cm of each other for safety. Spiked candlesticks and dishes offer the ultimate in dedicated support for a skinny candle.

That visual rhythm we’ve been exploring is perfect for identical classic tapers on a long dining table, spaced equally down its length. A companionable votive in a jewel glass holder set by an individual table setting, says, you’re here at last — we missed you.

One candelabra — the bistro. Two or three — the Borgias. If you’re placing dishes for self-serving during the meal, consider where the candle supports are least likely to get a tipsy knock or block the eye-line.

New candelabra designs now offer staging for tea lights overhead in angular industrial pendant housings, if you prefer modernity. Combined with table candles, this can add a fascinating layering of candlelight.

Ensure there’s no swing to any ceiling mounted support as it could rain fire on your guests — not the makings of a great evening.

IRISH POURED CANDLES

The branded poured candle in a small tumbler and boxed with the maker’s name emblazoned in gilt on the vessel, is now big business.

Max Benjamin’s fragrances were the first of the European candle houses to openly introduce a division of man-candles or what the market have dubbed ‘mandles’.

No, it’s not just the novelty ‘bacon’ scented candle in a recycled Carlsberg tin, but they do tend to be as big as 1kg, and reflect men’s expected devotion to tea, booze, and grubbing up the forest floor.

Rather than hitting the girlie notes of delicious citrus flavours and heady florals, mandles reach into the spice rack with muscular chords including cardamom, black pepper, patchouli amber tonka, and musks.

Happily, these handsome scents carry their aromatherapy prosperity to every nose, and are ideal for the deeper, darker reaches of the winter months. Even if the box looks brutish and suave, have a whiff. Priced from €18.50.

Interior designers Joseph Ensko and Helen Roden, worked for over a year with top perfumiers before lighting up their brand of 18th century styled beauties in a soy blend wax.

The Irish Country House Collection, comes in frosted glass delicately draped in motifs from fine plasterwork found in the great Georgian houses and are titled by room.

The aromas rising from the pure cotton wicks are intended to evoke the atmosphere of the great house from the peaty comfort of the Entrance Hall candle to the buffed leather bindings in the Library scent range. An ideal gift for any Downton Abbey fan. Priced from €19.95 for a 70g candle with a burning time of 15 hours. Check out the range of perfectly packaged presents on www.irishcountryhousecollection.com.

For another clean burning, gorgeous Irish natural, try Emma Jane Maquire’s collection of tinned candles. Her new Spiced Orange includes benzoin, spicy ginger and frankincense, ideal for Christmas. €19.95 in tumblers and tins. Emma Jane Maquire

WAXING LYRICAL

Candles are fuelled by wax, so they do release gases, (largely carbon dioxide and water), into your home and the wider environment as they expire.

There is a difference between cheaper petroleum-based wax and naturally derived sustainable waxes. We’re led by our nose and eyes when shopping for scent, but take a closer look before falling for a Bashed Berry Gasper or Lemon Lung Delight.

Paraffin wax candles with a synthetic fragrance gutter with a black toxic smoke while quietly releasing a range of materials directly into your airspace.

A boutique candle might seem expensive, but the wax used in each one is often a blend of soy bean wax, canola and beeswax married to pure essential oils. Burning for 40 hours or more, they leave no petro-chemical soot in the air and are closer to a fine body fragrance than a cheap paraffin votive consumed in an hour.

If you buy a fragranced, crafted candle and it smokes continually, chances are there is too much scent or an improper fragrance in it. Extinguish, cool and bin.

Even essential oils and other natural ingredients can be unsuited to inclusion in a candle. Buy a reputable brand you can trust.

GUTTERING DELIGHTS

Tricks for a great burn

¦ Poured candles in glasses and tins perform best in four hour burns. Tins and even glass containers will get hot so place them on a non-flammable surface.

¦ Only if needed, trim the wick to no more than 5mm and pull straight before lighting. Most candles are self trimming as they burn. Remove any trimmings, match ends etc, from the wax-pool, as they can catch fire.

¦ We want a calm, steady flame. If the candle gutters or smokes, move to a draught free place and check again, extinguishing if the smoking continues.

¦ Don’t burn a fat candle for very short periods as this will create a deep well in the candle rather than allowing it to burn right across its surface evenly in what’s termed the ‘melt pool’.

¦ For safety’s sake, extinguish a self-supporting pillar or taper when 20mm of wax remain, or 10mm in a container. Keep candles away from materials, including curtains.

¦ Don’t leave a burning candle unattended, not for five minutes and, in the case of young children and animals, not for five seconds. Flameless battery operated candles are available if you cannot trust yourself.


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