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The Magical Feature That Gives Candles an Upgrade

A pair of Wax and Wick candles.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Wax and Wick.

I did not know what a wood wick candle was—and I certainly had no idea why someone might want one—before this winter. But when my colleague Susan Matthews recommended WoodWick brand candles in Slate’s tiny luxuries gift guide, I was instantly intrigued. “Their most notable quality, as suggested by their name, is the wick,” Matthews wrote. “It is made of wood, and it crackles. It’s very soothing, like having a fire going (a very, very tiny fire).”

I became curious about what other players there were in this new-to-me world of wood wick candles and stumbled upon Chicago-based Wax and Wick candle company. I was drawn to their monochromatic millennial design, and their website featuring muscled, bearded men—not the usual faces of scented candles. It turns out those brawny men are Wax and Wick’s co-founders, Kevin Gillespie and Garrett Lé Tourneau, who set out to build a “man candle company.” They initially wanted to create candles that were a departure from the overly floral, manufactured scents that dominate the market, though they have since expanded their target demographic, realizing that people of all genders like woodsy, more natural scents.

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Wax and Wick sells just one product: a soy candle in a 12-ounce black or white glass jar, with a wooden wick. The minimalist design mirrors their production ethos: The candles contain no additives, paraffin, or artificial colors, meaning that they burn clean and long. The scent notes include amber, patchouli, oak, clove, and jasmine, with candle names like “Blue Pine,” “Mountain Fig,” and “Teakwood + Mahogany.”

These intriguing, sophisticated scents (along with the idea of enhancing my apartment with Matthews’ description of a “very, very tiny fire”) made it easy for me to decide to buy one. I opted for the Bergamot Summit candle, which Wax and Wick describes as having “subtle, spicy notes of amber, vanilla & sandalwood.” Unlike more traditional fragrance candles, which can be cloying and overpower a room, my Wax and Wick candle leaves pleasant, scattered whiffs of its scent throughout my space. I’ve become addicted to burning mine—often lighting it as soon as I begin the workday. As I sit at my desk, the dancing flame creates a meditative atmosphere while I work. My shelter-in-place lifestyle has shrunken my world to increasingly small and lonely spaces, and this candle makes a disproportionately large impact. In the absence of a pet, it’s become my crackling little companion.