Our BIG Vanilla Review
A comparison review of vanilla scented candles from several different candle companies.
by Carolyn & Christina
Intro to “Our BIG Vanilla Review”…
Ahh..vanilla. The warm, comforting aroma that instantly takes us back to those early childhood memories of baking cookies with mom and enjoying drippy cones of ice cream with friends. No other fragrance stirs up such vivid and heart-felt memories quite like vanilla…no wonder why most of us love it.
Since Vanilla is THE best selling fragrance on the market, I’ve been wanting to do something big to pay tribute to it for a while. I figured a BIG old vanilla comparison review with the help of my awesome candle amigo Christina would be fun. Well, I don’t know if fun is the right word… “challenge” is more like it. I really like the smell of vanilla but it’s not a favorite of Christina’s, so before I go on let me just say :thank you, thank you” to my wonderful friend Christina, who sacrifices her time and nose so often for the good of CandleFind. 🙂
There are so many variations of vanilla, it’s mind boggling. It makes sense though since every single candle company out there makes some sort of vanilla fragrance. To prepare for this review, Christina and I started gathering some info on the different types of straight vanilla scents out there. We found that plain vanillas can be very sweet, they can have floral tones, musky tones, carmel-like tones, some can smell perfumey and the list goes on and on. For this review, we were after that rich creamy, authentic smell of vanilla that warms your heart from the inside out and takes you right back to those special childhood memories.
Christina and I each put together a list of vanilla candles we wanted to try from some of the smaller companies we’ve discovered over the past few years as well as some bigger brands. We started off wanting to review about 5 vanilla scents each, but then kept adding more as time went on. This is our BIGGEST review to date…we’ve reviewed 18 vanilla scents! The brands we’ve included are: AromaSoy by Grazia, Yankee, Pure Integrity, WoodWick (Old Virginia), Beanpod, Village Candle, Colonial at Home, SparklePuss, Candlelicious, Country Passion, Blue Moon, Spotted Hog, Kountry Lights and Gold Canyon. Wow, that’s a lot!
After we burned a few of our vanilla candles and started writing about them, we both admitted to each other that trying to describe them seemed more difficult than all of the other reviews we’ve done in the past. Why? Well, I think it’s because every single candle company out there makes a vanilla but they don’t all smell exactly the same. Some differ oh-so slightly and trying to decipher those slight differences in each fragrance and put them down on paper has been quite the challenge. We’re determined gals though and wanted to see this thing through to the end. If you’re a vanilla fan and are looking for a new favorite vanilla candle, look no further than this review. As usual, you can count on us to help steer you in the right direction.
My vanilla reviews are listed first and Christina’s are after that.
Enjoy Vanilla Lovers!! 🙂
Vanilla Mystique from AromaSoy by Grazia
One day while browsing Grazia’s scent list I found myself tempted by her fragrance Vanilla Mystique. Read the description to see why…
“Alluring…Intriguing….Vanilla surrounds you. Inhale deeper…you can’t escape……and you don’t want to. Something else…can’t place it…ummmm. Vanilla Voodoo has got you! This vanilla is unequaled amongst it’s contemporaries. You’ve got to try it to believe it!”
I tried this scent in one of Grazia’s stylish double-wicked jars from her Signature Collection. Once I had my jar lit for a while, the magic quality of this scent started to fill my downstairs level. This is an incredible vanilla…it’s one of the best I’ve ever burned. It’s very strong and true.
Vanilla Mystique definitely falls into that “bakery” category of vanillas that I love so much. It smells just like my mothers to-die-for vanilla cookies she made every year around Christmas. There’s an awesome warmth to it that you just have to experience for yourself if you’re into those cozy, bakery scents. It’s not too sweet, it’s warm, it’s delicious and most importantly, it takes me right back to a comforting memory I’ll always cherish.
I was really curious about the part in the description that says “something else… can’t place it.” My nose couldn’t figure out what it was so I asked Grazia if she knew. She didn’t know but emailed the supplier of the fragrance oil for me to see if they would divulge their secret ingredient. I figured they wouldn’t tell her and I was right. They didn’t want to give their secret away…I don’t blame them. If I created a fragrance this good I wouldn’t want to give my secret away either since there’s so much competition out there. Thanks for giving it a shot Grazia! I guess your awesome vanilla will just have to remain a mystery.
French Vanilla Supreme from AromaSoy by Grazia
Grazia has more than one plain vanilla in her repertoire so I couldn’t get away with trying just one. I tried this scent in a tart versus a jar. I was excited to see what her tarts were like because they looked so cute on her site wrapped in foil tins. Her tarts reminded me of the way peanut butter cups look where the edges of the chocolate have ridges from the foil cup.
I wasn’t really sure what “French Vanilla” is exactly, so before I melted my tart I looked it up online and learned that it’s actually not a type of vanilla, but a term used to describe an egg-custard base for ice cream. Since the name sounds exotic and romantic though, it’s often used to describe perfumes, candles and other fun stuff like that. Hmm…interesting.
Armed with my new info on French Vanilla, I melted my tart one night while working. Before I knew it, this yummy, authentic scent began to fill the air. This vanilla definitely has that rich “custard” vanilla-type smell to it minus the bakery quality that my Vanilla Mystique candle had. This scent made me think of French Vanilla pudding from Jello…it smells just like that. I personally prefer the Vanilla Mystique from Grazia simply because I like the bakery feel in my vanilla candles, but this one definitely still gets a thumbs up from me. It’s a very rich, authentic vanilla that I’m sure a lot of you would love.
Tahitian Vanilla from AromaSoy by Grazia
Ok, one more thing and I’ll stop talking about AromaSoy by Grazia.:-) While discussing vanilla scents, Grazia told me her Tahitian Vanilla was one of her very best vanillas. I wanted to try it, but told her it wouldn’t be “eligible: for this review since it wasn’t a plain vanilla…there’s a touch of coconut and rum in it. So why did I include it? Well, I tried a Tahitian Vanilla tart and fell in love. This is such a unique vanilla scent. I’ve never smelled anything like it and feel it’s my “candle duty” to spread the word.
Let”s have a look at the description of this scent:
“Truly a wonderful, decadent, rich scent of island vanilla beans mingled with exotic spiced rum and sweet tropical coconut to create a scent-sory delight. All vanilla lovers will delight in this tropical version and all non-vanilla lovers will embrace it as well. I’ve searched and searched for good vanillas and I feel that I’ve found the most aromatic and unique ones out there with this one, as well as Vanilla Mystique and French Vanilla Supreme.”
I thought there was just one flavor of vanilla…you know, the one that we’re all used to. Wrong! After doing a little digging online, I learned that vanilla is grown in several places around the world and depending on the location, it can have it’s own unique flavor and aroma. Tahitian Vanilla is supposedly sweeter and fruitier than other vanillas. On just about every site out there that mentions Tahitian Vanilla, it’s described as having a fruity, floral aroma with hints of cherry, licorice, plum, raisin, prunes and aniseed.
After burning so many bakery vanillas, it was so nice to smell such a different vanilla. This scent is so unique. When this tart is in my burner it draws me right in…I find myself breathing it in over and over. Tahitian Vanilla has a great tropical feel to it that I really love. I don’t smell anything floral, but I do smell an underlying fruitiness, which is probably the reason I like it so much. I definitely detect a cherry-vibe in this scent as well as a fig-vibe. I notice the coconut, but it’s not very strong, it just works so well to support this unique smell of vanilla. My nose barely noticed the rum.
The throw on this tart amazed me. You know how some tarts don’t really have an impressive smell to them when they’re cold? Well as soon as I took this tart out of the little baggy it came in, the scent almost filled my entire living room. I placed it in my tart burner and a minute later before it had the chance to melt, my hubby could smell it. That’s always a good sign because he’s usually :hard of smelling.” 🙂 He said it smelled like butterscotch. At first I laughed but then realized that kind of made sense. I was smelling an overall butterscotch smell as well… I can’t figure that one out.
If you love vanilla scents but are looking to experience something a bit different, I highly recommend you give Grazia’s Tahitian Vanilla a try…I think you’ll see why I fell in love. I know I’ll definitely be going back for seconds.
Ok, onward and upward to more straight vanillas…
French Vanilla from Yankee Candle
I’m not happy with this one at all. Sorry Yankee. (again) Even though I haven’t had luck with Yankee in the past, I decided to wipe the slate clean and give them another chance with their French Vanilla tart. I melted it and after a while did notice a nice, but light vanilla scent starting to fill my living room, but then the strangest thing happened. It seemed to go away super-quick…I’m talking within about 10 minutes of when the smell was first dispersed into the room. So far with my experience with tarts, the scent lasts for a couple hours at least but not with this one. It came and went so fast.
Besides the disappearing act, the scent of my tart was inconsistent. When it did fill the room for those quick 10 or 15 minutes, it didn’t fill the room equally. There were pockets of the light scent throughout the room. I was walking around my living room sniffing…some places I smelled it and some areas I didn’t…strange. Normally with all the good tarts I melt, their strong scent fills my whole living room.
One of my least favorite things about this scent was that I noticed a perfumey/floral note to it. I definitely wasn’t expecting that with a scent that’s just supposed to be a plain yummy French Vanilla.
After realizing I was disappointed in my tart, I started reading the Yankee reviews on our Review Board. It seems like some of you think Yankee is a hit or miss type of candle company. This one is definitely a miss. The French Vanilla tart I tried from AromaSoy by Grazia is SO much better than this one! It’s like a night and day difference. Since this was my first tart from Yankee, I won’t give up on them yet. I’ll try some more of their tarts in the future to see if I can find some that I like. I won’t be going back for more of this scent though.
Vanilla from Pure Integrity
As most of you know, Pure Integrity is a company that has impressed the heck out of Christina and me. Their candles have always been “top-drawer” to us… the authenticity of their scents is dead-on and the throw of most of their candles is super strong. For a couple years now Pure Integrity’s plain old Vanilla scent has been a favorite of mine so I had to include it in this review and give this vanilla it’s due praise.
Here’s the scent description from the Pure Integrity web site:
“We have been told our vanilla candle is absolutely outstanding! Who can resist the warm, sweet smell of vanilla? A wonderfully enjoyable and relaxing scent. A favorite I return often to!”
This Vanilla has always been a favorite of Jeff, the owner of Pure Integrity, and it’s no wonder why. This vanilla is so authentic, so strong, so rich and has such a warm, creamy depth to it that comforts me to the core. It also has just the right amount of sweetness… not overly sweet like some vanillas can be. Just about everyone that’s tried this scent based off of my recommendation has loved it. If you’re a vanilla lover and haven’t tried this one yet, all I have to say is…your nose has waited long enough.
P.S. A few months ago a CandleFind fan told me this scent seemed to be more of a caramel-like vanilla. Even though I’ve filled my house with this scent a few times, I didn’t notice the caramel undertone until this fan pointed it out to me. Any bit of info like this that helps me better describe a plain vanilla scent to you is a good thing. 🙂
Vanilla Bean from WoodWick
I’ve been curious about Old Virginia’s WoodWick candles ever since Christina reviewed one in the summer.
As soon as my WoodWick was delivered, I ripped open the box and lit that baby right up. I couldn’t wait to see the wooden wick and hear it as well. It’s the coolest thing ladies and gents. If you haven’t tried one yet, I highly recommend it. It sounds just like a crackling fire, on a smaller scale of course. It’s pretty soothing. If I don’t have the TV or radio on when I burn this candle, it creates such a cozy atmosphere. We don’t have a fireplace, so I guess for now this is the closest I’ll get to the real thing.
The description of this Vanilla Bean scent on Old Virginia’s site is plain and simple…
“Relax with the warm natural scent of pure vanilla bean.”
I really love this scent. The description just about says it all. Smelling pure Vanilla Bean was a nice break from all of the heavy bakery vanillas I’ve been burning lately. This scent has a delicious creamy quality to it that I just love. Every time I breathe it in, it reminds me of Bryers Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Mmmm…one of my favorites. This candle smells exactly like that. In fact, whenever I burn this candle lately, I’m finding my craving for Vanilla Bean ice cream getting bigger and bigger. I hope I get to the end of this candle soon, or my waist line’s gonna pay the price! 🙂
My WoodWick candle is the larger 22 oz. size. The scent throw on this one was not overly strong. It’s one of those scents that has a subtle feel to it yet is capable of just about filling your whole room. Sometimes I really enjoy these subtler scents. They’re definitely yummy enough to enjoy, but not too strong where you need to blow it out to give your nose a rest.
Vanilla from Beanpod Candles
Just recently I decided to give this company a go to see what they’re made of. Among other scents, I bought a pack of their Vanilla scented soy beads for this review. For those of you who don’t know, soy beads are Beanpod’s version of tarts… they’re little scented spheres of wax that you sprinkle right in your tart burner. What makes them so cool is you can mix different scents together to make your own unique scent blends. Here’s an example… Pour some Apple Pie scented beads in your burner with some Whipped Cream beads…yum! I don’t think it can get much better for us candle lovers. 🙂 Fun, fun!
Ok, onto my Vanilla soy beads. Here’s the scent description from Beanpod’s site:
“By the 19th century, vanilla had established itself as the most popular flavor in the ice cream industry. Our Vanilla candle is creamy, rich and delicious.”
I’m not blown away by this scent like I am with some of the other vanillas I’ve tried for this review. It just doesn’t have that special “wow factor” I’m after. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice vanilla. It doesn’t smell artificial, perfumy or anything, but it just doesn’t impress me when it’s in my burner. There’s something missing. I think it’s that warmth that most of my favorite vanillas have as well as a little sweetness and some creaminess. Also, I’m definitely smelling some coconut in this scent and I’m not too thrilled about it. To me, coconut doesn’t belong in a straight vanilla fragrance.
The scent throw is also influencing my opinion big time. Every time I melt these beads, I just can’t get a strong throw. I can really only smell the overall fragrance when I walk right by my burner and sometimes not even then. I’m curious if it’s just me or if some of you have had this same experience with this scent. The strangest thing is, in the middle of the night this past week I couldn’t sleep so I came downstairs to work. I had been melting my beads in my living room for a few hours before I went to bed that night. When I walked downstairs, I felt like I walked into a cloud of vanilla. I could finally smell it! Strange.
Like I said, from what I can smell this passes as an “ok” vanilla but if you’re after the utopia of vanilla scents, I would skip this one. I do have other scented soy beads that I’ll be reviewing soon from Beanpod like Pomegranate and Cranberry Clove. So far they’ve had better throws than this Vanilla so I’m definitely not giving up on these cute little beads.
Warm Vanilla Infusion from Village Candle
Even though I had plenty of vanilla scents in my arsenal for this review, believe it or not, I went candle shopping with my mom last weekend to see if I could find more!! (I know, I’m nuts) I wanted to get a few more vanillas from some of the bigger brands since they’re so readily available to all of us. During my search, I found some Simmerblends from Village Candle so I picked one up in Warm Vanilla Infusion. The description for this scent is:
“A soothing infusion of cream and vanilla is warmed to perfection in this comforting confection.”
According to Village Candle’s web site, they have two other plain vanilla scents… French Vanilla and Creamy Vanilla. I kind of wished they were available in the gift shop we were in because I could’ve compared all three, but a girl can only take so much vanilla smelling, so I’m glad I only have one at this point.
I like the way Village Candle packages their tarts (or Simmerblends). They come in 4 breakaway cubes for $1.50 each which I think is a pretty fair. I broke off two of the cubes and put them in my burner to melt. At first I started to smell an interesting version of vanilla that I thought was pretty good, but then as the scent started to fill my living room, I noticed an underlying perfume smell. That’s one of my “candle pet-peeves” so I turned my burner off and opened the windows to air out the house. I’ve only tried one or two things from Village, so I won’t give up just yet but I’m probably gonna toss my other two cubes in this scent.
Simply Vanilla from Colonial at Home
I was thrilled this summer when Colonial Candles sent me several votives to try. I told them about our plan for our big vanilla review so they threw in a pack of 8 tealights in their recently improved Vanilla scent. While I was shopping last weekend with my mom for more vanillas, I completely forgot about the tealights at home and picked up a votive in the same scent. I guess I had a “senior moment” at the age of 29… oh no!
I’m not really a tealight-gal so I decided to light the votive instead. I went straight to my powder room with it since that’s where all burning votives usually wind up in my house due to their smaller scent throws. At this point, I’m so sick of smelling vanilla I’m about to go bonkers, but I’m in the home-stretch and am starting to see the light at the end of the vanilla tunnel!
Here’s the description of Simply Vanilla from Colonial:
“A classic scent, pure and memorable, calling to mind warm memories of home, comfort and family. We have tweaked our classic and made it even better, smooth and rich and aromatic.”
I’m pretty impressed with Colonial’s new version of vanilla. There’s nothing artificial or perfumey to this scent, which is always a good thing. The two most dominate notes in this fragrance are vanilla beans and sugar. It’s a little too sweet for my taste but if you like your vanilla scents with a punch of sweetness, you might really enjoy this one. There’s a small note of cream in Simply Vanilla, but definitely not as much compared to some of the other vanillas I’ve tested lately. Although this is a nice authentic fragrance, after trying this candle it’s clear to me that I prefer vanillas that are heavier on the cream and lighter on the sweet.