by Julia Wooten
Brand: Candles by Donald
Type: Paraffin and Palm Pillars
Scent Strength: Varied
Introduction to my Candles by Donald review:
You may not have heard of Candles by Donald yet, but if you enjoy beautifully hand crafted candles, then it’s a name you should get to know. Each candle that Donald makes is a work of art. Each one is precisely created with exacting standards. I was dazzled by the beauty of the candles I received for this review.
Candles by Donald has a storefront at Artfire.com, an artisan marketplace that is similar to Etsy. I had never shopped at Artfire before so I was like a fish out of water when I first checked out Candles by Donald’s store. The page looked a little busy and I was confused at first about how the whole site worked. Luckily, I’ve never been shy about clicking through website pages so I just started having a look around.
I found several things that warmed me to the whole idea of ordering from this new-to-me candle maker in a marketplace I’d never shopped at before. Of course the pillars themselves is what initially caught my eye. I mean, come on… candles are the first thing I notice in any store… even in a hardware store, if there happened to be a candle display, I would zero in on it immediately. So, yes, the colorful pillars got my attention and I quickly found several scents that I knew I would enjoy, but I was still a little unsure about ordering.
Then I moseyed over to Donald’s artisan bio page and found a wealth of information about this artist. The bio page was so interesting, I decided to check out his blog and from there I even found a few entertaining Youtube videos showcasing Candles by Donald’s candles and even one showing the candle making process for one of his most accomplished art pieces… the sandpot candle. I also lucked upon a few other customers words of praise for these candles which bolstered me further.
By the time I came back to the actual Artfire page where Candles by Donald’s products were listed, I was charmed. I felt comfortable enough to pick out a few scented pillars to try out.
You all know I’m a big fan of pillars, so my choosing them is no surprise, but I really broke character and chose two palm wax pillars. Having never burned a palm wax pillar, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but I ordered and waited for what I feared would be my folly.
I didn’t wait long to find that my order was not folly at all, but was in fact one of the best candle chances I’ve ever taken. Sometimes one must veer off that beaten path of comfortable well known vendors and go down the artisan’s handmade road less traveled.
What do my pillars from Candles by Donald look like?
From the moment I opened my package, I knew I had stumbled onto something special… a personal touch. My candles were all carefully packaged, shrink wrapped tightly in cello with labels that looks at once handmade and professional. There were two votives included in my order for sampling other scents and there were two printed instruction sheets included for my products… one for the votives and another for the palm wax pillars. Candles by Donald made certain that his customer knew exactly how to burn these candles in order to get the most enjoyment from them, and I, as a palm pillar novice, appreciated the instruction.
The candles themselves were beautiful. My whole family wanted to touch them and check out the patterns in the wax. We all marveled at how the candles were created, whether the wax naturally made these patterns or if there was a technique used in pouring. I’m sure I could email and ask, but I sort of like the mystery of it all.
All of the pillars I tried were 3x 4 1/2 “. The Magnolia Blossom pillar was paraffin wax. It had smooth sides with striking shades of pink and red vertical stripes… very interesting and pretty.
The Dragon’s Blood was made from palm wax and was a deep rose color with an intricate feathered crystalline pattern all through it. Mulberry, another palm wax variety, had a lighter reddish plum color pallet and also had the silvery looking feathered design.
How did my pillars from Candles by Donald smell?
Candles by Donald describes this scent in part as:
“The luxuriously romantic scent of sweet magnolia, white sandalwood, and soft amber.”
This pillar was beautifully scented. I have found myself drawn more and more to the smell of Magnolia. Several of the scents that I have been over the moon for lately, I’ve found to have notes of magnolia in them. So when I saw that Candles by Donald offered a pillar fragranced with Magnolia Blossom, I simply had to try it. The scent was my main reason for choosing this fragrance so I didn’t realize, until it arrived, exactly how pretty the pillar would be. The red striped pattern on the sides is very unique. I liked this pillar right from the start and it was the first of the three that I lit up.
The scent throw was surprisingly good, better than what I’d come to expect from a pillar. Of course it was still lighter than a jar candle or a melt might be, but I couldn’t have asked for a more strongly scented pillar. When the pillar was by my side, I smelled the fragrance quite intensely. I placed it on my desk which is in a large open area and it scented fairly well, fading out the further away I got from it. When I placed it on my bathroom counter, it easily scented that entire room.
The magnolia blossom is the star of this show with its rich, luxurious bouquet. This scent captures more than just the blossom, though. I could pick up the amber pretty clearly…which I am a huge fan of… and I could occasionally smell the faintest wisp of sandalwood too. This scent has been well thought out and used to its full potential with this pillar.
Dragons Blood is one of Candles by Donald’s top selling fragrances. It is described this way:
“Dragons Blood candle fragrance oil has an aroma like an oriental blend of orange, rose, and carnation nestled on a warm dry down of patchouli. The very aromatic candle has good scent throw both hot and cold,
adding an exotic mystical presence to a room.”
This is an incense type of fragrance… very heavy and thick in the air. Dragons blood is a commonly used name for a deep red resin derived from the subtropical Draco or “Dragon” tree. It can’t get more exotic than that. Throughout history, Dragon’s Blood resin has been used in incense during symbolic rituals. It is said to be a purifying scent that evokes a feeling of strength and courage.
The headiness of the fragrance gave it a boost in potency, and this candle did quite well in my open dining area. It smelled very mysterious and herbal, and did seem to have a calming effect on everyone near it. I don’t put a whole lot of stock in aromatherapy in general, but it was certainly interesting how relaxed I felt whenever I was enjoying this particular scent. It had a musky sweetness mixed with a exotic, slightly spicy note. This was another fantastic scent and so well represented in this palm wax pillar from Candles by Donald.
Candles by Donald describes Mulberry this way:
“This fragrance is best described as strong, sweet, and fruity. The fragrant fruit aroma is uplifting without being heavy, and very refreshing.”
When I first unwrapped my Mulberry candle, I got a burst of rich, sweet berries from the pillar itself. The palm wax had a beautiful feathered design to it, and I could smell it even before I lit it, so I was already pleased with my experience.
The scent from the burning pillar was lighter than that initial explosion of fragrance I got from the freshly unwrapped candle, but it was a sweet fruity berry that I really enjoyed. Even though the name Mulberry reminds me of the holiday season, this scent is ideal year round. It is simply a refreshingly succulent sweet berry scent that would work well in any season.
Generally, when I burn jar candles I go about my business in my home with the candle lit in the background. Because this palm wax pillar was all new to me, I found myself spending more time checking it out, so I was standing close to it a lot… candle loitering. I could smell the fresh, luscious Mulberry when I was near the candle, up to about five or six feet away actually, which I was pleased with. The candle wasn’t able to fill my entire living room all by itself, but I thought that as a pillar, it did quite well.
How did my pillars from Candles by Donald burn?
My Magnolia Blossom paraffin pillar burned well and lasted a long time. The wax held its shape yet was easy to press down into the wax pool. The flame stayed steady with no smoking. The wick was centered and required only the average amount of trimming.
The Dragons Blood and Mulberry pillars were palm wax and burned much differently than paraffin, so I’ve made some special notes about my palm wax pillars.
In order to get the full enjoyment from my palm wax pillars, I needed to treat them differently than I would a paraffin pillar. Luckily, Candles by Donald included detailed burning instructions, because this was my first experience with this type of wax pillar. I have used palm wax in tarts, votives, and even jar candles, but this was my first palm pillar adventure and I wanted to get the most from it.
The hardest thing for me to learn was that my palm wax pillars did not require “hugging”. In fact, they are supposed to keep their hard wax edge all through the burn. As the candles burn down, the flame lights up each pillar from inside giving the candle a beautiful glow. The palm wax is quite hard and would have broken off if I had tried to press the edges in like I normally do with a paraffin candle.
As I burned these palm wax pillars, I found the sides eventually melted away starting from the top on down. Occasionally the top edge would become paper thin and I would knock some of the wax down into the melt pool. I guess I just couldn’t keep my hands out of the wax after all.
Besides not hugging my candles, there were two other suggestions which I followed closely. I made sure that the wick was centered in each pillar, and if the melt pool got too close to the edges I would have needed to simply extinguish the candles until they cooled and then relit them. I was a mother hen with my first palm wax pillars… I kept a very close eye on them, but I needn’t have worried. The wicks on both the Mulberry and the Dragons Blood scented pillars stayed perfectly centered all through the burn. I watched, delightedly, as my candles wax pooled just far enough out to leave a uniform ¼” wax edge. I extinguished my pillars every couple of hours and never had a melt through. I also kept my wicks trimmed and kept the candles away from drafts.
Closing to my Candles by Donald review…
Candles by Donald provided a spectacular product, fast shipping, nice packaging, and outstanding customer service. I can just go right down the list of qualities that I look for in a candle maker and Candles by Donald delivers 100 percent in all of those areas. I had a great experience with these candles and I highly recommend them to everyone.
In fact, I am already plotting another order. After seeing how those sandpot candles are made, I really want to try one, and at 3 pounds total, a big sandpot candle would make a beautiful centerpiece. I’ve already got my spot picked out for one.
The palm wax pillars were a fun deviation from my usual jar candles, and the paraffin pillar was a unique beauty too. I enjoyed all three scents and would reorder any of them. I would encourage all of my scented candle enthusiasts to give Candles by Donald a try.
Happy candle smelling!