Let’s do a little exercise, shall we? I’m going to type a word, and you’re going to close your eyes, count to five, and say the first thing that pops into your head. Ready? Here goes…
Wait, wait, don’t tell me. Was it “women?” Maybe, maybe not. If so, it’s time to set aside that tired mentality and embrace the candle as the calming, elevated, sexy little open flame that it is. If not, good on ya’.
The best candles for men, like the best men themselves, are confident in their own skin. Yes, cedar and wood and leather and amber play a huge role in my list of favorites, as they damn well should. But good candles for men don’t have to be all about masculinity in the traditional sense. Some are soft. Some are lavendery. And that’s okay.
But since life’s all about balance, one of them is an exact replica of a running shoe.
The best candles for men share a few key characteristics, such as a subtly masculine scent, a respectable burn time, and a handsome, eye-catching container. Byredo’s Tree House Candle, my top pick, embodies those attributes.
That said, it’s perfectly understandable that not everyone wants to buy expensive candles. My runner-up, the Cedar & Suede Soy Candle from Public Goods, is also fantastic for the aforementioned reasons but clocks in at a fraction of the price.
The reputation of Stockholm-founded fragrance, accessories, and lifestyle house Byredo speaks for itself. And while its Bibliotèque candle is by far the most popular, the deeper cuts are often the most worthy adversaries.
All that noise aside, who doesn’t love a tree house?
The Byredo Tree House Candle tops my list of the best candles for men for a few reasons. For starters, it’s got a crowd-pleasing, masculine scent with notes of bamboo, cedarwood, and leather. And if you’re a nightly candle-burner like I am, you’ll appreciate its impressive 60-hour burn time. Further sweetening the pot is this candle’s attractively minimalist jar, which adds a touch of class to any room.
Scent: Bamboo, Pimento, Cedarwood, Leather | Size: 2.5oz / 8.5oz | Wicks: 1 | Shape: Round | Burn Time: 60 Hours | Material: Beeswax & Vegetable Wax
Good candles for men are expensive. Correction: Most good candles for men are expensive. Others are Public Goods’ Cedar & Suede Soy Candles. For less than 10 bucks, you’ll get an attractive candle with notes of sandalwood, jasmine, and leather that’s as fragrant as the day is long.
At that price, these are the candles you scatter throughout your house while you relax and read a book, settle into the couch for a movie, or set the tone in the bedroom. Or you could just give it to someone as a last-minute gift and call it a day.
Scent: Sandalwood, Jasmine, Turkish Rose, Amber, Leather | Size: 7oz | Wicks: 1 | Shape: Round | Burn Time: Varies | Material: Soy Wax, Essential Oils
Axel Arigato created this conversation piece with a wick in collaboration with The Candle Bar. It’s… it’s a shoe. But not just any shoe. It’s an exact replica of Arigato’s running shoe, right down to the last detail.
If you actually end up burning this guy, just know that, like Held’s Neighbourhood 01 candle, this one’s less about scent and more about how it looks sitting on your mantle or bookshelf. Spoiler: It’s going to look like a shoe. Short of that, this would also make a great gift for the guy who already has everything.
Scent: Not Specified | Size: Varies | Wicks: 1 | Shape: Shoe | Burn Time: Not Specified | Material: Paraffin & Natural Oils
Then again, sometimes all you need is a super understated candle that’s going to do a lot of heavy lifting when it’s time to take things to the next level with your partner. The brown container doesn’t beg for any attention, and the scent is both present and in the background at the same time.
Saffron, white tea, musk, amber, and sandalwood notes play off each other to create a sultry, masculine scent. But not the kind that’s going to punch your date in the face. It’s the non-face-punching kind. Which is the better kind.
Scent: Saffron, White Tea, Musk | Size: 7oz | Wicks: 1 | Shape: Round | Burn Time: 50 Hours | Material: Rapeseed & Coconut Wax
Boy Smells has made quite a name for itself since its founding in 2015. The brand’s playful and experimental nature shines through in the names of candle scents like Cowboy Kush, Night Rider, Gardener, and Park Life.
But alas, we’re not here to talk whimsy. We’re here to talk woodsy. Enter: Cedar Stack, a masculine amalgamation of cedar, juniper berry, sawdust, and white musk. Now, here’s the part where I would normally say something like, “If John Dutton was a candle, he would be thi…”
Shit. Too late.
Scent: Cedar | Size: 8.5oz | Wicks: 1 | Shape: Round | Burn Time: 50 Hours | Material: White Coconut & Beeswax
Fir cones. Pine needles. Birch sap. Leather. I mean, the impossibly woodsy scents just go on and on from there in Skandinavisk’s Skog candle. If you’re the type who loves to curl up by the fire with a good book, or if the smell of Christmas trees puts you in a blissful state of mind, you’ll love having a few of these candles hanging around the house.
Not to mention, the forest green container is something you should feel good about displaying. Oh, and if anyone asks, “skog” is Swedish and Norwegian for “forest.” Sounds about right.
Scent: Pine Needles, Fir Cones, Birch Sap, Leather, Woodland Lily Of The Valley | Size: 2.3oz / 7oz | Wicks: 1 | Shape: Round | Burn Time: 50 Hours | Material: Swedish Rapeseed Wax
Most of the candles on this list are scented, sure. But some just outshine the others in the olfactory stimulation department. Nest is a popular company with some outstanding fragrances, and today we’ll be focusing on the Coconut & Palm Classic Candle.
What makes this scent a standout are its nuances. Bright fragrances like coconut and bergamot mingle with headier scents like vanilla and musk, creating a unique and memorable experience for the senses. Got a little carried away there, but it was that or “exciting nasal experience.”
Scent: Lemon, Bergamot, Fresh Mint, Driftwood | Size: 21.2-ounce | Wicks: 3 | Shape: Round | Burn Time: 75-100 Hours | Material: Proprietary Wax Blend
London-based fragrance house Molton Brown has been making the world a better-smelling place since 1971. Prominently featured in this candle is oudh (or oud), which is popular among perfumers for its woody yet sweet notes.
In addition to oudh, you’re working with cinnamon, nutmeg, vetiver, and honey in a classy, moody container. If you’re not a cologne guy but still appreciate the smell—and are planning on having company over—this is a strong option.
Scent: Cinnamon Leaf, Nutmeg, Bergamot, Oudh, Vetiver | Size: 6.7oz / 21oz | Wicks: 1 | Shape: Round | Burn Time: Varies | Material: Not Specified, 100% Vegetarian
Piero Fornasetti was an Italian artist with a particular affinity for actress and opera singer Lina Cavalieri. She would be his muse for many works, including one of his most famous series’ featuring variations of Cavalieri’s visage across 350 different plates.
What does that have to do with the best candles for men? Turns out, lots. Here we have the Fornasetti Star Lina Otto Candle housed in a beautiful container with two be-starred versions of Lina’s face. The individual scents that make up the candle pay homage to Fornasetti’s works and passions. Thyme and lavender (which his son is fond of), orris and cedarwood (materials he often used for furniture pieces), and incense (calling to mind the artist’s poetry).
Needless to say, this is quite the conversation piece. That also happens to smell fantastic.
Scent: Thyme, Lavender, Orris, Cedarwood | Size: 10.5oz | Wicks: 1 | Shape: Round | Burn Time: 60 Hours | Material: Not Specified
Look at that picture up there. Cool, right? Held is on a mission to redefine the decorative candle, think outside the jar, and presumably undertake a bunch of other initiatives that I may or may not have just made cheesy.
The candle can be burned in two variations—that is right, left or a suprise choice of lighting both sides. This is one of the best candles for men that’s less about scent and more about aesthetics. Put it somewhere prominent, take a match to it, have some company over, and let it work its curvy, come-hither magic from there.
Scent: Unscented | Size: 4.625 in X 2 in x 4.125 in | Wicks: 2 | Shape: Curved | Burn Time: Up to 28 Hours | Material: White Soy
If Malin+Goetz were in charge of the mojito recipe, it would probably go something like this:
1. Muddle mint in a clear, minimalist jar with a bunch of small words on it.
2. Add rum, simple syrup, lime juice, and ice. Shake vigorously.
3. Add single cotton wick.
4. Light and enjoy.
For now, maybe just whip up the liquid version of that before scooping up a Malin+Goetz Mojito Candle or two as an accompaniment to those breezy summer sunsets. And if you or someone you know has a summer birthday, this will make for a fun and timely gift.
Scent: Lime, Mint, Bergamot | Size: 9oz | Wicks: 1 | Shape: Round | Burn Time: 20 Hours | Material: Vegetable Wax Blend
Most of the best candles for men will create some type of fragrance that’s going to be transformative. Or at the very least, hang out pleasantly in the background. This one? This one’s going to pulverize any unpleasant odors that dare hang out anywhere near it.
Diptyque has a seemingly endless array of excellent candles, but you already knew that. This specific candle targets the molecules that make up unpleasant odors and replaces them with scents like tomato leaf, mint, and basil. If you have pets or like to cook, consider this your best non-sentient friend.
Scent: Basil, Mint, Tomato Leaf | Size: 6.5oz | Wicks: 1 | Shape: Round | Burn Time: 60 Hours | Material: Paraffin Wax
Look, we all know about those corny fart-scented candles and the ones with “hilarious” sayings written all over the label. Yes, they’re out there. No, I’m not going to present you with the olfactory equivalent of a dick joke.
Instead, I’ll just go ahead and point out the existence of Homesick’s candles. Their list of candle themes is staggering—famous baseball stadiums, Harry Potter, “Home Office,” you name it. Depending on your target audience, they’d make for some pretty great anytime gifts and could also be a hit in someone’s stocking for the holidays. My favorite: the Gone Hiking candle with notes of pine, jasmine, and sandalwood. Simple. Masculine. Versatile.
Scent: Pine, Cassis, Jasmine, Sandalwood | Size: 13.75oz | Wicks: 1 | Shape: Round | Burn Time: 60-80 Hours | Material: Soy Wax Blend
Based in the charming coastal city of your local amazon warehouse you’ll find a set of ultra-affordable candles. When it’s time to kick your feet up, take a few breaths, and generally zen out for a bit, you’ll want a French Lavender Candle in your corner.
The signature soy wax blend make for a longer-burning candle, so feel free to add this to your nightly rotation, especially because it comes with two. And outside of lavender, its mountain heather and rose notes are reminiscent of what you might smell in a spa or wellness center. Or your living room.
Scent: Lavender, mountain heather, rose | Size: 7oz x 2 | Wicks: 1 | Shape: Round | Burn Time: 120 hours | Material: Soy wax
Hand-poured in Portland, this Single Barrel Candle would make for a striking addition to your bar cart, bookshelf, or anywhere else that could use a bourbon kick. Each candle is poured into an inconspicuous black, adding to the allure and inconspicuous nature.
But it’s not all form and whimsy. This is a fragrant candle that offers prominent base notes of musk and wood, complimented by amber and herbs throughout the burn. If you’re into entertaining, keep a few of these stashed away for your Derby party.
Scent: Wood, Musk, Bourbon, Vanilla | Size: 9oz | Wicks: 1 | Shape: round | Burn Time: Not Specified | Material: Soy Wax
What To Look For In The Best Candles For Men
We’re talking about candles here, so how they smell is going to be key. Traditionally, “masculine” scents lean toward the woodsy, earthy side, and there’s no shortage of options that fit that description. But be wary of candle scents so overpowering that they become headache-inducing. It may take some trial and error to dial in the right candle for you, but it’s out there somewhere.
Chances are, whichever candle or candles you choose are going to be displayed prominently within your space. Scent is important, but so is the way your candle looks. Some packages are loud and eye-catching, others are subtle and minimalist. Pair your candles with your space to achieve the best aesthetic effect.
Larger, longer-burning candles tend to last around 50 to 60 hours. Smaller candles might be closer to the 20- to 30-hour range. If you like to burn candles every night, take burn time into consideration. You’ll also want to factor price into the equation—replacing expensive candles every month may not be ideal, depending on your budget.
The best candles for men feature masculine, woodsy top notes, add aesthetic value to your space, and have a long burn time. If you’re looking for the total package, the Byredo Tree House Candle should be your first stop.
There’s no rule book stating that men can’t and shouldn’t own candles. So, of course, I say go for it. Not only can candles help set a romantic mood in your space, they can be calming after a long day.
Candles can make great gifts for men. There’s something out there for everyone, from beachy and floral scents to masculine, woodsy candles. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the laundry list of gag candles out there for your wacky uncle.