Get to know a candle brand: 1803 Candles

The story of 1803 Candles begins 200 years ago, with the diary of Martha Moore Ballard.

The New England woman is famous for keeping a meticulous, 27-year diary that is one of our only glimpses of a domestic perspective during that time period, when few women were taught to read and write. You can still read her diary for free online!

One of the cornerstones of domestic life that featured again and again in Martha’s diary was her candle-making endeavor. It was this practice that inspired 1803 Candles, a Chicago-based family business that produces soy candles with cozy scents and rustic charm.

When founder Debra Beach reached out to me to review a few of 1803 Candle’s homey autumn and winter scents, I was delighted. I had read about how Beach’s entire family is involved, from her father to her husband to her nine-year-old daughter, with the candle-making process. I was also interested to see how soy candles scented with essential oil measure up.

My candles arrived looking like a Christmas present, tied up with a red ribbon. I received one autumn scent, Vintage Harvest, and two winter scents, Snowman Village and Mistletoe Kisses. All three are made of undyed soy wax in shabby chic mason jars. The winter scents both have a wreath of faux pine needles around the lid and a dollop of snow-like glitter on the wax inside.

The presentation may be understated, but the fragrance of 1803 Candles is stronger than I expected, especially from a soy candle. While many candle-makers are switching to soy wax because it’s natural and nontoxic, it sometimes suffers from a weaker scent. That’s not the case here; I was able to smell these candles strongly before I even lit them!

Vintage Harvest smells like Colonial Williamsburg during the holidays, when the historic homes all have juicy stone fruit, clove, and bay leaf wreaths on the doors. Snowman Village smells like buttery pound cake just out of the oven. Mistletoe Kisses, my favorite, blends woody pine with cedarwood and bright berry notes.

Since soy wax has a tendency to smoke, I recommend using a wick dipper with these candles rather than blowing them out. That kept my home from smelling like soot, and instead like turn-of-the-century holiday charm. It’s a lasting aroma that lingers even after you dip the wick.

The scent of these candles is as impactful as their presentation is understated. They’ll make a sensory statement piece in any holiday tableau. Martha, who only had unscented tallow to work with, would have been amazed to smell these candles! While 1803 Candles was inspired by a woman who made candles to simply light her home, these candles do that and more—flickering for hours of burn time while evoking a historic, holiday mood.

Have you ever tried an 1803 Candles candle? Which candle brand do you think I should I review next?

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