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10/01/2005 - Most days, someone comes into my shop and asks the question: "What is the difference between these candles and the ones that they sell in department stores?"

Quality is the first answer. By that I mean, you get what you pay for. The candles that I have selected for my store are quality candles that last longer, burn cleaner and are scented to last the entire life of the candle.

Less expensive candles generally are made with a poorer grade of wax so they burn up quickly. Have you ever had a candle that burns so quickly that the edge doesn't melt and the wick is gone before the wax is gone? That has to do with the quality of wax. Quality candles are made with a higher grade of wax. Some are made of food grade wax, others are soy based. The quality of wax is important because it also has a lot to do with how it absorbs the fragrance and essential oils used to scent the candle.

I know that I sound like a broken record but quality really does make a difference. For example, I have several decorative hand molded candles in my shop. Most people tell that they would never burn them because they are too pretty. I said the same thing when I was selecting candles for the store. That is when I found a company that makes wonderful decorative candles that are meant to be burned. The candles are designed to burn "luminary – style"-as the flame burns down into the candle, they come to life, glowing warmly from within.

I also carry hand-dipped taper candles. These candles are made with a special formulated wax. They are dripless, long-burning, solid color (not coated) and fade resistant.

For maximum life, we urge you to follow these simple instructions: On first use, light for one minute, then extinguish and trim wick to ¼" before relighting. For best results, and to minimize soot, always keep wick trimmed to ¼" throughout life of product. Burn 1 hour per inch in diameter – allow to cool fully before relighting.

While burning, a lot of candle wicks will develop a black "fragrance mushroom". This fragrance mushroom is caused by the superior wax blends and the high volume of custom-blended fragrance and essential oils. When a "fragrance mushroom" forms, gently blow out the flame, let cool, trim the wick to ¼" and relight. As with any candle, without the simple attention of keeping the wick trimmed, the "fragrance mushroom" may create an oversized flame and cause smoke.

Please remember to be careful with your candles. They are for adult use only. Keep any burning candle within sight; keep out of the reach of children and pets – never burn a candle near anything that can catch fire. Please respect the fact that candles create their beauty using fire; burn carefully and enjoy!

Article written by Stacey Kaiser of Blackberry Mountain Gift Shop

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