If there’s one thing I can count on every holiday season, it’s additions to our candle collection. Mr. V loves candles, and both of our moms give them to us as gifts pretty regularly. We also love stocking up on three-wick candles from Bath & Body Works every Black Friday. This year, we’re probably going to skip those mass-market candles, as we’ve been slowly purchasing candles all year – including two new Homesick Candles.
I bought our Homesick Candles in September as a little treat. Like so many, we have been pretty much home for most of 2020. I thought Homesick Candles might be a nice way to bring some of the outside world into our little houseboat home.
I also wanted to include them in my gift guide for travelers-who-aren’t-traveling this year and wanted to actually try them myself before recommending them. I’ve seen many friends and fellow creators sharing them on social, and naturally, I’ve been targeted with the ads!
Once our candles arrived, I unboxed them, and we started to enjoy them. As you’ll see though, Homesick Candles don’t hold up on what I consider to be one of the most important factors of a candle that’s all about assuaging feeling “homesick.” Read on for my own Homesick Candles review, as well as Homesick Candles reviews from a number of friends.
My Homesick Candles Review
To start out, I wanted to discuss my own experience with Homesick Candles, before diving into some Homesick Candles Reviews from friends of mine and those in my network.
As I mentioned in the intro, I purchased two Homesick Candles in September 2020. They didn’t have a candle for London (my favorite city!), so I went with Alaska (my home state) and Seattle (my second favorite city, and somewhere I lived for several years).
Here are my thoughts.
Alaska – My Home State
From Homesick: Mountain spruce, cedar and forest moss with hints of crisp winter air, and glacial melt water take you back to America’s Last Frontier.
- Top Notes: Spruce, Spearmint, Cedar
- Mid Notes: Glacier Water, Peppermint
- Base Notes: Moss, Amber, Musk
If you’ve read this blog for two seconds, you’ll quickly learn that I grew up in Alaska. I have fifteen years of memories, experiences, and yes, scents from that time. This means I have a bit of a high standard!
The description and notes for the Alaska Homesick candle sounded perfect: woody and a little bit wintery, like a perfect spring morning. (I can literally imagine that scent right now – I last experienced it on the same morning I took the picture above!)
Unfortunately, the candle smells nothing like that. While some Homesick candles seem too heavy on the Top Notes (see Hawaii below), the Alaska candle is way too heavy on the Base Notes, especially the musk. And guys, you know I generally love (Elon) Musk, but that is not what Alaska smells like!
It’s a pleasant enough smell, more like spending a weekend in a cabin in Hatcher’s Pass when your damp gear is drying out by the fire (musky, woody) than that Great Outdoorsy smell I expect for the Last Frontier.
Bonus: My friend and fellow Alaskan, Kyle, also let me know what she thought of the Alaska candle:
I feel like “smell accuracy” is so subjective 😂 Like, depending on where you live in a state, things that evoke “home” are going to be slightly different. I enjoy the Alaska scent, though I probably would have made it more tree-forward.
She says exactly how I feel, much more succinctly! (She’s definitely the better writer!)
Seattle – One of my Favorite Cities
From Homesick: A strong cup of coffee on a perfectly rainy afternoon. Pine needles, lemon, and cedar meld with a hint of rhubarb and musk.
- Top Notes: Coffee, Pine Needles
- Mid Notes: Rain, Cedarwood, Musk
- Base Notes: Rhubarb, Lemon
As I browsed for a second candle that wasn’t London, I was naturally intrigued by Seattle. It’s another place I love and have called home, and it too has a distinctive scent in my mind. The description and notes totally match that too: coffee, evergreen, and rain.
When I unboxed my Seattle Homesick candle, it seemed spot-on: a delightful scent of coffee and pine – perhaps a bit too strong, but that can happen when it’s been in the box a while.
Over time, the scent has mellowed a lot, to where it’s almost hard to pick up any Top Notes at all. Like my Alaska candle, I’m now getting a lot more of the Base Notes, especially rhubarb. And while I like rhubarb, that’s not what Seattle smells like either.
Homesick Candles Reviews from Fellow Travelers
So now that you’ve heard from me, I wanted to share some thoughts and feedback from others in my network. It’s probably pretty obvious that while I think Homesick Candles are nice, I don’t think the scents are really accurate or capture the place I’m “homesick” for.
Sampling from others will let you see what they think too; their Homesick Candles reviews will give you a more diverse range of feedback than my thoughts alone. As you’ll see, some people liked the scents, others thought they were (more or less) accurate, and there’s a really good commentary on how hard it is to make scented candles that tie people to locations.
(I chose a photo for each destination too, because I thought that might help evoke your own idea of the scent as you read about the candle and each Homesick Candles review.)
India & San Diego – Mimi from The Atlas Heart
From Homesick: Simmering curry and the scent of cardamom. Faint notes of wet soil after a summer monsoon. Agarbathi burning surrounded by vibrant colors.
- Top Notes: Cumin, Nutmeg, Tea Tree
- Mid Notes: Curry, Cinnamon, Cardamom
- Base Notes: Maple, Tonka Bean
From Homesick: Notes of marine and sandalwood swirl through the sea air. Taco trucks and sun-kissed shoulders. A perfect day in the bay.
- Top Notes: Lavender, Rosemary, Marine
- Mid Notes: Sea Air, Jasmine, Amber
- Base Notes: Patchouli, Sandalwood, Sea Moss
Mimi is a fellow Bay Area blogger I’ve been connected with for years – I think our blogs are roughly the same age! Like me, she bought two Homesick candles: one for her hometown of San Diego, and the other for India, a destination I know she has visited and loves.
Here were her thoughts on how accurate Homesick candles are:
I think it depends on what smells you associate with each place – the India one smelled more accurate to me than the San Diego one which smelled kind of like musky men’s cologne (still nice but not what I generally associate with San Diego). But overall they’ve been great in terms of smell and the right amount of potency.
I’m not gonna lie: the food-heavy notes of the India candle sound fantastic, and in some ways are exactly what I’d expect India to smell like in my mind – though I’ve heard the country itself definitely has a, erm, distinctive odor.
But, this is great feedback to keep in mind: some Homesick candles may well be more accurate to our ideal scent versions than others. And some Homesick candles may just be more accurate in general than others.
Hawaii – Dave from GoBackpacking
From Homesick: Juicy pineapple and coconut combine with sandy shore breezes, ocean tides, cyclamen flowers, and just a hint of sugar cane. Aloha Hawaii.
- Top Notes: Pineapple, Coconut
- Mid Notes: Seashore, Cyclamen
- Base Notes: Sugar, Vanilla, Musk
I’ve known and followed Dave for years now, since we worked together on his much-beloved and no-longer-existent Travel Blog Success courses and community. Like Mimi, Dave actually bought the Hawaii Homesick candle not because he’s from there or calls it home, but because he loves that place.
Here was his feedback:
I’ve only burned it a few times, it’s quite strong, so I think it’s better for a little here and there. Mine is [accurate], mainly smells of pineapple. If anything I feel like the pineapple is a little too strong.
Pineapple is the primary top note for the Hawaii candle – and it leads their product description, so it’s not really a surprise that it’s a nose full of Ananas comosus (pineapple!).
Dave’s other feedback about the intensity of the scent is interesting – with my own candles and other reviews I read online, there seems to be a ton of variance in how strong the scent can be even for the same candle. Either Homesick has a consistency issue (possible) or it’s further proof that it’s really hard to make a candle everyone will love and think accurately represents their favorite place (more likely, see Mari’s feedback below).
Chicago – Mari, My Maid of Honor
From Homesick: A freshwater breeze sweeps the air with hints of jasmine bouquets. The Windy City captured by scents of rich chocolate and sandalwood.
- Top Notes: Sandalwood, Bergamot
- Mid Notes: Fresh Water, Chocolate
- Base Notes: Jasmine, Musk
Mari and I go way back, to 2005 when we met during our first year of college. We’ve been friends ever since, and she served as my Maid of Honor at our wedding this summer. I actually bought Mari her Chicago Homesick Candle as a birthday present, around the same time I bought our candles. She lives in Memphis but has been talking about missing home (Chicago) and wanting to move back.
Once it had arrived and she had a chance to burn it a time or two, I texted her:
Me: Do you think the Chicago candle actually smells like Chicago? Does it match what you’d expect?
Her: Ehhh no. But then again how do pick a smell for an entire city?
This is obviously great feedback: one of the hardest things Homesick Candles is facing is the fact that everyone has different scent memories of the places they visit. Heck, our olfactory systems just work differently all the time! It’s hard to capture a scent and make everyone happy.
(My counterpoint, because this is my review and I’m obviously biased is that I can tell you in an instant that London has a smell, as does Alaska, New York City, Paris, even Jordan… Some places are indelible and consistent in our scent memories.)
Florida – Claire (@Daycationgram)
From Homesick: Bergamot, woody mangroves and Spanish moss mix with smooth vanilla and amber. Undertones of Florida’s finest citrus.
- Top Notes: Spanish Moss, Bergamot
- Mid Notes: Mangrove Wood, Orange
- Base Notes: Vanilla, Amber, Musk
Claire and I are following each other on Instagram, and is the person I’m least connected with on this list: other than our Insta-friendship, we have never met in real life and I don’t know her any better off Insta than she knows me. To me, that makes me think she’s probably more likely to give me her honest opinion over an answer she thinks I want.
Claire bought the Florida Homesick candle and here are her thoughts in response to my questions, “Did you like it? Think it smelled accurately?”
I liked it a lot, and it did smell like THINGS that remind me of Florida, but it didn’t smell like Florida itself if that makes sense? I think of the air there as having a very specific nice smell and that wasn’t it.
Claire’s feedback is a sum and parts issue: the parts of the scent are right, but the final product just doesn’t capture the location accurately. This is kinda how I feel, as I mentioned. Theoretically – and in reality – my Homesick candles have the components of the scents I’d expect… but the end result doesn’t match what I expect each place to smell like.
Rhode Island – Kerri, My Friend
From Homesick: An afternoon on the Cliff Walk with hot apple cider and cozy sweaters to keep warm. The rolling tides carry the sweet and spicy scents of fall.
- Top Notes: Nutmeg, Apple, Maple
- Mid Notes: Seashore, Cinnamon, Clove
- Base Notes: Hay, Vanilla, Tonka Bean
My friend Kerri and I go back to 2012, when we met while living in London – a place we both love. One of the first things you learn about Kerri is that she loves her home state, Rhode Island, though she did move with me to Seattle after graduating in London and there met her husband and is starting her family.
Back to the Ocean State though, this is how she answered my questions about the Rhode Island Homesick candle:
I liked how it smelled! To be fair I grew up very close to the landfill so an accurate candle would not be very soothing 😂😂
Fair enough! 😂 Personally, I can 100% imagine exactly the description in my mind: I’ve been to Newport (where the Cliff Walk is located) twice – in fact, it’s where Kerri got married in early 2020! I know the smell of apple cider and tides well. All that sounds great together! (And yeah, a landfill candle doesn’t sound good, even if it is accurate.)
Suppressing Neutral & Negative Homesick Candles Reviews
I’ll be honest: this point is the primary reason I decided to start writing a Homesick Candles review on my blog. While I wasn’t in love with the scents of the two Homesick candles I bought, I felt okay since they still smelled nice and I was able to leave a review that let others know that they – especially Alaska – didn’t smell quite right.
When I received the email from Homesick asking for reviews of my purchases, I dutifully wrote my reviews: 4 stars for Seattle, 3 stars for Alaska.
A few days later, I went back to see what other reviews said and realized: Homesick doesn’t publish any review of 3 stars or less.
I kid you not – they literally just don’t let any review that doesn’t speak highly of them be published. That is wrong.
While I definitely believe companies have a right to screen reviews, it’s unscrupulous to blanket hide all reviews that suggest people don’t love your product based on the star rating. My Alaska Homesick Candle review wasn’t negative – it just (like others I found at the 4- and 5-star level) pointed out that the smell wasn’t accurate for Alaska.
Yeah, I’m salty about that. I think people have a right to know the scents aren’t accurate. I reached out to others who have bought candles and they confirmed they felt the same. And I used my platform so that you – dear reader – have a complete picture of their product.
What about Homesick Candles Reviews on Amazon?
Because Homesick Candles can’t suppress reviews on Amazon, I decided to go through those too, to try and see if they were more fair. Here’s what I found:
- For location-based (City, State, Country) candles, there were only 12 reviews total: 9 were positive (3+ stars) and 3 were negative.
- They offer mini versions of some location scents (Arizona, California, New Jersey, etc.) through Amazon only; these seem to be their most popular products and are generally in the 4-star range on average.
- Their non-location scents (for “Holidays” or “Memories” such as “Road Trip,” “Book Club,” or “Thank You, Mom”) are far more reviewed, also in the 4-star range on average.
In sum, I think it’s fair to say that Homesick Candles reviews on Amazon are generally 4-stars on average, but location-based candles are polarizing. My favorite review that echoes my own thoughts about the accuracy (or lack) of Homesick Candles location-based scents:
Texas does NOT smell like burning plastic! This is one of the WORST smelling candles EVER!! … Please come up with a different Texas scent because you missed it by a mile. An oil field would be better. A steer patty would be better.
Guys. “Steer patty.” I’m dying. 😂
Takeaways? Nice Candles, but Not Accurate
I’m sure you’ve gotten the thesis by now: Homesick Candles are nice, and most people like having them – but they don’t accurately capture the scents we all have in mind for the places we love and call home.
I will point out that most of the people I chatted with (and myself) chose candles for places we have lived. I wonder if my little “study” is limited by the fact that people who call a place home have a different scent-understanding than those who just visit a place. (i.e. Do those who’ve visited Alaska think the candle is accurate while locals don’t? I don’t know!)
That’s not to say they won’t make a nice addition to your candle collection or a nice gift – after all, I’m recommending them in my gift guide for travelers-who-aren’t-traveling this year.
Just pay attention to the notes, and be prepared that the distinctive scent memories you have of “home” are difficult to capture, hard to standardize for everyone, and probably won’t be in the Homesick candle you choose.
Do you have thoughts or feedback on Homesick Candles? Do your smell accurate or inaccurate? Let me know and share your Homesick Candles reviews in the comments!