Monday, November 4, 2019

5 Sihaya and Company Reviews: Hocus Pocus + Sleepy Hollow + Black Roses + Samhain Dusk + Persephone Descending

It feels like Halloween came and left with a whimper this year. This autumn was rainy for me, and it only got cold something like... 2 days before Halloween. I live in mid-Atlantic Appalachia and we didn't hit peak foliage until like, late October this year. I'm sure for most of you that statement will come off as kinda 'Oh, that's a shame' but for people in this part of the world only hitting Peak Foliage around Halloween is a scandal. Pearls are clutched. How are there still any green deciduous trees in November? Why do mountaintops still have trees with leaves on them?
As a result it both made it hard to get into the Halloween spirit and makes it hard to believe it's already over for me. It doesn't help in the least that I am still knee deep in Autumn and Halloween press samples and am pressing hard to catch up. Thus these Sihaya reviews are kind of last minute and some of these candles might be hard to snag before they come down (Hocus Pocus has already sold out!). But my policy is... they send it to me, I review it. I'm hoping I can be caught up with the autumn stuff in time for winter collections because I am ready for some mint hot cocoa and ice covered holly at midnight scents.
The candles covered in today's review are
All candles in this review were allowed to rest for several days (a little over a week for these) after arrival. The dandles were kept in the dark in a drawer if small enough. If too large for a box they generally sit on top of a bookcase or bedside table, or inside of a drawer. I did crack them open to sniff them directly after arrival, and with a couple to do an initial test. The reviews are not based off of these initial impressions - though if a rest did change the smell I’ll note that.
Before doing test periods I often wear or play with other scents in my collection (that I wash off). I also am often wearing scented lotion on my feet and ankles (that I do not wash off). Sometimes I wear scented hair products simultaneously. Theoretically there could be cross-contamination. Occasionally when reviewing candles I will have a perfume on that I applied earlier that day.
With these candles I did an hour long (or even longer) test period. The candles had their wicks trimmed and then were lit using a plain lighter.
Each review is written without looking at the notes in that moment. Frequently I will glance at a product's notes beforehand. At the end of the review I will list what the official notes are and comment on how I think they interacted.
Packaging Review
For The Big Candles: See my prior review [ here ]. I do want to note that the tunneling issue that got raised last time has been addressed and Sihaya plans to experiment with some new wicks to see if that helps some. With the big candle I tried this time there was some tunneling - but it did seem to have a bigger wax pool than the other candles I've tried from Sihaya. It still did not burn to the edges even when burned past the hour test time.
I honestly low key wonder if it has to do with elevation. I know foods take longer to cook at higher elevations since the air pressure is lower. I live somewhere above 900 feet sea level (I'm in a valley and elevations can vary). I don't know how much impact this would have on how long it takes a candle to burn across... or if a candle that burns straight across at sea level will tunnel at this elevation.
Also I want to note in regards to my last review of these tins: Apparently using multiple wicks is a safety no-go for candles of these sizes. This is why I am silly to make practical suggestions for a product that you set on fire, and candle making ought to be left to the candle professionals.
Er, anyway, I look forward to trying Sihaya's new wicks in the future.
With the tea ("little") candles: There's some pros/cons to this sizing I'll briefly go over.
Pros: The candle burned evenly across; Even at such a small size only a small amount of the candle was consumed in an hour + long test period (roughly 1/10th - 1/5th of the candle), the scent cloud from the candle dispersed widely through the room despite its small size.
Cons: While the metal tins the big candles are in don't get hot when I use them the little plastic holders for the tea candles did (handle with care); The entire candle liquefied pretty quickly - if it spilled it would be a substantial amount of hot wax everywhere.
Additionally I had some issues with wick trimming that were probably user error - but it did mean that because the tea candles melted so quickly they'd sometimes have to be relit a couple of times since it was easy to splash the wick.
A reminder: Each nose is different. Your mileage may vary.

Hocus Pocus
Unlit: Spiced pumpkin pie and apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream. Very gourmand, very autumnal. While I’m typically pretty neutral on straight pumpkin spice I do like the baked good note in this, and love the apple coming through. The additional notes really elevate it - and I think as a room scent this will be really nice.
Freshly lit: The smell of warm wax blends with the pumpkin, on the initial hit of smell it’s not as sweet as it was unlit. More of the spices are coming out - cinnamon and nutmeg. I’m also getting a hint of smoke and I’m not sure it’s from the initial charring of the wick or if it’s part of the scent. Interestingly right now I’m getting less of the apple.. But as the wax pool forms some of the apple and baked good notes are coming through behind the pumpkin, wax, spice and smoke. After a couple of minutes a thick, honey-like smell starts coming through.
After half an hour: Getting thick notes of honey (maybe honeyed vanilla), wax, smoke at the top layered over pumpkin, spices (nutmeg/allspice especially), and a hint of apple and baked sweets.
After an hour: About the same as it was at half an hour - in the scent cloud out from the candle I’m getting honey/honeyed vanilla, wax, pumpkin, and strong dark spices with a wisp of smoke… and then a hint of apple and baked goods. Up close the baked goods and spices scent are stronger with maybe a touch more apple.
Official notes: Pumpkin cupcakes with buttercream frosting, and a single candy corn on top!
So, the pumpkin is the pumpkin. The cupcake is the baked good. The spices I am sure are part of the ‘pumpkin cupcake’ accord - and that wisp of smoke I think is one of the spices in the mix. The honeyed vanilla smell is I’m pretty sure the buttercream frosting… and then the waxy smell is either the candy corn, or part of the frosting accord. I think what I was interpreting as apple is part of the candy corn accord.
Verdict: I’ll certainly use my full size, but probably won’t repurchase. The strong honey-like notes were a bit overwhelming for me. I’d recommend it to anyone with a serious sweet tooth for pumpkin baked goods - but it is very, very sweet in a honey-like way.

Sleepy Hollow
Unlit: Leather, mist, black musk and something sweet and a little masculine. A floral I think. Or perhaps a fallen leaves accord.
Freshly lit: Warm leather, freshly fallen leaves, and a bit of earthiness (reminds me of a warm patchouli) and a slice through of something a little sweet. Almost fruity
After half an hour: So the timing on this is a little wonky - I trimmed the wick a little short and it kept burning down and I kept having to relight. Anyways the scent was stable - leather, mist, maybe some patchouli, something sweet - fruit and/or a floral. Touch of something reminiscent of mist. It’s a really nice, warm comforting leather smell.
After an hour: Still stable - leather, sweetness, fallen leaves, earthiness - a very sweet, slightly masculine, autumnal scent. This is actually one I’d wear as a personal scent. I really like this.
Official notes: The foreboding scent of smashed pumpkins, oudh, leather, and unearthly incense.
So the leather is the leather and is the main scent I get from this. The earthiness is the oudh - but also some of the kind of… creamy sweetness of the scent. It mingles with the leather. The slightly fruity scent is probably the sweeter side of the pumpkins. I think the incense is what smells like dry, slightly smoky fallen leaves to me.
Verdict: This one might get an upsize depending on how many of this collection I like! Regardless keeping what I’ve got and burning it. If you like leather based, dark scents give this one a go - the leather is not remotely chemical or acrid.

Black Roses
Unlit: Dark, fruity floral. Kind of musky - either a musky wood or just a straight musk. At the top is a rose - surprisingly bright, not a deep rose but more like a tea rose. There’s a fruit in here - I think maybe a blackberry? So like, a bright rose and blackberry layered over musk.
Freshly lit: Rose is sweeter and deeper - almost sugared. Definitely a fruit in there, pretty sure it’s blackberry. Still some muskiness to the scent but that could be a musky wood (like an oudh), a straight musk, or just part of the natural rose scent. A little waxy smelling - which could be a wax note, the wax of the candle, or perhaps something like a fallen leaves accord: so rose, blackberry, musk (?), and wax.
After half an hour: Strong fruit (blackberry I think - tart) and smooth, creamy musky notes underscored by rose. At this point the fruit and the rose are blending heavily making the rose seem brighter. A tiny bit of sugared sweetness to the mix - but that could just be part of the fruit note.
After an hour: Just as a note this one has a substantial throw on it. The scent cloud around me is quite strong.
Blackberries and roses, with a bit of muskiness. I feel like I’m missing something in this - maybe there’s some citrus further enhancing the tartness of the blackberry. Maybe a little bit of a waxy note - but mostly just… blackberry and roses.
Official notes: Deep black amber, velvety roses, clove, dark musk, and and cinnamon leaf.
So! No blackberry - I think what’s smelling like blackberry to me are the amber + clove. The cinnamon leaf might be adding some tartness to the scent. The musky smell is the dark musk… and the roses are the roses.

Samhain Dusk
Unlit: This one’s got a purple note to it I’m inclined to call fruity - but it could just be a sweet floral (like a hyacinth maybe?). The last few scents I’ve been like FRUIT when there’s no fruit - so I’m wondering if the tea candles picked up some smell from sitting in a box with Persephone Descending (the next on the list which definitely has fruit).
Anyway, I think this one that’ll open up more once lit. Mostly I’m getting Sweet Purple Note and kind of a gray note I can’t place.
Freshly lit: Definitely opened up once lit. There’s a sweet scent like burning piles of fallen leaves - smoky, a little waxy, and sweet. There’s another sweet smell in there that I think is the initial a gourmand or purple note I got. It kind of reminds me of mulled wine. I feel like there’s a touch of something atmospheric in here - like ozone or mist.
After half an hour: A sweet-smokey leaf fire, mulled wine, something gourmand - hard to put my finger on. It’s similar to the nutty toasted marshmallows that Sihaya has used in Ember and Mallow but a) it seems a little different to my nose, and b) logically I don’t think they’d have two fire-and-marshmallow scents in one release season. Anyway, I could see it being a nutty-sweet straw note or some other kind of fall gourmand that’s toasty and nutty.
After an hour: Stable to how it was at half an hour. I do want to note - I wonder if this has copal in it, it smells kind of like copal.
Official notes: Dry amber, cassia, clove, the smoke of distant bonfires, and the faintest breath of orange peel.
So the mulled wine smell is a combination of the orange peel (fruit) with the cassia (spice) and clove (spice). The dry amber is probably what reminded me or nutty gourmand (if I had to guess). The smoke of distant bonfires is the piles-of-burning-leaves smell.
Verdict: For me Ember and Mallow is more my speed for a bonfire smell. This won’t be an upsize for me - but I do recommend it for someone looking for a sweet-resinous (think slightly resinous mulled wine) combined with a leaf-bonfire smell give this one a spin.

Persephone Descending
I recall this one having dragon's blood because a friend asked me for candle recommendations and while browsing the Sihaya site he was like ‘What is dragon’s blood???’. I also kinda recall this one having a pomegranate note because… well… Persephone perfume.
Also: the picture on this one because of that aforementioned user-error in wick trimming. I trimmed the wick too short on this one and at one point uh... the wax seemed to catch fire? I wasn't aware that was a thing? It might not be a thing? But it looked like it - the flame got huge. I quickly extinguished it, cooled the wax, then relit and the candle stayed well behaved... but that's why there's a giant wax pool instead of me showing off the pretty-pretty glitter.
Unlit: A very dark fruity scent - could be a straight fruity-resinous or it could be a fruity-resinous with floral nuances. What I’m getting is dark fruit at the top (guessing pomegranate) and resin (that I know to be dragon’s blood). It’s a very red-purple dragon’s blood - rich, reminiscent of berries. There’s also something creamy in here - maybe a white musk? Overall it’s a very soft, kind of cold red-purple take on a fruity resinous scent.
Freshly lit: The dragon’s blood really comes out at this phase - it’s almost floral in quality, very resinous - to the point it reminds me of holly. It’s underscored by pomegranate, something like berries, and that creamy smell.
After half an hour: Pomegranate at the top, underscored by a strong bitter almost-metallic smell I think might be an incense and/or stone note. It kind of reminds me of berries - like, if berries were a metal that would be this smell. Beneath that is the resinous purple dragon’s blood and just a touch of creaminess. Very dark though. We’re talking inky purples in terms of colors for this scent.
As a note: I walked out of the room for a moment to use the bathroom and when I came back the entire room was suffused with scent. We’re always running a fan in here but I was impressed with the ability of a tea candle to fill the entire room with scent.
After an hour: A bit less metallic than it was at the 30 min mark. I think there’s a note in here my nose is waffling on - like incense, or stone. Something atmospheric. But otherwise the same with the pomegranate/dragon’s blood and berries.
Official notes: Pomegranate, cranberry, and just a touch of dragon's blood to soften the edges.
Ah-ha! So the harsh berries-but-metal scent is the cranberry, which, yep, cranberry can certainly go kind of metallic. The pomegranate is the pomegranate - and the dragon’s blood is the resin. It’s a dark dragon’s blood though. I also wonder what in here was reading as ‘soft’ or ‘creamy’ to my nose.
Verdict: Too harsh for me. For people looking for darker fruity scents with an edge this may be worth trying.

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