Where it all began

Why Dundee Candle Works?

I moved to Dundee from Glasgow in 2012 and am proud to call this city my adopted home. Many people thought it probably wasn’t good business sense to use ‘Dundee’ in the candle business name and that I should use a more ‘generic’ Scottish name to reach a wider audience. Whilst I appreciate their point of view, I’ve fallen in love with Dundee and the East of Scotland and I’m proud to represent the region with products I put my heart into. My aim is to showcase everything I think is great about Dundee and the wider East of Scotland. I have faith the region has a bright future and take great pride in trying to contribute to that future, even in the smallest way possible. I’m a believer that if you want to make improvements and change perceptions you need to be willing to be brave and take some risks. Stand up to those strong voices that accept things to be true simply because they’re endlessly repeated and go unchallenged. If you come from Dundee and the wider area, I’d love for you to join me on this journey, proudly changing perceptions together…

Where it all began

Each Dundee Candle Works product is individually created by hand to ensure quality and customer satisfaction. But how did we end up with the products you now display in your homes? .....

The first candle idea to be born was Marmalade & Lime. It is our original, first born, number one scent. The reasons for this are twofold; marmalade is so synonymous with the city of Dundee, and citrus candle scents are simply lovely and fresh. We felt with Marmalade & Lime we could create a contemporary candle scent, readily identifiable with Dundee, that customers would understand and love.

The path to creating from scratch a vegan, sustainable candle is not easy! We tried multiple waxes, glasses, scent profiles and wick sizes (have you ever had an in-depth discussion about the width of a cotton wick? I wouldn’t blame you!). We tried clear glasses, larger glasses, thought about not having glasses, until we found our lovely amber glassware. We then decided to make life even more difficult by creating a single and triple wick version! We tried sunflower wax, soy wax, rapeseed wax but found problems with them all – colour, scent throw, burn time, ease of work. We then found our beloved coconut wax, which we blend with a tiny portion of rapeseed wax to make a truly bespoke, vegan wax blend. Coconut wax is beautifully pale in colour, burns slowly and gives a wonderful scent throw, both cold in the glass on a shelf and when it is burned. The day we managed to put all this together and create the Marmalade & Lime candles we sell today was quite the celebration!

After Marmalade & Lime came Jute & Tobacco, which we knew we wanted to be a much warmer, sensual scent. The name of course originates from the jute mills that Dundee is famous for. The “tobacco” seemed to concern some, but it is an inspiration and not an actual scent we use – we wanted to make something smoky and cosy and the name seemed just perfect. 

Firs & Fairways was dreamt up from all the wonderful golf courses that are right on our doorstep in Tayside, Angus, Perthshire and Fife– Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and St Andrews are all within an easy drive from Dundee. We knew this scent had to be bright and refreshing, with notes of pine and balsam, redolent of the forests and trees which surround these historic courses.

Sugared Almond is based on that Dundee classic – Dundee cake! We did consider calling it “Dundee Cake” but decided against it for various reasons.  We went for a gentle nod to Dundee cake with Sugared Almond (not quite the blue or purple sugared almonds we remember from childhood, which snuck into some product photographs!). It is a sweet, homely candle that we think gives a scent of the past – home baking, almonds and red fruit.

With these four scents, Dundee Candle Works was born...

For 2022, we decided to move into reed diffusers, having clearly forgotten how difficult it is creating a new product from scratch! We knew we still wanted them to be vegan and sustainable, which does take a little extra research and time in development, and finding appropriate amber glassware that matched our candles took some time. We now offer our diffusers in four scents, and are pleased they can last for up to 6 months.

Not being enough gluttons for punishment, at the same time we decided to develop two new candle scents.

Earl Grey & Verbena was created for the relationship Dundee had with the Earl Grey Docks, and like its namesake is a brighter, citrus candle with a pleasant scent of bergamot.

Whisky Marmalade candles seemed a natural progression from Marmalade & Lime; still with the orange base our customers loved, but with a little hint of the warmth and glow provided by the water of life.

A range of Scottish gift sets quickly followed as a means to provide a luxury handmade gift with Dundee Candle Works understated Scottish identity. Scottish gift sets are available in the following range and make perfect birthday, homecoming, or anniversary gifts:

Whisky Marmalade Gift Set

Marmalade & Lime Gift Set

Classic Dundee Gift Set

Firs & Fairways Gift Set

The Marmalade Gift Set

Breakfast Tea Gift Set

Despite learning so many new crafts and skills, developing each scent whether it is a 180ml candle, 500ml candle or reed diffuser takes hours in our workshop. All products are made by hand and our quality control is rigorous. Believe it or not, since launching and at the time of writing (30/11/22) we had not had a single candle or diffuser returned! One benefit of the exhaustive testing is that my home is full of tester products, I have cupboards full, because I refuse to let any goods go to waste! Plus, it’s nice knowing the coconut wax isn’t filling my home with diesel fumes like paraffin wax would!

So that’s a brief summary of how our products were born and I really hope you enjoy using them.

And thank you for showing we can change perceptions together when we truly believe in something.

Katie Watson

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