I like to have candles in my house, and I’ll buy any candle so long as it smells good before it’s lit. I buy cheap dollar store brands and more expensive candles (like Gold Canyon, and Salt City candles are hands down my favorite), and it seems to me that certain scents just linger longer whether you go cheap or spend a larger amount for a more expensive candle.
I’ve noticed that the only fruit scents that seems to permeate a house for a long time is apple, apple cinnamon, or mixed berry. Likewise, pear seems to last the least amount of time, barely sputtering out a noticeable fragrance before all you can smell is hot wax. Creamy peach scents fare a little better, and cranberry lasts long enough to decipher the scent, then fades fairly rapidly (within an hour or so). I have never failed with a mixed berry, apple, or apple cinnamon scent in my home.
Musky scents, like linen, pine, sandalwood, and rain (and variations of these) tend to last a long time as well. They linger in the house as if you just cleaned laundry or put an air freshener in my house, and while pine is one of my least favorite scents, I really enjoy it if I also light a vanilla candle nearby to help battle the strong odor. Be warned that musky candles are also STRONG candle scents, so unless you really enjoy a cleanser smell in your house, stick to burning less invasive scents like sandalwood or rain (or the ocean scents) to make your house smell fresh.
Vanilla is the only scent that either consistently burns great, or completely sucks and fails to burn nicely after lighting it. Likewise, I noticed the same thing about hazelnut and caramel scents. Something about the vanilla-y infused candles just seem to either be awesome and totally permeate the house with a calming aroma, or completely fizzle out and only smell up a 2 foot radius near the candle itself. They seem to be better if burning with a stronger scent, like lavender or a musk, but left alone are either a huge surprise or a total bust.
Scents that seem to never fail no matter what brand you buy are coffee scents (like mocha or coffee cake) or scents that smell like pie, like apple pie or pumpkin pie. Anything cinnamon-infused tends to just smell awesome, so if you love vanilla, get a cinnamon candle (or if you are lucky to find a vanilla and cinnamon scent in one single candle, woo hoo!) and burn them together. Cinnamon scents just seem to instantly plow your house with that awesome smell of cooking, and cinnamon is my fallback scent when other candles totally tank.
The strongest and most reliable candle scent is actually my least favorite, unless it’s paired with another scent to help mellow it out, and that scent is lavender. In my experience, even the crappiest lavender candle will still manage to spit its scent all over my house, to the point where I can almost taste the flower in my mouth. I really wish I liked lavender, I just don’t, but still burn it anyhow as with a lighter scent, like vanilla or caramel, it actually can smell quite nice.
So if you see a lavender or cinnamon candle, however cheap or expensive, you can be sure that they are going to please you with their scent.