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The First Great Candle Burn-Off Of 2016 — Black Orchid from Aquiesse vs. Black Hibiscus from India Hicks


Although the days are getting longer, and I can feel summer on the other side of the fence, every day around 4:30pm I remember we’ve still got a lot of night to trudge through. To say nothing of the cold, even in California.

Time for another Great Candle Burn-Off!

Let’s compare Black Orchid from Aquiesse , and Black Hibiscus, from India Hicks. I know! A theme! Floral Noir! Wholly accidental, as you’ll soon see.


I picked up the Aquiesse candle at the boutique where Tish Jett spoke last December, in an attempt to be a good citizen and chip in for my invitation. The store was not my thing, shall we say, but I smelled all the candles on offer before picking this one as the best of the lot. I also chose the India Hicks candle because of a blogger connection. Patricia van Essche sells the line, here, and I want to support her.


OK so I’m a dope. I thought these were roughly price-equivalent. Picked up the Aquiesse for $50, paid $54 for India. But the Aquiesse is 11 ounces, India only 5.8. Ooops.

Packaging, Design & Materials

Look how similar the packaging, at least at first glance. Black and silver for Aquiesse,Aquiesse

black and gold for Madame Hicks.

Black Hibiscus India Hicks

But Aquiesse sports a Romanesque monogram logo, India handwriting script. Aquiesse uses a vaguely Moroccan pattern as background, Hick, beetles. Hick’s subheading says to me, “English — but not too formal to hang out on Harbour Island.” I’m going to guess Aquiesse is going for opulence, and India, casual glamor? Probably should be spelled “glamour.”

You brought issues of safety and environment to my attention last time round, so this time I checked. Both candles are 100% soy wax, and lead-free.


Both candles seem to behave themselves reasonably when on fire. No spitting of cinders, no pillars of sooty smoke. In first burning, I thought India was going to drown in her own wax, but I tilted a little out of the way and now she flames like a dream. Short wick, no sputtering, no problem. Aquiesse, which I admit to having burned much less frequently, seems to insist on a high flame, which then gutters in the draft a bit while emitting white smoke.


The Scent Itself

Here’s the thing. I love the way India’s Black Hibiscus smells. Love it. It’s earthy and fresh, with just enough sweet.  Light but pervasive, as though I were burning the wood of a tropical shrub, one that dried just last week in salt and sand. I use it every day. On the other hand, I don’t like the Aquiesse much at all. Even though I sniffed it, unburned, in the store, and thought it was good. Not. Smells to me like an old-fashioned department store and laundry soap. Ooops.


I can’t tell! I have burned India’s candle just about every day since right before Christmas. It’s maybe 2/3 done. Since I don’t like the Aquiesse, I’ve lit it only 5-10 times. I know, I should be prepared to suffer for my research but I simply cannot. We’ll have to believe the manufacturers, who give the Black Orchid 100 hours, and the Hibiscus 47-50 hours.


Final Score

Um, yeah. India Hicks Black Hibiscus is the clear winner, even in the face of higher price per unit of fire and scent. Again, you can find it here. Should you actually prefer the scent of department stores, the Black Orchid can be had on Amazon for less than I paid for it in the boutique that shall not be named. I was prepared for either candle to win, as one must be in Burn-Offs, but I am quite happy the champion belongs to Patricia.

Next Burn-off I’ll go back to the comments from the 2015 post and pick some of your recommendations. I’m thinking citrus, and sunny, to match the lengthening days.


Amazon affiliate links may generate commissions. I have no commercial relationship with PVE or India Hicks, those links are not monetized, the product was neither free to me nor discounted.

41 Responses

  1. Good to know! Usually you get what you pay for with candles. I’ll put this on my list. They’re good hostess gifts. I couldn’t give someone something I hadn’t vetted, but I can take your word for it.

    1. @RoseAG, Thanks for your trust. As long as the recipient isn’t a diehard evergreen lover, or sweet frangipani fan, this should be a hit.

  2. Love your description of the India Hicks candle…and her lifestyle, since that’s what we’re really buying. My dear friend, Marzena is filming and photographing India’s tour around the world as India promotes her business. It’s fun to see the photos on India’s blog and Instagram page!

  3. I too am in love with the Hicks Black Hibiscus. I bought it to give over the holidays, forgot I had it, then gave something else. Upshot being its now mine and it is fab!

  4. Great idea! I own about six scented candles. Apparently, they’re everyone’s favorite hostess gift.
    I should make a contest out of using them up. Or maybe just Marie Kondo them out of my house.

    And hey, if you need permission to toss the Aquiesse, it is hereby given. Life’s too short to burn stinky candles. You have done your duty by your readers, so toss with abandon, say I.

  5. Thank you for your honest critique of the 2 candles. I love candles and scent and have found my Holy Grail with Belle Fleur. The candles had their start at the most wonderful floral designer in NYC of the same name. I have been burning them for 10 years. My favorite is Bergamot Cedar though the floral scents are unique and delicious also. These are pricey candles but they burn long and last well. I have a candle that I haven’t burned in years in my office and I can still get a whiff as I enter the room.
    I so enjoy your intelligent and quirky blog!

    Check out the web site.

    1. @Arlene, Thank you both for the recommendation of Belle Fleur, and for the kind words. I think I’ve been making my way towards intelligent and quirky all my life. And here I just might be and look who I get to keep company with!

  6. Hmmn. I too love your description of the India Hicks candle. Perhaps I need to check out the various options in the world of candles, seeing as there is a candle void in my life at the moment.

  7. Love candles, not familiar with either of these. Lafco, Vie Luxe and Willams Sonoma also are good candle brands. Glad you are back and well enough to test scented candles.

    1. @Mary anne, In truth I did the testing before I got sick, but I am well enough to press Publish, and to reply to the comments eventually, so progress is being made.

  8. I recently discovered PF Candle Co. from someone I follow on Instagram:

    Bought their top-selling scent, Teakwood and Tobacco, and it is SO lovely. The cost is about $20 for 7 oz. They are also made from soy wax, come in a cool, simple package and are made in LA.

    May be worth considering for your next candle burn-off!

    1. Ikr?! I heard someone say they reuse the container as a pot for succulents. Think I will try that once it’s gone! (It burns really cleanly so far so I could see it working well.)

  9. Love India Hicks entire line. Thanks for the link, it’s getting hard to find in Charrlotte.

  10. It sounds so good – might have to try one, although my husband is not a fan of scented candles at all. Always asks me if I’m going to burn incense next.
    But one by the bathtub sounds good and I like how you describe the scent.
    Glad you’re feeling better.

  11. I have sampled some of Imdia Hicks scents and quite like her products. As far as cables go I have s few favourites. Diptyque and Aveda. I like this candle burn off series.
    Hope you are feeling better.

  12. I love your description and honest review! The candle glow and scent sounds divine.
    I use L’Occitane sticks,perfume diffuser and Candied Fruits perfume for home recently

  13. I too have a BLOGGING FRIEND who is selling HICKS line.I purchased not this candle but another.LOVED YOUR COMPARISON
    THAT STORE had VERY un-friendly SALES PEOPLE IN IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    THANKS for the REVIEW!

    1. @LA CONTESSA, Did you like the other one? Casuarina? And one sales person was very nice to me and got me water. We shall say no more about other people;).

  14. Lisa I am so thrilled to hear you love our Black Hibiscus Candle! Being an India Hicks Style Ambassador is a passion and I am fortunate to be working alongside Patricia on this adventure!

    The Arts by Karena
    Dreams of Spring!

  15. Thank-you Dear. I am delighted and India is too, about winning your Candle- burn-off. I know it is not about winning but sharing. Thanks so much,

  16. I reuse the empty glass with tealights. There’s a lot of winter here in Norway and I can never have enough candle light.

  17. I have a couple of scented candles.
    I’d love to find a way to move the fragranced air – like the paddles on those wooden Christmas scene thingies.
    Do you know if such a thing exists?

  18. What a great idea! I have to admit, while living in New Hampshire the past few months I had candles going all day long. Big white ones tucked in glass vases of all shapes and sizes. There is something about a candle on a cold winters day…all day and into the night. The only problem is that I was buying A LOT of candles. I then discovered that not all candles are created equal. I burned unscented in the big vases and went for the fragrant candles as needed. I could go on and on but I won’t except to say, I am very excited to try the India candle you recommended. You got me on your description of the fragrance. I am a fan of Thyme Frasier Fir in winter and I am in the mood for something new. Mission accomplished, thank you! xx

  19. It saddens me to hear the negativity in the post about our beautiful store. The staff all worked so hard to ensure that Tish had a successful book signing event and we were all excited to meet her and her friends that were here to cover the event in their blogs. We have been recommending Tish’s book to our clients and sending them to the blogs of the people in attendance – which is how we heard that people were saying unkind things…
    Lisa if you are unhappy with your candle please come by and we will happily refund you…the Black Orchid is a client favorite, but we have many others to try!

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