Is any room complete without its own complementary candle?
They can turn bathtime into a spa trip. A quick dinner for two into an ambient evening in. Or replace the stale kitchen smell with something more juicy.
There are candles that crackle. Candles with crystals buried in them. Candles filled with petals and glitter and seashells.
But as beautiful as they might look, it’s what’s inside that counts.
Any candlemaker will tell you: the perfect recipe is a delicate balancing act. Too much fragrance, and your wax won’t harden. Too little fragrance, and the only thing you’ll smell is a burning wick.
Some waxes can handle plenty of fragrance. Others lose their structure when you add an extra half drop of oil.
For this article, we’ll focus on how to fragrance your candles.
Essential oils? Fragrance oils? Absolute oils?
Everyone has a different opinion on which oils you should use to scent your candles.
So let’s talk about your three main options: essential oils, fragrance oils, and absolute oils.
Essential oils might seem like the obvious choice. They’re potent, so you only need to use a small ratio to the rest of your ingredients. They’re natural, and also provide aromatherapeutic benefits. So your candles will smell amazing, and have the power to soothe, uplift, energise or refresh whoever is in the room with them.
It turns out, essential oils can be quite weak in candles. Based on the conversations we have with customers, many makers choose a 3% fragrance ratio. Some essential oils will work well at this percentage, but others will only give off a faint smell. Which is fine if you prefer a delicate scent throw - not so much if you’re looking to fragrance a large room with just one aromatherapy candle.
The problem is, if you add more essential oils, the candle mixture will begin to sweat out the excess. This is where you’ll see droplets on top of the candle. Freestanding candles won’t be able to hold their form, and contained candles could get gloopy too.
Your next option is to use something more potent. Absolute oils are a great option, because they’re also extracted from the natural source, just like essential oils. Absolute oils are the result of solvent extraction, and their fragrances are far more potent and you can get away with using a very small amount to scent your candles.
In the short term they’re more expensive, but fragrance oils last much longer, and they’ll smell far better in your candles.
If you’re looking a scent that matches the real-life equivalent of your candle - for example, an apple candle that smells just like an apple - look no further than fragrance oils.
Fragrance oils get a bad rep; many people complain that they’re jam packed with chemicals (news flash: essential oils are chemicals too. Chemicals are found in nature!) But these synthetic alternatives provide an extremely realistic scent, with a pleasantly low price tag.
You won’t get any therapeutic benefits from using fragrance oils in candles. But they’ll smell more true to life than any other oil in your candles. Ask yourself - do you want to create aromatherapy candles with essential oils properties, or just beautiful candles that smell divine?
Avoid these common mistakes
Before we close off this article, it’s important to highlight that your choice of candle wax will have a significant impact on which oils you can use to fragrance your products.
Softer waxes won’t solidify if too much fragrance is used. Equally, harder waxes might need a higher concentration of fragrance to penetrate the mixture. Unfortunately, there’s no right or wrong with recipes. You’ll just need to experiment until you find the perfect balance.
Consider whether your candles are freestanding, or placed inside containers. Freestanding pillar candles will need to be more solid than their contained counterparts. How strong do you want your candles to be? Paraffin wax has the strongest scent throw (which means they smell strongest for longest), soy and coconut wax will give you a cleaner burn.
As you combine wax and fragrance, be careful not to overheat the oils. Depending on which type of oil you use, the flash point (the point at which the oil begins to transform from liquid to gas), will be different. Overheat your oils in the mixing process, and they'll quickly spoil. Always research the unique oil before turning up the heat! (Or drop us a message, we're always happy to help).