Difference Between Fragrance Oil and Essential Oil and Which To Use

There are so many choices that must be made when making a candle at home. What kind of wax do you use? What kind of container do you choose? Likewise, what kind of wick works best in your wax? Furthermore, what kind of fragrance oil should you use?

What is the difference between fragrance oil and essential oil?

Essential oils are derived completely from plant matter without any synthetic additives.

Fragrance oils are scientifically and synthetically manufactured. 

Essential oils will provide an all-natural scent to your candles, while being more expensive and lasting longer than fragrance oils. Fragrance oils are more inexpensive comparatively, are not natural and can produce toxic fumes, and have a much stronger scent. 

When it comes to choosing between essential oils and fragrance oils, it can be hard to decide. So, what is the difference, and why is that important to making your candles? How do you know which one to choose, and which one is better for in your homemade candles? Read on to find out more about how to better make your decision between the two types of candle oils. 

What is an essential oil?

When it comes to essential oils, they are derived from a natural source. These concentrated liquids are usually from some sort of organic plant matter and are the strongest scents that come off that plant. Why is it called “essential” oils? Because that scent represents the very essence of the plant that it came from. 

Essential oils are created through the distillation of plant matter—usually with steam or water, or by cold pressing—and once those chemicals are extracted, combined with some sort of carrier oil for use. These are not meant to be consumed or swallowed, but can be applied to the skin to absorb the natural plant chemicals. Smelling these scents are also believed to stimulate your limbic system, which regulates your emotions, behaviors, and long-term memory. 

Essential oils are not just used in candle making. They are used in aromatherapy, specifically to reduce stress, anxiety, headaches, migraines, inflammation, and even help with sleep issues. 

Because of their creation, they have a much longer shelf life compared to fragrance oils, possibly lasting fifteen years or more. 

What is a fragrance oil?

Difference Between Fragrance Oil and Essential Oil and Which To Use

A fragrance oil is a manufactured scent that is made in a lab, created synthetically and added to a carrier oil. While most fragrance oils are made from synthetic aroma compounds, they are also mixed in with another diluted carrier oil like propylene glycol, vegetable oil, or mineral oil. 

These oils are stronger scented than an essential oil and can make your candles last longer when used as a fragrance, but they are synthetic and can help to create toxic fumes that may come out of your candle. These oils typically do not include any sort of natural plant matter.  Fragrance oils do not have a long shelf life compared to essential oils, as they usually only last about a year before their fragrance starts to fade. 

One potential issue with fragrance oils is due to their manufactured nature. While the fumes are very low, they can cause chemicals that could be toxic to your health. In most cases, they can cause allergic reactions in people. 

What is the difference between fragrance oils and essential oils?

The main difference between the two oils is simply how they are made. Essential oils are natural oils, while fragrance oils are created in a lab and manufactured. Fragrance oils have a more intense smell due to how they are made, while essential oils are going to have a natural smell—one that is not bolstered by any additives or chemicals. 

Essential oils have a better shelf life compared to fragrance oils—which means they last much longer when they’re sitting on someone’s shelf or waiting to be burned. 

Essential oils can be used for other uses, while fragrance oils are made specifically for candles. 

Why is choosing one important?

When it comes to making your candle, you will need to make a decision on what kind of fragrance oil you want to use, whether it is your typical, factory-made fragrance oil, or an essential oil. There are a few questions you need to ask yourself before you make that decision:

  • How strong do I want my candle to smell? This is important because fragrance oils are stronger scented oils than essential oils. If you’re focused more on the scent of the candle than any other factor, this is a deciding question to ask yourself. 
  • How long do you want your candle to last? If you want your candle to have a longer shelf life, then you should consider using an essential oil rather than a fragrance oil. Essential oils can last up to fifteen years maintaining their scent, while fragrance oils usually start to lose their scent after a year. 
  • How important is being environmentally friendly to you? Fragrance oils are synthetic, while essential oils are natural. This is one of the biggest draws of candle makers to the essential oil market—by using all natural cotton wicks, a natural wax like soy, and essential oils, their candles are made completely naturally, eliminating any toxicity from chemicals.
  • How much do you want to spend on your candle fragrance? Fragrance oils are usually inexpensive, due to how their made, however, essential oils can range drastically in price, even up to $50 for a several fluid ounce bottle. If money is in question, consider asking yourself whether one of the other reasons is a large enough deciding factor for you to choose the more expensive essential oil over the less expensive fragrance oil. 
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Which oil is best to use?

Difference Between Fragrance Oil and Essential Oil and Which To Use

When finally deciding on which oil is best for you to use, it truly comes down to what you want out of your candle. If you want an all-natural candle made from a natural wax with a natural wick, you should use an essential oil. If you want a longer lasting candle, an essential oil fragrance is for you. If you decide you want a stronger smelling candle and want to make it inexpensively, you should choose the fragrance oil. 

Neither one is better than the other, as it is a case-by-case basis. It just depends on what you want out of your candle experience and if you’re making to sell, what you think your customers would want. Find out what people are searching for from you, and if you find that more people want a natural candle, choose the essential oil. If your customers want a strongly scented candle, fragrance oil is the way to go. If you find yourself unable to choose, you can mix the oils—making a candle that fits into your wants and needs. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I mix essential oils and fragrance oils in the same candle? 

Yes, you can mix both essential oils and fragrance oils in a candle to create its scent. You will create a stronger scent that way, and the candle will have a longer shelf life. Your candle will be much more affordable, as long as you keep down the usage of essential oils in it. You will also be adding non-natural material to your candle if you are using a fragrance oil. 

How much fragrance oil should I use in my homemade candles?
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For most waxes and most fragrance oils, you should use about one fluid ounce to one pound of wax. This can vary depending on both the oil and the wax that you are using, but most wax manufacturers will label their product with the maximum allowable fragrance oil additive. 

What is the best wax to use when making essential oil candles?

If you are choosing to use essential oils for your candle fragrances, it is best to stick with a natural type of wax. Soy tends to be the best type of wax for your essential oil candle due to its low melting temperature and absorption rate. 

How many scents can I mix in a candle?

You can use several scents to create a complex smell for your candle, but you should limit your different scent profiles to two to three per candle. You can easily overwhelm the wax with your fragrance oil, and that can create issues in burning and mixing. 

Can you mix your own fragrance oils?

It is possible to make your own fragrance oils for candles. Use almond, olive, or jojoba oil as a carrier oil in a glass container, then find your scent—usually spices or dried herbs work best in candles, or you can use dried and crushed flower pedals. Place them in your oil, making sure they are fully submerged, and mix them in. Put water in a pan, then place your glass container in that water and turn it on low heat for about five minutes to start to infuse the oil. Do not let the water boil. Cover your jar and leave it for about a week, mixing it once per day, and then strain out your additives with cheesecloth before letting it sit for another week. After that, the oil should be infused enough to use as a candle fragrance oil. 

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