Candles are wonderful aromatherapy instruments. For candle-making hobbyists, getting your candles to smell the way you want is a tricky proposition, as there are a lot of variables to achieving good scent throw. So, what is the best way to make your candles smell stronger?
Making scented candles involves following a series of steps so the fragrant oil burns correctly. Follow these six steps to make your candles smell stronger:
- Use the right wax
- Heat the wax to the right temperature
- Measure the fragrance
- Size your wick
- Cure your candle
- Conduct burn tests
Making a non-scented candle is easy, but with scented candles, things become more complicated. This is because the fragrant oils must bind with the wax correctly and burn at the proper temperature in order to have good scent throw.
I am going to show you how to optimize your candle’s scent throw by analyzing candles made with the best fragrant-holding waxes: paraffin, soy wax, and beeswax. While making scented candles is slightly more complicated than non-scented candles, any candle-maker can create strongly scented candles by following these steps.
Step 1: Use the Right Wax
Did you know the wax you choose has a lot to do with how much scent throw your candle will have? Here is a chart with the candle waxes that hold the most scent:
|Wax Type||Ranking as Best Wax for Strong Scent throw|
As you can see from the chart, paraffin is the number one candle wax for scent throw. Paraffin is a wax created by petroleum by-products. Costing only $3 per pound, it is not only the best wax you can use in candles to achieve good scent throw, but it is also the cheapest of the candle-making waxes.
Soy wax will also give your candles great scent throw. Many candle enthusiasts prefer soy wax because it is sustainable, renewable, and all-natural. Additionally, soy wax is a clean-burning wax, so it won’t fill the air in your home with soot or petroleum by-products.
Beeswax is the third-best candle wax for scent throw. And beeswax is unique because you don’t even have to add scented oils to get a great smell. As a beeswax candle burns, it fills your home with a lovely sweet-scented honey aroma. Betterbee has a great selection of 100% pure beeswax for candle-making.
Step 2: Heat the Wax to the Right Temperature
No matter what wax you use, the fragrant oils you choose for your candles must be added at the right temperature or they will not bind properly with the wax. Most people think the optimal wax temperature to add the fragrant oils is 185 degrees Fahrenheit (85 degrees Celsius).
This is only partially true, however, as each type of wax has its own optimal temperature at which you want to add the fragrant oil. Check out this chart for the optimal temperature your wax should be when fragrant oil is added.
|Wax Type||Optimal Temperature to add fragrance.|
|Paraffin||185 degrees F (85 degrees C)|
|Soy wax||180 degrees F (82 degrees C)|
|Beeswax||160 degrees F (71 degrees C)|
Why Do Different Waxes Have Different Ideal Temperatures?
The reason why you add fragrance at different temperatures for individual waxes is because each wax has its own melting point. This is something I didn’t understand when I first started making candles, so I always added fragrance when the wax was at 185 degrees regardless of wax. Then, when I had issues achieving great scent throw with some of my candles, I started investigating why.
The reason comes down to physics. If the wax is too hot, the molecules are moving too fast, and the fragrant oils burn off instead of binding. If the wax is too cool, then the fragrant oils clump in one place and will not dissipate throughout the wax, no matter how much you stir your candle.
Make sure to get an accurate thermometer, follow the temperature guidelines, and you will be on your way to great scented candles!
Step 3: Measure the Fragrance
Just as each type of wax has an ideal temperature to add the fragrant oils, each wax also has different fragrance loads. Here is a chart I made with the optimal fragrance load for each of our three candle wax types:
|Wax Type||Optimal fragrance load|
|Paraffin||1 ounce per pound of wax/ 6% fragrance load|
|Soy wax||1.6 ounces per pound of wax/ 10% fragrance load|
|Beeswax||1-2 ounces per pound of wax/ 6-12% fragrance load|
How to Compute Fragrance Load
You can find the fragrance load of a particular wax by dividing the ounces of fragrant oils per pound of wax to get its fragrance load percentage. There are 16 ounces in a pound, so for paraffin, 1 ounce of fragrant oils divided by 16 ounces of wax equals a fragrance load of 6.25% or roughly 6%.
Conversely, if you are working with a wax that only provides the fragrance load percentage, you can determine how many ounces of fragrant oils you should add per pound of wax by multiplying the fragrance load percentage time 16. So, in the example of soy wax, which has a fragrance load of 10 percent, .10 times 16= 1.6 ounces of fragrant oils you would add to each pound of soy wax.
Why Fragrance Load Matters
More fragrance does not necessarily equal stronger-scented candles. In fact, adding too much fragrant oil will cause your candle to burn incorrectly and your wick to clog. This will negatively impact your scent throw.
On the other hand, adding too little fragrant oils can make your candles underwhelming. They will smell very weak if they smell at all. That’s why you need to follow this chart, since adding too little or too much fragrant oil will make your scented candles weak.
Candle Size Matters Too
Fragrance load can also be optimized according to the size of your candle container. Use this chart from Wooden Wick to gauge how the size of your container can also have an effect on how many fragrant oils you should add to your wax.
Step 4: Size Your Wick
Correct wick diameter size also influences scent throw. This is because you need to have the right size liquid wax pool around your wick as your candle burns.
If the wick diameter is too small, the wax pool will be too small to get a good scent throw. Conversely, if the wick diameter is too large, the flame will be too hot and the fragrant oils will burn off too soon, weakening your scent throw.
So, What’s the Correct Wick Size?
Candle Science has this amazing wick guide that calculates the size of wick you will need depending on the wax you use and the side of your container. I have this chart permanently bookmarked on my laptop, tablet, and phone. There is simply no better wick chart out there.
Step Five: Cure Your Candle Properly
You will never achieve optimal scent throw unless you properly cure your candle before burning it. Curing a candle is simple. All you need to do is let your candles sit for a period in a warm and dry place before you burn them. This allows you fragrant oils to be evenly absorbed by your candle wax, which will also help you make a stronger smelling candle.
Here is a chart I made with the minimum curing time for each of our three candle wax types.
|Wax Type||Curing Time, Days|
Soy wax is particularly known for being sensitive to curing time. In fact, the longer you cure a soy wax-based candle, the stronger your scent throw will be. Curing candles for the proper minimum period will also help them burn more smoothly.
Step Six: Conduct a Burn Test
If you have read any of my other articles, you know what I am going to say next. The final and most important step in any candle endeavor is to conduct a burn test.
Burn tests are particularly important when making scented candles because there are so many variables (listed in the first five steps above) that affect a candle’s scent throw. Burn tests allow you to not only make sure your candle burns safely, but that it also delivers the scent throw you expect. If it doesn’t, you need to make alterations to your recipe and try again.
Here are the steps to properly conduct a burn test:
- Choose a flat surface in a room that is 60-85 degrees Fahrenheit (20-30 degrees Celsius).
- Trim the wick to 1/8” before you light it. If the wick is too long, it will negatively affect your burn test.
- Burn the candle for four hours. No more, no less. Make sure the container doesn’t get hotter than 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius) in the four-hour test burn. If it does, you need to re-design your candle, because it could be a fire risk
- Make sure the wick only has one flame. If more than one flame burns on your wick, that means your candle probably needs a thicker wick.
- Let the candle cool completely and once again trim the wick to 1/8”. Continue to burn in four-hour cycles until the candle reaches its end of life.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the strongest fragrant oils I can add to my candle?
Some fragrant oils are advertised to be stronger than others. If used correctly, these oils can make your candles have a stronger scent throw. NorthStar Country Candle has a line of “ultra-strong fragrant oils” you can use for stronger-scented candles.
Can I use essential oils instead of fragrant oils in my candles?
Yes, but while these achieve other great effects, essential oils are not as good as fragrant oils when it comes to achieving scent throw. I don’t usually use essential oils, so check out this article for tips on how to use them.
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Please note that the contents of this blog are for informational and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any action taken based on the information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Additionally, all images used in this blog are generated under the CC0 license of Creative Commons, which means they are free to use for any purpose without attribution.
Meet Shawn Chun: Entrepreneur and Candle Business Fan.
I’m a happy individual who happens to be an entrepreneur. I have owned several types of businesses in my life from a coffee shop to an import and export business to an online review business plus a few more and now I create online candle business resources for those interested in starting new ventures. It’s demanding work but I love it. I do it for those passionate about their business and their goals. That’s why when I meet a candle business owner at a craft fair, farmers market, retail location or anywhere else I see myself. I know how hard the struggle is to obtain and retain clients, finding good employees all while trying to stay competitive. That’s why I created Candle Business Boss: I want to help candle business owners like you build a thriving business that brings you endless joy and supports your ideal lifestyle.