What are the Most Memorable Candle Smells?

When you breathe in a candle, what do you think of? If it’s a scent you really enjoy, what is the memory that comes to mind when you smell it? The ocean? A favorite relative’s perfume or cologne? Christmastime? All of these memories are linked to smell; and it’s no question that burning a candle with those scents can evoke certain memories. 

Table of Contents

The most memorable candle smells are:

What are the Most Memorable Candle Smells?
  1. Vanilla 
  2. Teakwood
  3. Cotton
  4. Apple
  5. Pumpkin
  6. Floral
  7. Citrus
  8. Coconut
  9. Peppermint
  10. Tobacco
  11. Freshly baked bread
  12. Bacon
  13. Grass
  14. Coffee
  15. Ocean
  16. Pine
  17. Burning Fire

So you can make a candle with any one of those memorable smells, but what makes a smell memorable? Why do we remember certain smells so prominently? Read on to find out more about the science of candle scents; and how you can create a memorable candle smell for your customers. 

Why do we remember smells?

Think back to a favorite memory, whether it was your childhood; or a family trip, or simply a person you want to remember. What do you remember most about that one singular thing? If you said the smell, that’s not surprising—studies have shown that memories are inextricably linked through the sense of smell. 

Scents are perceived through the brain; but because of where in the brain the perception is located. Scents travel through very easily to the limbic system—which are associated with emotion and memory. Not only are scents associated with memories, though—your sense of smell is imperative when enjoying your favorite meals. 

That’s not all—studies have shown that it’s completely possible that memories are actually stored within the part of your brain that perceives smells, and not just all smells—specifically those linked to the long-term memory. 

According to an article by Harvard University, the sense of smell is the only completely developed sense within the womb and continues to be the most developed until around age ten, when your sense of sight takes over. Because of that, smells from your childhood tend to be the most prominent in your mind. Considering that we have four types of light sensors in our eyes, four types of receptors for touch; and over a thousand types of smell receptors, it’s no wonder why smell is the most powerful of memory creators. 

Because of this, an odor or smell can immediately transport you to a specific memory. Even making you relive that particular memory or feel that emotion over again. 

But that doesn’t always mean it’s accurate to the memory. In 2010, the American Journal of Psychology published a journal that stated smells linked to memory were typically more emotional rather than accurate. 

What makes a smell memorable?

What are the Most Memorable Candle Smells?

Smells and memories may be inextricably linked, but what makes a smell linger not just around you, but in your mind? That comes down to something unique. Like that American Journal of Psychology journal stated, smells that are linked to memories tend to be more emotional, meaning it may not actually be the same smell you smelled during that memory—just what your brain thinks you should be smelling at the time. 

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What are the most memorable candle smells?

While this question is a hard one to answer. Due to the fact that so many people have, so many experiences throughout their lives. The most memorable candle smells can be linked to moments in childhood. 

Vanilla: Not only is it one of the most popular candle scents, but it is the base in many men’s and women’s perfumes and colognes.
Teakwood: Another smell associated with colognes, teakwood can evoke memories of a favorite family member or person. 
Cotton: Freshly cleaned linens can have a very evocative smell, especially coming from one’s childhood. 
Apple: Some of the best memories come out of autumn, picking apples in an apple farm. 
Pumpkin: Much like the apple scent, pumpkin can bring out memories year-round, including trips to the pumpkin patch. 
Floral: Any sort of floral scent can evoke a memory—specifically those used in perfumes. 
Citrus: A broad range of scents like floral, citrus smells can bring you back to those summer days when you’re off school or even a favorite family vacation. 
Coconut: A very distinctive smell, this scent is frequently used in baked goods and perfumes, making it a great memory trigger. 
Peppermint: During the holidays, you smell peppermint around every corner. This rings true when bringing out memories from childhood as well. 
Tobacco: While not a favorite of everyone, reminding you of a family member that may have smoked comes out through this candle scent. 
Freshly baked bread: Whether your family baked when you were a child or not, this is still one of the main scents that people catch that brings forth a memory trigger. 
Bacon: Another slightly different candle scent; bacon is a very distinctive smell that can bring forth memories of breakfasts in bed or family events. 
Grass: Another easy childhood trigger; grass can make people think of the time when they would play outside. 
Coffee: Regardless of whether you drink it or not, coffee is a very common smell that holds many triggers, whether it’s of someone from your childhood or a more recent memory of a person or event. 
Ocean: Family vacations or even vacations into adulthood can be triggered by the smell of the ocean. 
Pine: Like peppermint, pine is a great memory trigger for those who celebrate Christmas. It can also remind you of a trip to a national park or forest. 
Burning Fire: Whether a holiday tradition, a part of a vacation, or the memory of a bonfire, a fire scent is sure to please anyone with an outdoor focus. 
Leather: This scent can evoke memories of people or items, whether it be the scent of an elderly family member or the leather off an old couch. 
What are the Most Memorable Candle Smells?
Rain: Weather can be a great trigger for memories—the smell of summer rain can bring back memories of lazy days as a child. 
Books: A book smell can be extremely complex, but for those readers out there, it’s one of the best and most memorable scents around. Create a candle with this scent, and you’re sure to please the most erudite of customers. 

An important caveat to note is that many of the most memorable candle smells are actually some of the most popular, but are not limited to this list. You could have a very positive, visceral memory linked to the smell of gasoline, but it does not make a great candle scent. People have different memories linked to different smells, but making sure you have scents that appeal to as many people as possible is going to benefit you the most. Still with the most popular scents and market them in a way that evokes a certain memory, like renaming your cotton scent to Freshly Washed Linens. You will find a niche within your candle scents—and with that, you can sell your candles to the masses, bringing them in with the promise of smell fueled memories. 

Related Questions

What is the best type of wax to use for strongly scented candles?

When it comes to making a scented candle, paraffin wax, although a synthetic wax, is best for holding all types of scents, including those that you wish to be strong. Other natural waxes, like palm or soy waxes, can be an alternative to paraffin, but still do not hold scent as well as paraffin itself. When making scented candles, beeswax tends to be the least likely to hold scent, as it already has its own scent. 

How much fragrance should I use when I make candles?
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Because it depends on the type of wax you are using, you should consult the manufacturer of the wax before adding any sort of fragrance oil. That being said, the typical ratio is one fluid ounce of fragrance oil to one pound of wax. This can vary between both oils and the type of wax. 

What is the largest demographic for people buying candles?

In most cases, adults from the age of twenty to forty-four years old purchase candles on a regular basis. Most of those people are women, so shifting your marketing towards adult women means focusing on the usage of candles that fall into stress relief, gift giving, and aromatherapy.

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