We make candles or buy candles because we want the fragrance to smell strong enough to fill the room and connect with a feeling associated with that scent. We want that trigger to be part of our current reality and that is hard to do if the candle does not deliver.
Getting the candle fragrance to smell stronger can be accomplished by learning a few things. Using quality ingredients during the candle making process plays a major role, but the science of broadcasting a good hot throw is determined by a few factors.
First, the candle diameter has to match the room size.
Second, the amount of fragrance load for the candle wax type has to be optimized.
Third, the wick has to match the diameter of the container.
And last, the process requires adding the fragrance at the correct temperature during the candle making process.
What size candle should I use for my room?
Sadly, boutiques are fewer and have been replaced by isles of shelving with little customer support. Lucky for us this allows us to set ourselves apart from the big chains. Owning a candle store, in your case maybe you are selling at a craft show, talking with potential customers can help them get the best experience. A satisfied customer comes back.
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Not everyone knows that larger diameter candles are by design meant to fill larger rooms. It is that simple. I ask my customers what room they are shopping for. I ask specifically what size their room is.
A small votive candle may be suited for a bathroom but would be lost in a living room. The extremes seem obvious. A jelly jar candle that has a diameter of about 2.5 inches does well in a 12 x 12 area. That same candle in a bathroom could be overwhelming and a customer may think your candle is just too much.
My living room is about a 12 x 24 area and you have to walk fully into the room before you start to smell a jelly jar candle. A room this big would need a 3-wick candle about 4 to 5 inches in diameter or more. A great room with a high ceiling may need a 4-wick candle 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Do you see the pattern?
The reason is that the release of the fragrance comes from the wax pool. The larger the pool the broader the release. If your candle does not fill the room it could be that it is just too small for that room.
How much fragrance do I add to my candle for a strong scent?
Not all wax is created equal. The harder the wax the less fragrance oil it can absorb. More is not always better. Starting with the harder waxes like beeswax and paraffin, they hold about 6% fragrance by weight or about 1 ounce per pound.
A blend of paraffin and soy wax (vegetable waxes) hold on average about 6-8% fragrance by weight and the softest waxes, 100% pure soy can hold 10-12% fragrance by weight. A harder wax is denser than a softer wax.
Fragrances also have densities. That is why they must be weighed with a scale and not measured by the cup. A very dense fragrance may not mix well or give you trouble in a harder wax. This is why we test everything.
More is not always better. Adding too much fragrance can create what is called sweating. This is where the wax does not absorb all of the fragrance and seeps. This could be a fire hazard.
Paraffin wax has a strong bond with fragrance and holds onto the oil longer resulting in a better hot throw. On the other end, GB 464 I have often added twice the fragrance (12%) as I would paraffin and get an incredible hot throw. I think this is a personal choice and has been debatable for years.
Testing the combination of a specific fragrance in wax will yield the best or optimized scent throw. A blend of waxes that has a recommended fragrance load of 6% may hold a lot more. If you do not test that limit, you will not know. Some people perform tests and quit too soon settling for the guide they were given.
A wax blend can also help soy wax retain the fragrance and produce a better hot throw. This would be a good example of why you would want to blend waxes. Creating a custom blend like 90% soy and 10% paraffin could work well.
Changing that to an 80% to 20% ratio could reduce the issues you may have with soy wax frosting and cratering and boost the scent throw.
Adding 1% coconut wax or apricot wax I have heard also helps to stabilize pure soy waxes. I have not personally tried this yet. It is worth testing. Special blends of waxes and fragrances can set your business apart from the crowd and bring your candles to the next level. This type of candle is a luxury candle line.
Alternatively, adding stearic acid to soy wax at a rate of 3-6 teaspoons per pound chemically bonds the fragrance and wax similar to the paraffin increasing the wax’s ability to “hold” onto the fragrance. Adding too much and the fragrance will not release. Vybar can do the same. These additives make the wax harder and can be used for other reasons.
If you are adding it to help your pillar candles release from the molds easier and having issues with the scent, this could be your culprit. The downside is at this point, it is no longer a natural candle.
While we are talking about additives, as a side note, adding too much colorant can also interfere with the performance of the candle.
How do I match the wick to my container?
Picking the right wick can also make the difference between a candle that smells stronger. I cannot stress enough about testing. We need to look for a balanced flame. The wick is our fuel delivery system and like a car, if it burns rich, you will burn your fragrance off faster than the wick can keep up.
The wick’s job is to feed the flame enough to keep the pool of wax on the top of the candle hot enough for the aroma to vaporize in the room.
The melt pool should be about half an inch deep and just reach the sides of your candle’s vessel. It is okay to have a slight edge of wax along the wall that will eventually melt as the vessel heats up.
The goal is to find the wick that heats the melt pool at that optimized temperature. This will allow your candle to burn as long as it can and have some control of the evaporation (burn) of the wax mixture.
When testing candles a wick the flame should be balanced. Soot is a sign of improper combustion. Soot can also be created by burning a candle in a draft. Check the area for other factors. Choose a container that has straight sides.
Stay away from containers with narrow openings and wider bases. Sometimes the vessel style interferes with the performance of the wick.
Wick placement in a candle is just as important as wick size. A three-wick candle is like having 3 candles working together to fill a larger room. The wicks should be spaced enough apart to function just like an overlapped single candle.
If they are too close together, you could easily have created a torch with your wicks. The wax closest to the wicks will not get too hot and the area around the outer edges will carry the burden of the hot throw.
Caring for the wick is also important. A candle should only be burned for about 3 hours one time and snuffed allowing the wax to harden back up. A wick should be trimmed after each use to about ¼”. Storing the candle with a lid will also help protect the top and slow natural evaporation.
What temperature do I add my fragrance when making candles?
During the candle making process, all wax types are heated up in preparation to form a bond with fragrance oil and then cooled to a suitable temperature to pour into a candle. Most soy wax is brought to a temperature of 185 degrees. Some add the fragrance then and then pour. I have never found success doing it that way.
First, let me say that it is possible to overheat the wax. If you scorch wax it will separate and no matter what you do it will never turn out. Never heat wax over 185. It is also flammable and can catch fire. Use caution, I am just saying!
Wax is not the only thing that can scorch. We have talked about flashpoints. This is the temperature that the fragrance oil combusts. Adding a fragrance oil close to that temperature is scorching it.
I try to add fragrance at 5 to 10 degrees lower than the flashpoint listed. Adding a fragrance oil with a flashpoint of 145 to wax that is 185 degrees is a fireball in the making or at the very least, the vapors given off will take your breath away.
Do not do it. And, you just spent your fragrance load. What is left in the wax will not be enough.
I almost always add my fragrance oils at around 145 degrees, stir for a few minutes and then pour. I believe this is also called the Alex method. If adding at this low temperature creates a temperature too low to pour, put your pouring pitcher back in the water bath for a few minutes to bring the heat of the mixture back up.
Alternately, on colder days. I have microwaved my fragrance oil in a measuring cup for about 20 – 30 seconds to take the chill off. This way the difference in temperatures between the wax and fragrance is not so drastic. If I am making several scents that day, I have kept my fragrances on a heating pad (under a tray) to keep them warm.
The goal is to keep the integrity of the fragrance for the candle until you burn the candle.