Fragrance oil in candles is the biggest cost of candle making. Also, adding too much or too little can make the difference between a good and a bad candle. Learn to make candles without expensive mistakes. I call this candle math.
The amount of fragrance oil added to candle wax or fragrance oil load is based on the type of wax.
- A softer wax like GB 464 soy can hold about an 8-10% load.
- A parasoy (70/30 mix of paraffin with soy) blend can hold about a 6-8% load, sometimes more.
- A harder wax like paraffin can hold about a 4-6% load.
- And a gel wax holds about a 4-6% load.
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How to Determine the Ideal Amount of Fragrance Oil in Candles
At our esteemed homestead, we understand the importance of creating candles that not only provide a warm and inviting atmosphere but also emit a captivating fragrance. Achieving the perfect balance of fragrance in candles is a delicate art that requires careful consideration. In this comprehensive guide, we will unveil the secrets to determining the ideal amount of fragrance oil in candles, ensuring that your creations are both visually appealing and olfactorily delightful.
Understanding Fragrance Oil:
Before delving into the intricacies of determining the optimal fragrance oil content, let’s take a moment to understand the nature of fragrance oils themselves. Fragrance oils are specially formulated mixtures that are designed to emanate pleasant scents when heated or burned. These oils are meticulously crafted, often combining various aromatic compounds to create unique and enticing fragrances.
Factors Affecting Fragrance Oil Amounts:
The ideal amount of fragrance oil to use in candles is influenced by several crucial factors. Understanding and considering these factors will enable you to strike the perfect balance and create candles that exude enchanting aromas throughout their burn time. Here are the key factors to consider:
1. Wax Type:
Different types of wax possess varying absorption capacities, which directly impact the amount of fragrance oil required. For instance, soy wax tends to hold fragrance oils more effectively compared to paraffin wax. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the characteristics of the wax you’re working with to determine the appropriate fragrance oil concentration.
2. Fragrance Oil Concentration:
The concentration of fragrance oil in candle making is typically expressed as a percentage of the total wax weight. Manufacturers often recommend specific percentages, which serve as a helpful starting point. However, it’s crucial to experiment and adjust the concentration based on personal preference and the specific scent’s intensity.
3. Desired Fragrance Strength:
The desired strength of the candle’s fragrance is subjective and can vary based on individual preferences and the intended purpose of the candle. Some people prefer a subtle and delicate scent, while others prefer a more potent and long-lasting aroma. Determining the ideal fragrance strength will guide you in finding the perfect amount of fragrance oil to use.
4. Candle Size and Shape:
The size and shape of the candle play a vital role in fragrance dispersion. Larger candles generally require a higher amount of fragrance oil to ensure the scent adequately permeates the surrounding space. Additionally, certain candle shapes, such as pillar candles, may necessitate a higher fragrance oil content due to their larger surface area.
5. Environmental Factors:
External environmental factors, such as ventilation, humidity, and the location where the candle will be used, can impact the perception and longevity of the fragrance. A well-ventilated room may require a slightly higher fragrance oil concentration to compensate for the increased airflow.
Determining the Ideal Fragrance Oil Amount:
To achieve optimal results when determining the ideal fragrance oil amount, we recommend the following step-by-step approach:
- Begin with Manufacturer Recommendations: Review the fragrance oil manufacturer’s guidelines and recommendations for the specific oil you are using. These suggestions will provide a starting point and ensure you are on the right track.
- Start with a Conservative Percentage: As a general guideline, begin with a fragrance oil concentration of approximately 6-8% of the total wax weight. This percentage serves as a safe baseline, especially if you are unsure about the desired fragrance strength.
- Test and Evaluate: Pour a small test batch of candles using the initial fragrance oil concentration. Allow the candles to cure for the recommended duration, typically 24-48 hours, to allow the fragrance to fully develop. Burn the test candles in various settings and observe the scent’s strength, throw, and longevity.
- Adjust Concentration: Based on your evaluation, adjust the fragrance oil concentration accordingly. If the scent is too weak or barely noticeable, gradually increase the percentage by increments of 1-2%. Conversely, if the fragrance is overpowering or overwhelming, reduce the concentration by the same increments.
- Repeat and Refine: Continue the testing process, making incremental adjustments to the fragrance oil concentration until you achieve the desired fragrance strength and longevity. Document the percentage variations and the corresponding results for future reference.
By employing this systematic approach and fine-tuning the fragrance oil concentration, you will be able to create candles that captivate the senses and stand out among competitors.
Crafting exquisite candles with the perfect fragrance oil amount requires a thoughtful and meticulous approach. By considering the wax type, desired fragrance strength, candle size and shape, and external factors, you can confidently determine the ideal fragrance oil concentration.
Remember to rely on manufacturer recommendations as a starting point and conduct thorough testing and evaluation to refine the concentration to perfection. With these insights and a touch of creativity, your candles will shine brightly, captivating customers with their enchanting aromas and elevating their overall experience.
How do you calculate fragrance oil in candles?
Candle-making recipes are based on weight. You need a scale to weigh the wax and the fragrance oil. Calculating how much liquid wax fits into your containers and how much fragrance oil is for each candle is tricky. Make it a good practice to keep notes and write everything down. Create recipes for your candles.
- The denser a fragrance oil the less the wax will hold.
- The harder the wax the less the wax will hold.
- The stronger the scent the less fragrance oil you need.
- The cost of fragrance oil ranges from $15 to $30 per pound.
I spend about $21 per pound and use that average to determine the cost of my candles. Some popular fragrances cost more so I use the least amount to still get a good-smelling candle. Just because the wax will hold more does not mean you want to add more.
Adding too little fragrance oil to candles makes a wimpy-smelling candle.
Adding too much fragrance oil to candles makes a bad candle that doesn’t burn.
Soy wax or container wax is the most popular. The range for this soft wax is greater because of the versatility in load and the wide variety of fragrance oils available. There are hundreds of scents and suppliers to choose from. I buy locally to help offset the cost by avoiding shipping charges.
Fragrance Oil Calculator for Candles
[weight of the wax] x [load value assigned]
Example: (My) 8-ounce Jelly Jar Candles used per candle. The total wax weight for each is about 7.5 ounces
Average: 6-ounce candle using GB 464 candle wax = 6 x 10% (.10) = .6 ounces
Strong Scent like “Rose”: 6-ounce candle using GB 464 candle wax = 6 x 8% (.08) = .48 ounces or .5 ounce
How much fragrance oil do you add to wax melts?
Wax melts are made with a focus on the cold throw from the fragrance. Typically, the wax is only heated until the melting point and the amount of fragrance oil needed is the minimum on the chart above. The wax will hold more but the aroma will not travel through the room without more heat. However, if the scent is soft or weak using more can be helpful.
How much fragrance oil do you add for a cold pour method?
Some candle makers use a cold pour method which usually requires heating the candle wax to no more than 150 degrees. Temperature does play a role in the amount of fragrance load candle wax holds.
The fragrance needs to bond with the wax when the molecules have expanded. This is more chemistry than I want to learn but in the short version, adding the fragrance at a cooler temperature takes longer.
Cold-poured candles should cure longer, up to 2 weeks or more, allowing the wax to fully absorb the fragrance oil. If you observe the candle seeping oil, let it sit for a few days before you give up. I have had candles do this only to discover later that sitting and curing resolved the issue.
What happens if I do not add enough fragrance oil to candles?
Sometimes this happens. A candle can smell great and then while burning it does not fill the room. Do not expect a candle aroma to travel and fill a large room. Some fragrances are better than others. Testing can help you with this. Adding more does not mean better.
What happens if I add too much fragrance oil to candles?
A soft candle wax such as GB 464 is very forgiving in its fragrance load. Sometimes a very dense or thick fragrance does not want to blend well and ends up seeping. I let it sit and cure to see if it will absorb the extra oil.
If not, I do not sell them. Oil sitting on top can ignite causing the flame to shoot up. This could be a potential fire hazard.
A candle with too much fragrance oil in candles smothers the wick. The fragrance oil will not evaporate fast enough to keep the wick burning and the candle will go out or have a little flame.
Sometimes when adding more fragrance oil to get a better hot throw, it also requires a bigger wick.
Candles can be melted (reworked) to add more fragrance or more wax and be fixed. Testing and practice help reduce waste from flops. Most of these candles I call my “oops” and use for myself.
What is the flashpoint for fragrance oils?
The fragrance oil flashpoint is the temperature at which the fragrance oil changes from liquid to vapor.
Flashpoints are primarily used for shipping safety. However, the vapor from the wax pool at the top of the candle is what you smell in the room when the candle is lit.
Not everyone agrees but I will give you my experience anyway. If you are having trouble getting a good hot throw, take the flashpoint into consideration.
The higher the flashpoint the longer it takes to get the aroma going. Adding more will not change that. It’s important to get a good wax pool to release that vapor.
This is true with wax melts. The heat source for the wax melt is either under the warmer or electric as opposed to a flame.
Some fragrance oils, no matter how much you add, do not work well with wax warmers if the flashpoint is high. It just does not get hot enough to produce the vapor.
Adding fragrance oil to the wax at temperatures at the flashpoint or lower can also affect the performance of your candles. Adding a scent with a low flashpoint can result in some evaporation of the fragrance oil before you have poured your candle! A batch that you have added an ounce to can lose 10 percent of that just because it produced vapor from the beginning.
How much fragrance oil in candles do I add when blending scents?
This requires testing first. I dip a cotton ball tip in the fragrance oil I want to test and put it in a resealable bag to sit overnight. Not all fragrances are meant to be mixed. I mixed something together once and it smelled like vomit! Yuck! If they do not work together you will know when you open the bag.
Most of my fragrance blends are a base of 50% for the dominant scent and 25 % + 25% additional for mixing 3 together. Test mixing two together at 60 % for one and 40% for the other and then 70% for one and 30% for the other.
You can do this by adding very small amounts to a sauce container with a lid. Make sure you weigh each fragrance and mark it on the container.
Keep a recipe book for your fragrance oil combinations. Surprisingly if you read the fragrance oil descriptions, you will notice that some are complex scents.
Because fragrance oils are different in flashpoint and density, I start by adding the minimum shown in the chart above. You can mix a light fragrance with a dense fragrance it just takes testing. I have also mixed different manufacturers’ fragrance oils and never had issues.
Whatever blend you create becomes the fragrance base for the formula above. Do not, as an example, mix 10% of 3 different fragrances into your candle wax to get a scent. Mix first and then add 10 % to the wax.
What is the difference between manufacture grade and premium fragrance oil?
Most fragrance oil for candles is a manufactures’ grade. A premium grade is sometimes listed as well and is often used for cosmetics. Make sure what you use is specifically meant for candle making.
Avoid essential oils as some are not designed to be burned and candles take more to get a hot throw. Do not use diffuser oil or perfume, etc.
Blending and Creating Unique Fragrance Oil in Candles
Blending and creating unique candle fragrance oil in candles defines your brand more than anything you will do. This is the foundation of your marketing strategy. Fragrances can be renamed but are easily spotted with an experienced nose.
A beginner candlemaker creates candles with stock ingredients. An advanced candlemaker develops its product line to include fragrances that cannot be purchased anywhere else.
There is a reason that people go crazy when Bath and Body Works has its candle sale. On the first Saturday in December, their candles go on sale, and it has become known as Candle Day! Why? They have created quality candles with fragrances that are exclusive to their brand. Even a candle maker such as myself buys them!
Can the essential oil be blended with fragrance oil in candles?
Essential oils can be blended with fragrance oils. Most essential oils are not diluted or mixed with the carrier oil and are much stronger. I prefer to mix fragrance oils with fragrance oils and typically do not use essential oils in candles.
All fragrances have top notes, middle notes, and base notes. This is true in candles. Pairing fragrances can be a fun and complex art. Starting with families of scents is best. I would not start mixing florals with something sweet. However, some combinations have been known to work.
Start by keeping a notebook of fragrances and taking notes about them.
You will need a jar and some cotton ball tips or blotter strips. You can also use a simple small eyedropper. The goal is to place a measurable drop of fragrance into the jar, put the lid on, let it sit for a while, and then open it to see if the mingled fragrances smell good with each other.
Controlling the ratio can be done by adding additional portions for a fragrance.
For example, if you want to make French vanilla coffee, the coffee fragrance is very strong. Dip a cotton ball tip into the coffee fragrance and place it into the jar. To help balance the vanilla, which is not as strong, dip 2 cotton tips into the French vanilla fragrance oil and place it into the jar. Let this sit for about 20 minutes and open the lid to smell.
If the vanilla is overpowered, add another vanilla-dipped cotton ball tip. Let sit for another 20 minutes. If this smells good, then the ratio is 1 part coffee fragrance and 3 parts French vanilla fragrance. Add a pumpkin spice fragrance and now you have a pumpkin spice latte.
Once you have selected a potential fragrance you will need to test it with a candle. To save on supplies I make a 4 or 8-ounce candle.
Using multiple fragrances makes the fragrance load calculation a little more complex. For this, I keep my fragrance load to around 10%.
I take 100 and divide it by the number of drops or cotton ball tips I have in my jar.
For example, say we have 1 coffee, 3 vanilla, and 1 pumpkin spice. The formula is 100 divided by 5 which equals 20. I take that number, which is my percentage, and multiply it by the number of cotton ball tips. So for this, I would have 20% coffee, 60% vanilla, and 20% pumpkin spice.
Example of Candle Wax and Fragrance Oil Calculation
Calculating how much mixture of wax and fragrance oil we need for our 8-ounce candle. The jar holds 7 fluid ounces.
7 x .9 = 6.3 ( We will need wax/fragrance oil mix weighing 6.3 ounces)
6.3 divided by 1.10 = 5.72 (We will need 5.72 ounces of wax by weight)
6.3 – 5.72 = .57 (We will need .57 ounces of fragrance oil by weight)
.57 x .2 = .114 (We will need .114 ounces coffee fragrance oil by weight)
.57 x .6 = .342 (We will need .342 ounces vanilla fragrance oil by weight)
.57 x .2 = 114 (We will need .114 ounces of pumpkin spice fragrance oil by weight)
You would make the candle as you normally would adding the fragrance oil at the lowest flashpoint temperature. The wick you use would be the normal wick you would use for that diameter of the jar. You need to let this candle cure as you are testing for the scent, not the wick.
If you like the hot throw, you can do more testing. Sometimes the fragrance will need to be adjusted once it is made into a candle.
You will find that some fragrances that seemed strong at first may not turn out that way in the end.
The more complex the original fragrance is, the more different the result may be. This is because of the fragrance notes.
Our example used simple fragrances, but a designer fragrance like a flannel mixed with vanilla could end up smelling like dirty laundry in the end. Who knows? I hope not.
Fragrances are grouped in families like floral or woodsy. They could be described as oriental or fruity. There is a variety of these as well. Rose can be a very strong floral and cherry blossom has a powdery floral fragrance.
Getting familiar with these will help you pick what will work together. Do not be afraid to try something. If you are using the cotton ball tip method you are not using much fragrance.
Some fragrances that do not seem to go together may work. A fragrance such as vanilla can soften an otherwise harsh scent. Lavender is mixed with many fragrances including baby powder. Candle Science has a fragrance finder that helps with this.
Many fragrance suppliers sell popular scents and have recipes to help you create a few. Use caution to not use any trademarked names and you can create an endless array of scents.