From elegant spas to friends’ homes and virtually every grocery store, scented candles are ubiquitous. You’ll find them everywhere once you start looking, but what are they really? Knowing what’s inside a product before you use it around your home is essential for your health. Moreover, if you have small children or pets, it’s even more vital to find out how things are made. No one wants toxic dangers lying around for their loved ones to get into accidentally. Fortunately, candles, in general, are relatively simple, and the scents only come from a couple of different sources. I’ll walk you through what they are made from, and how to find the safest and smartest options for your space. You’ll have a beautiful smelling home in no time, and you’ll know exactly what it is that makes those lovely scents that lift your mood and make everything so cozy.
What are scented candles? Scented candles are a flammable light source created from wax, gel, or soy with either plants, essential oils or fragrance oils added for the smell. A wick burns, causing your dense wax, soy, or gel to melt and evaporate as it works as a fuel over time. By adding a pleasant scent, you upgrade your light source with a bonus feature.
Types of Scented Candles
Candlemaking is an ancient art, and it hasn’t changed much over the years, and making scented candles is a part of that history as far back as we know. Although today we add smells for pleasure and aromatherapy, the original scents probably had more to do with tallow. This unpleasant-smelling waxy substance comes from animal fat, and mostly we no longer make candles from it today. Sadly, that wasn’t always the case.
The earliest candles were made of beeswax and whale fat in Egypt and China, respectively. While beeswax has a very light and pleasant smell, whale fat isn’t the best. Especially once it’s gone off, animal fat has a rank odor. By adding ancient perfumes like ambergris and oils, the smell would have been more bearable.
Modern candles don’t use animal fat, so we have little need to cover up the smell of the candles themselves. Yet humans are deeply connected to their sense of smell, and as a result, we seek out pleasant odors. Thus scented candles are still in use today.
Candles today are most often made from one of four substances. Paraffin wax, beeswax, gel, and soy are what you’ll find in stores. Each of these types is unique. However, the overall results are very similar because they all melt and burn down, slowly providing fuel for the fire on the wick.
- Beeswax- If you’ve ever looked at a rolled beeswax candle and wondered how they get that unusual hex-pattern, then you are overthinking things. The wax used in today’s candles is precisely the same as the original source used by the Egyptians three thousand years ago. Quite literally, beeswax candles are made from wax made by bees to hold their honey and young inside a beehive.
- Paraffin- According to Brittanica, “Paraffin wax is obtained from petroleum by dewaxing light lubricating oil stocks.” In short, it is a petroleum byproduct. Naturally, like most petrol products, it burns exceptionally well under the right circumstances. Though it didn’t become available commercially until eighteen fifty, paraffin has been a hugely popular candle making substance ever since it hit the market.
- Gel- The somewhat mysterious ‘gel’ candle is a modern style that gained popularity in recent years despite an increased fire risk. Gel candles are made from a rubbery feeling compound that is ninety-five percent mineral oil and five percent polymer resin. Typically they burn almost twice as long as paraffin, which is why gel candles are so popular.
- Soy- Soy candles come from the same fundamental source as all soy products. The humble edamame bean is used for milk, on its own as a food, the famed sauces, and, of course, soy candles. The candles are a processed form of soy oil, pressed from the soy plant. With a few additives, these clean-burning, renewable resource candles have become incredibly popular recently, with good reason.
Bonus- Some candles also use a blend of coconut oil, but it is rarely used alone. Coconut is semi-liquid at room temperature. Hence it needs to be mixed with another wax to stay solid.
The Cinderose Boy Smells Prunus Candle from Amazon is a superb example of all-natural beeswax and coconut oil. These gender-neutral scents burn for over fifty hours while avoiding the stereotypical female-floral and male-musk combinations that don’t suit every room. Learn more about this thoughtful company by clicking here.
What Makes Scented Candles Smell
There are three things you can put into a candle to give it scent. First, you can add fruit, flowers, bark, or other scented components whole. Secondly, an essential oil pressed directly from those plants is suitable for aromatherapy. Third and finally, a synthetic fragrance oil can offer scent variations not found in nature. However, they are without allergenic qualities or aromatherapy benefits.
Spices & Plants
Although you don’t see this combination as often, some modern candle companies use the original plants to add scent. You’ll most frequently see this with cinnamon sticks, cloves, orange slices, and dried flowers. The downside to using dried plants in their whole form is that they can be flammable. Resultantly, I don’t recommend these types of scented candles.
Essential oil scented candles have the advantage of potential aromatherapy. Different scents have various benefits. For example, lavender can help reduce anxiety while rosemary boosts memory and focus.
Although you can get these scents from a synthetic source, they lack the original ingredient. Thus synthetic oils don’t typically have any value in aromatherapy. However, synthetic oils also without the allergens found in plants.
It is fragrance oils that are arguably the most significant advance in scented candle technology in all of human history. Made from synthetic compounds and occasional extracts from essential oils, fragrance oils are often the most vivid scents around. Because the natural palette of plants does not limit them, perfumers who create these scents use special machinery to determine the exact chemical combinations that make a complete scent.
By re-combining those components in a lab, any aroma is possible. From clean laundry to fudge brownies, synthetics are versatile. Moreover, they lack allergy-producing ingredients.
A Bath & Body Works Limited Edition Maple Cinnamon Pancakes candle from Amazon is a delicious example of what candles can become with fragrance oils. With three wicks and a burn time that can exceed forty hours, this tasty candle can satisfy your breakfast-scented cravings and make your home smell like a holiday breakfast. Get yours by clicking here before the limited edition sells out.
Choosing the Right Scented Candles
Finding the right scented candles is easier once you understand what they are. There are a few things o keep in mind before you simply order the first scented candles that sound good to you. Most importantly, always get high-quality candles from a well known or well-reviewed company. You want transparency on the labels, so you know what’s inside your candle.
Additionally, you should always take into consideration who will come in contact with the candle. For example, a soy wax candle with lemon essential oil is less likely to be a problem for kids and pets, even if they lick it than a fragrance oil and paraffin or gel wax candle. Although you should always keep candles away from your little ones and furry friends, accidents do happen.
Make sure you choose the candles that suit you and your home. The atmosphere of your rooms and season of the year can both affect which scents are best for you. However, you should always opt for a favorite scent over an unknown, even if you love eggnog, and it’s springtime.
Lastly, the components of your candles are essential. If you’re ecologically conscious, avoiding petroleum products is a wise choice. Similarly, if you have lots of plant allergies, you may want a synthetic odor. However, those who desire aromatherapy benefits need essential oil candles.
I recommend the Way Out West Aromatherapy Scented Candles Gift Set for aromatherapy lovers. With your choice of two different delightful scents in each pack, you can get the best of both worlds. Choose pure lavender and eucalyptus, spearmint, and rosemary to calm down or wake up. See all the incredible, essential oil, soy wax candle options by clicking here.
If you have allergies to natural essential oils, then fragrance oil scented candles might be a better option. However, for those who are seeking the aromatherapeutic effects, nothing except an essential oil candle will do. Whichever works best for you, all scented candles bring warm glowing light and an uplifting aroma to your home.
For thousands of years, scented candles have adorned throne rooms and private homes alike. You can bring a slice of history and elegance to your home easily. Make sure you choose an aroma that makes you smile and suits the room you’re upgrading.
Whatever your style and preference for scented candles, one thing is sure, they all smell amazing. Creat ambiance in your home or elevate your mood with these ancient yet modern home decor accessories.