Fragrance Oils 101

There are lots of ways to make your home smell nice: wall plug-ins, wax melters, diffusers, room spray, and of course candles. We prefer a candle for the ambient effects from the flame, but the one thing these products all have in common is FRAGRANCE OIL which makes them smell so good! Now, we know there’s a lot of ambiguity behind the term “fragrance oils” and transparency is one of our deepest values, so here it is: fragrance oil, explained.

What are fragrances made of?


While specific ingredients vary for different qualities and types of oils, there are some that are most common. The actual smell of the oils is derived from one of two different ingredients: essential oils, or synthetic aroma chemicals. 


Essential oils are the naturally derived, pure, concentrated liquid that comes straight from the leaves, or other organic materials in the plant. Using pure essential oils is the only way to make 100% naturally derived candles, but often they do not perform well when burned. The aroma is either very faint, or reacts in a way that makes it smell terrible, even like fuel. 


Synthetic aroma chemicals are man-made in industrial facilities. There are some misconceptions about this type of fragrance oil. Many people assume that because the oils are man-made, that they are inherently toxic or bad for your health. This is not true. In fact, many toxic substances come from nature, like hemlock which is natural but also toxic to humans. 


The fragrance oils we source for all of our products contain zero phthalates, are compliant with California Proposition 65, and contain essential oils whenever possible. We take this a step further using fragrance oils that are perfume grade, and skin safe, adding an extra level of safety. Now not all candle companies are created equal, as we know, so definitely do your homework to be sure the products you're buying meet these standards and won't make you sick. 

How do you make a candle smell more or less?


There are a few ways we can control the strength of the candle fragrance. Most of the work is done here in our studio in South Boston, during production. We know that an overpowering scent can be a headache, literally. We also know that scented candles have a purpose, to make your home smell good. Which is why we test our candles for fragrance retention, performance, and safety before ever introducing it to the public. 


We test the “cold throw”, which is how the candle smells the first time you open the lid, without being burned. We also test a “hot throw", which is how the candle smells as it burns and the wax melts. The fragrance load (what percentage of the candle is fragrance oil) is what determines the results of each throw. The strength and even the scent of the cold throw may be different from the hot throw. This is usually the case for essential oils, since the biggest enemy for an essential oil is heat. When we’re testing we make sure that the fragrance is prominent within a space, but not an overload to your sense of smell, and that it smells great both not and cold.  To learn more about how exactly that works, refer to our Candles 101 Blog post!


There are a couple things you can do to make your candle stay nice and fragrant at home too. Simply make sure your candle is covered, and place it in a room suitable for the size candle that you have. For example, our Gold Tins are perfect for a bathroom, a small bedroom, or an entryway, whereas our 16-Ounce Glass Jar Candle is your best option for an open floor plan, a large den, or a master bedroom. But really, we can fill up a vessel of almost any size through our Refill Program! Learn more about that here.

OK, so Why do i care?


By far, the most common question we get about our products is whether or not our candles are made from essential oils. Most people are asking because they want to make sure the candle or diffuser is safe for them and their family, and they think the only way to achieve that is by using pure essential oils. We are here to tell you to breathe easy and enjoy, because we care just as much as you do about keeping you safe.


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