Saturday, 24 July 2010

Candle Fragrance - Making Sense of the Scents


When I first started making candles, and I wanted to add fragrance to make them more appealing, I just bought an initial stock of simple, popular scents - including everyone's favourite: lavender.  Then I progressed to pre-mixed fragrances - I think I dipped into "sun dried linen" and "lemon chiffon pie" !!

But there are so many candles on the market today, I wanted to do something either a little different, or create my own USP (unique selling point).  For example, sun dried linen is a very lovely fragrance, and very popular too - both with makers and buyers - but it is (a) pre-mixed, (b) artificial, and (c) everywhere!  Now, I'm not knocking it, it really does smell like the real thing (you know, getting into bed at night as a child when Mum has just changed the sheets...) - but I wanted to "do my own thing".

So I perused the different scents available, and decided that I would go for real pure essential oils (you can't extract essence of lemon chiffon pie, but rose oil is totally natural) in natures own fragrances, a mix of flowers, fruits, herbs and plants - and create my own blends.


Sadly, as I found out, you can't just take two scents that you happen to like, bung them together in equal measures, and happen to produce a pleasing aroma...  there really is a bit more of a science to it than that.

I have developed my own way of second guessing which fragrances will complement each other, before I even begin to melt some wax and try them out.  It is by no means fool-proof, and I have stumbled across some really quite quirky combinations through pure chance (I was making two sets of wax chunks for my frosted chunk candle range this week - one was chamomile, the other was coconut - and the smell wafting out of my kitchen was absolutely SCRUMPTIOUS...!!), but in general it is a good "rule of thumb" guide.

Whenever I buy a new scent, I categorise it by the attributes of its smell; I ask myself, is it:

warm  or  cool
sweet  or  sharp
light  or  heavy
cosy  or  fresh

Fragrances that tend to have two common notes, tend to be the best ones that mix - they have a similar enough base to complement each other, but enough differences to show their own characters.  This is by no means definitive - but think about some of the scents that are currently in my stock cupboard...

Banana - warm, sweet, heavy, cosy     &     Bergamot - cool, sharp, light, fresh
Every attribute is different - so would you dream of putting them together? - no way!!
Grapefruit - warm, sweet, light, fresh     &     Rose - warm, sweet, heavy, cosy
They share two notes, not a natural choice perhaps - but does it work? - yes it does!!


So, now we have blended our candles - when and where should we burn them?

Different fragrances can have different effects on ambience, feelings, mood and perception.  Think of the supermarkets who duct the air from their bakery section to waft over you as you enter the store... a delicious smell that just can't help making you feel hungry - and what happens if you go food shopping when you're hungry - you buy more!

So, if you want to create romance try warm, heavy or cosy scents; if you want to clear the air and stay alert try cool, fresh or sharp fragrances; if you want to relax and chill out then try a mix of cosy, cool, light and sweet smells... Is it making sense now??

Of course I could go on and on - how to choose candles to change the "feeling" of a room, to combat it's negative elements (make it feel lighter and airier, when it is in fact dark and stuffy) - but hey, I think you have had enough by now, and have got the picture.

And for those of you who pick a candle just because you like the smell...? (Surely there's no science in that!) Well, you will find that certain personality traits are drawn to certain types of smell - and of course, it depends what kind of mood you are in to begin with...

(...sorry! I promise to stop now!)

1 comment:

Josie-Mary said...

Blimey there's more to this candle thing then I thought!!! I love the Christmas scents & tend to buy candles only at that time of year. What does that say about me?
I once brought a Lily of the Valley which was beautiful but I've never seen another :(