The perfect candle is both art and science. So many factors affect whether a candle is exceptional or not – in particular whether it has a strong ‘hot throw’ (what it smells like across the room when burning) as well as an appealing ‘cold throw’ (what it smells like cold!).
The blend of fragrance oils, the type of wax used, the ratio of oils to wax, the size and material of the wick, the container and the candle making process itself all determine the quality of your chosen candle. We’ll cover some of these considerations in future blog posts to help you sniff out the good from the bad.
So how do you work out which candle is best for your needs?
The single most important decision you need to make is what smells good to you of course!
What is fragrance?
Smells evoke emotions.
Conjuring up happy memories.
Telling us if something is edible or rotten.
Telling us something is right (say, a flower in bloom) or needs fixing (erm…a baby’s full nappy anyone?).
Our noses are a sophisticated organ designed to communicate important messages to our brains. Scientists have shown that smell and memories are closely linked by the brain’s anatomy. So finding the right fragrance for our homes is an equally sophisticated endeavour. The very best candle makers and perfumers understand the complex interaction between different fragrance notes and how they stimulate these emotions.
Every fragrance is made of a top note, middle (or heart) note and base note.
Top note: this is the most ephemeral part of the fragrance but will give the fragrance its most instant impact. It evaporates quickly though, leaving the middle note and base notes behind as the more long lasting fragrance. Examples of top note oils include bergamot, lavender, lemon, orange, grapefruit, rose and chamomile
Middle note: the middle note lasts longer than the top note, but not quite as long as the base note. The middle note and base note combine to provide a deeper more long lasting impact. Middle notes often deliver a pleasant, well rounded, often floral or spicy scent. Examples of middle note oils include rose, lavender, jasmine, ylang ylang, nutmeg, cinnamon
Base note: the fragrance base is the most long lasting part of the fragrance, and will carry the body of the fragrance - the more ‘base note’ that comes through, the muskier and heavier the scent. Examples of base note oils include musk, ylang ylang, cedarwood, sandalwood, vetiver and patchouli
You will typically decide instantly whether you like a candle based on the top notes from its cold throw, but it is the combination of all the fragrance notes together which will keep you coming back to your preferred candle time after time.
What fragrance is best for me?
The right fragrance for your needs will depend on what time of year it is, where you want to use the fragrance and your personal preferences amongst other considerations.
Floral and citrusy fragrances may be more suitable in the summer, whilst woody, spicy and muskier fragrances may feel more appropriate in the autumn and winter.
A rich, deep fragrance may work better in a cosy study, whereas a light, airy room may warrant a crisper, gentler fragrance.
A calming, soothing combination would work well in a bedroom.
The options are endless, as there are so many different combinations to choose from.
So get sniffing and see where that olfactory system takes you!!