Fragrance Oils vs. Essential Oils: Which Is Better for Candles?

We all love walking into our home and getting wrapped up in one of our favorite scents. Maybe it's the festive smell of cinnamon over the holidays or the clean scent of lemon. Whatever that smell is, you've probably used a scented candle to get it.

With many candles nowadays being "infused with essential oils," candle shopping has become complex. Realistically, these candles are often combination of essential oils and fragrance oils.

A lot of essential oils don't play well in candles. Essential oils have less of a scent throw than fragrance oil candles and they require a higher concentration. Citrus essential oils are especially volatile when combined with heat, producing a chemical smell. Fragrance oil produces a better scent throw with a lesser concentration, and most are paraben- and phthalate-free. 

Essential Oils in Candles

Essential oils are the essence of the plant the oil originated from. They are always 100% natural and are either pressed from the plant or distilled. The result is the essence of the plant itself and the scents that go along with it. Essential oils have proven benefits when used in aromatherapy.

An essential oil always comes from the essence of a plant, so you will see a plant name when purchasing. A fragrance oil can have a name such as “Golden Days,” which is more ambiguous.

Although essential oils are natural and have many benefits, they may not be as useful in candles. A candle would have to have a lot of essential oil in it to be potent. Many manufacturers don't use very much, if any at all, in their candles, yet still use the "made with essential oils" tagline as a marketing gimmick. 

Not all essential oils smell the same way when being burned either. You may get a candle thinking you're going to get an energetic orange scent and end up smelling something reminiscent of fuel. Essential oils also tend to have a very mild smell in candles, since only so much can be used before it disrupts the function of the candle.

Fragrance Oils in Candles

Fragrance oils are oils that have been manufactured to create a certain scent. They can be made of natural or synthetic compounds and are often a mix of the two. Fragrance oils can contain hundreds of different components in order to get a specific smell.

These oils allow for the creation of scents that you can't create with essential oils alone. For example, vanilla is a popular component of many candle fragrances, but there is no vanilla essential oil.

Fragrance oils can release a powerful scent when burned, and because fragrance oils are usually cheaper than essential oils, they are found more frequently in candles.

Since the fragrance oils used are often specifically designed for candles, they don't give off an unexpected scent. This may make them sound like the perfect choice, but they do have their drawbacks. Not all candles with fragrance oils are created equal.

Some fragrance oils contain ingredients that aren't healthy to inhale or may give you headaches due to how strong the scent is. When deciding whether a candle scented with fragrance oil is right for you, you need to look at the pros and cons of the different ways you can scent a candle and choose what is right for you.

Our coconut-soy wooden wick candles use phthalate and paraben-free fragrance oils that are safe and smell amazing.

Are Fragrance Oils Safe?

Fragrance oils can be made of hundreds of different compounds. Some of these compounds are safer than others. A perfumer trained in how different compounds come together works with different oils and chemical compounds to create their own specific fragrance oil blend. Because there are so many different possible blends, fragrance oils are governed by the International Fragrance Association.

The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) oversees these blends to make sure they are safe to use. They also oversee fragrance safety as it concerns the environment to make sure fragrances are safe for both people and the planet.

For the most part, fragrance oils are safe, but they sometimes come with additions that are not necessarily healthy, such as phthalates. Another thing to consider is that while many compounds are tested for tolerance, there's no telling how much you are getting of a certain compound in a day. If a small amount of a chemical is safe for your body, and the product uses that amount, what happens if you get another dose from a cosmetic or soap also using that same “safe” amount?

It's best to do your research and choose a high-quality candle that puts health first so you know that the candle you are burning won't cause any unexpected risks. Thankfully, all of our candles are made with phthalate and paraben-free fragrance oils.

So, Fragrance Oils or Essential Oils in My Candles?

If you enjoy creating your own scented candles or are hoping to purchase a candle that won't harm your home, you may be wondering what kind of candle is best for your home. Is it okay to pick just any old candle, or should you stick with candles that are all-natural?

Scented candles can be difficult to shop for. There are thousands of different candles and many of them are marketed as 100% natural; made with essential oils, or are natural fragrance blends. With so many choices, it can be difficult to know what is best for your home, and which one to pick.

Although essential oils are great for aromatherapy, they may not be the best choice in a candle. Essential oils work best by being diffused through a diffuser or by being misted from a spray bottle. You would need quite a lot of EO in a candle in order for it to be effective as aromatherapy if it's effective at all.

To further complicate things, essential oils can become toxic when heated. The last thing you need is to be inhaling toxic fumes while thinking you're just getting a pleasant scent!

Since essential oils are very expensive, many manufacturers who market their candles as containing essential oils don't use very much at all. The result is a candle that may make you feel good about lighting up but doesn't have any benefits apart from a pleasant scent.

Scented candles with fragrance oil can also be undesirable, but not due to deceptive marketing practices. Some scented candles contain phthalates. Phthalates are a chemical compound used to dissolve raw materials so they can be made into a fragrance oil. Phthalates have been associated with a number of health issues in humans.

Parabens are another common additive that you may not want to be inhaling. Parabens are an endocrine disrupter and may cause cancer. They're also extremely pervasive in our food, beverages, soaps, and cosmetics. Getting exposed to some parabens is almost unavoidable, but taking steps to cut your contact is sensible for safety reasons.

Luckily, consumers have been letting the fragrance industry know how they feel, and there are candles scented with fragrance oils that are safe to use. Before you purchase a candle, check the label carefully. If it is paraben and phthalate-free, then you're good to go.

Shop smart and you can enjoy the soft smell and light from a scented candle without endangering your health.

How to Use Scents in Your Own Candles

If you're making candles at home, you may be wondering which type of scent you should use in order to create the best candle. As you've probably guessed, you may struggle with creating an EO candle that produces an attractive scent.

If you're determined to make an essential oil candle, the general recommended amount is 1oz of essential oil per 1 pound of wax. Select an essential oil that has been labeled candle grade. Use caution when experimenting with these oils, and choose quality wax too. There is no point in creating a candle meant to improve your health only to burn petroleum products or use a lead-laced wick.

Beeswax, soy, or other natural wax sources are healthier choices for your candle, and your wick should be lead-free for maximum safety. When burning them, keep the wick trimmed short to avoid excess soot entering the air.

Sandalwood, patchouli, and other scents commonly burned in their natural form are all safer choices for creating candles with, since their safety while being burned has already been established. If you want to experiment with other scents, use caution and experiment in a well-ventilated environment.

Fragrance Oils Perform Better in Candles

Scented candles have their place in your home. They can add ambiance to your meals, make you feel more festive during holidays, and are just plain fun. 

Although essential oils aren't necessarily a good choice for your candles, you can always combine scents and candles by diffusing your favorite EO scent while burning a phthalate- and paraben-free candle made with fragrance oil. By getting a little creative, you can get the best of both worlds without any health risks.

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