Making scented candles is one of the first ways beginning candle makers start to expand their repertoire of techniques as they gain experience with the craft of candle making. While the basic process is very simple – add a fragrance to the melted wax – there are ways it can go wrong. I made some beginner’s mistakes when I started out. I hope this article will help you avoid them.
The first thing is to be sure the scent you want to use is compatible with the wax for your candle. You can’t use just any fragrance.
The first impulse for many people (it was mine) is to try to add a favorite perfume or aftershave to melted wax. That has a good chance of ruining the batch of wax. Water and alcohol based fragrance don’t combine well with wax. Trust me they, don’t.
The safest way to be sure the fragrance is compatible with wax is to buy fragrance specifically made for candle making. Candle supply shops have a seemingly endless assortment of scent. Plus, you can combine scents to make your own unique blends.
If you want to, you can usually use essential oils as well. Most essential oils will work well with paraffin wax.
Gel candles hold scent well, but not all oil scents will work with candle gel. Candle gel is not a true wax (it’s a polymerized mineral oil) so you can’t automatically assume that a scent that worked well with wax will work with gel.
You can test a scent’s compatibility with gel by mixing a drop of the essential oil you’d like to use with a drop or two of mineral oil. If they mix well and completely you can use the oil to scent your candle.
Again, the most reliable way to know a fragrance will be compatible is to buy scents made specifically for gel candles.
Another beginner’s mistake is to add too much scent. There’s a limit to how much oil or fragrance you can incorporate in a wax. Add too much and it affects the appearance and burning qualities of the candles. If you overdo it, the candle may have a spotty surface with wet appearing areas. It also may sputter a little when it burns.
The amount varies between 1% and 5% by weight depending on the type of wax. Most suppliers will list the appropriate amount of scent.
The last beginners mistake I want to mentions is heating the wax too long after you add the fragrance.
Candle fragrances are volatile oils. When you add them to a candle, they are encased in the hardened wax. When the heat of the candle melts the wax, the fragrance is released into the room (of course some fragrance is released even when the candle isn’t lit).
If you add the fragrance early in the wax melting process, the heat of melting the wax will vaporize the volatile fragrance oils and release them from the wax. That means your house will smell great when you make the candle but the finished candle won’t have very much scent.
The way to avoid this is to add the scent immediately before you pour the wax. That way the wax begins cooling and trapping the scent immediately.
Now you know three common mistakes people make when they start to add scent to their candles. Avoid these and you’re way ahead of the game.
Of course, other things can go wrong when you’re making scented candles. Discover more insider tips on making scented candles at: