All About Fragrance Oils

I’ve been getting questions more frequently about fragrance oils – how I choose them, how I create signature scents (mixing my own fragrances) and whether I use essential oils. If you’ve ever wondered about the fragrances that go into our candles, read my answers to some of the most frequently asked questions below!

Do you use essential oils in your candles?

I do not – I use fragrance oils instead. While I understand the appeal of using something 100% natural like an essential oil, they have little to no “hot throw” – which means it’s hard to smell them when they’re lit. They’re also very expensive, which means the cost to make a candle with them is higher, which would lead to a more expensive candle just to make up the cost of materials. I want my candles to burn as safely and cleanly as possible, but it’s also really important to me that you enjoy the scent!

Fragrance oils are synthetic fragrances, and can be purchased for use in candles, soaps, skincare products, etc. I tend to buy my fragrance oils from candle supply companies like Candle Science and Midwest Fragrance Company, who create fragrance oils that meet the standards set forth/required by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) and the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM).

When purchasing fragrance oils from these companies, I’m careful to choose scents that are phthalate-free. Phthalates – when used in fragrance oils – can make the scent much stronger. However, as science advances and we continually safety test the ingredients in all of the things we use in our homes, it’s becoming clear that phthalates can also be endocrine disruptors. That means that these chemicals can mimic or interfere with the body’s hormones, which we DON’T want.

Do you mix your own scents?

Most of my current scents are created by the fragrance oil companies. They have more experience mixing scent notes than I do! However, my first signature scent that I created by mixing fragrance oils is Coastal Cotton. I wanted to start slow with this process of signature scents, because it takes some testing – more testing than required for the off-the-shelf scents I can purchase from candle supply companies.

But I’m very interested in experimenting some more with creating my own scents in the future. When mixing the signature Coastal Cotton scent, I combined two fragrance oils and simply tested using different percentages of each until I was happy with the result. It’s not always a 50/50 split. With Coastal Cotton, I combined roughly 70% of one fragrance with 30% of the other.

How do you choose which scents to use/offer?

I try to use a diverse group of scents, so that almost anyone could find a scent that they like in my collection. The way I approached this was to try to find a scent I liked in each “category” – clean, musky, floral, earthy, citrusy, warm, cool, subtle, strong, etc. I also try to find scents that appeal to me! The nose knows what works best. In most cases, if I like it, you tend to like it. Some people have aversions to certain scents (and won’t go near a floral, or hate musky scents), but can usually find something they like if you offer a variety.

How do you know how much fragrance oil to use?

How much fragrance you use is actually more dependent on the wax you work with. The parasoy blend that I use has a maximum fragrance load of 10%, or 1.6 oz. of fragrance oil per pound of wax. Each candle maker gets to decide what percentage of fragrance oil they use with their wax, as long as it falls within the safety guidelines of that particular wax.

 With the wax that I work with, I could use up to 10% fragrance oil, but I can also choose to use 6%. That part of candle making is preference, and varies with each candle maker. Some people prefer strong scents, and others subtler. Testing fragrance oils with waxes helps us decide what fragrance load is most appropriate.


I often buy sample sizes to try out, because I don’t live near any of the candle supply companies. I have to have my supplies shipped! Trying small samples of fragrances allows me to test and try lots of different scent options, which allows me to offer you more of a variety.

Creating candles is a science! It’s so interesting and fun, and there are so many components to it. Choosing and testing fragrance oils is one of the most fun parts of the process for me!

Back to blog