How Much Fragrance Oil Do You Add to Candles?
Fragrance oils are the biggest cost of making candles. Adding too much or too little can make the difference between a good and a bad candle. Learn to make candles without expensive mistakes. I call this candle math.
The amount of fragrance oil added to candle wax is based on the type of wax. A softer wax like GB 464 soy can hold about an 8-10% load. A parasoy (70/30 mix of paraffin with soy) blend can hold about a 5-7% load. A harder wax like paraffin can hold about a 4-6% load. And a gel wax holds about a 4-6% load. The load is the amount of fragrance that can chemically bond with the wax while at the maximum temperature without evaporation.
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How to calculate fragrance oil load
Candle making recipes are based on weight. You need a scale to weigh the wax and the fragrance oil. Calculating how much liquid wax fits into your containers and how much fragrance oil for each candle is tricky. Make it a good practice to keep notes and write everything down. Create recipes for your candles.
The denser a fragrance oil the less the wax will hold.
The harder the wax the less the wax will hold.
The stronger the scent the less fragrance oil you need.
The cost of fragrance oil ranges from $15 to $30 per pound.
I spend about $21 per pound and use that average to determine the cost of my candles. Some popular fragrances cost more so I use the least amount to still get a good smelling candle. Just because the wax will hold more does not mean you want to add more.
Adding too little fragrance oil makes a wimpy-smelling candle.
Adding too much fragrance oil makes a bad candle.
Soy wax or container wax is the most popular. The range for this soft wax is greater because of the versatility in load and the wide variety of fragrance oils available. There are hundreds of scents and suppliers to choose from. I buy locally to help offset the cost by avoiding shipping charges.
The formula for calculating fragrance oil in candles
[weight of the wax] x [load value assigned]
Example: (My) 8-ounce Jelly Jar Candles use per candle. The total wax weight for each is about 7.5 ounces
Average: 6-ounce candle using GB 464 candle wax = 6 x 10% (.10) = .6 ounces
Strong Scent like “Rose”: 6-ounce candle using GB 464 candle wax = 6 x 8% (.08) = .48 ounces or .5 ounce
How much fragrance oil do you add to wax melts?
Wax melts are made with a focus on the cold throw from the fragrance. Typically, the wax is only heated until the melting point and the amount of fragrance oil need is the minimum on the chart above. The wax will hold more but the aroma will not travel through the room without more heat. However, if the scent is soft or weak using more can be helpful.
How much fragrance oil do you add for a cold pour method?
Some candle makers use a cold pour method which usually requires heating the candle wax to no more than 150 degrees. Temperature does play a role in the amount of fragrance load candle wax holds. The fragrance needs to bond with the wax when the molecules have expanded. This is more chemistry than I want to learn but in the short version, adding the fragrance at a cooler temperature takes longer.
Cold poured candles should cure longer, up to 2 weeks or more, allowing the wax to fully absorb the fragrance oil. If you observe the candle seeping oil, let it sit for a few days before you give up. I have had candles do this only to discover later that sitting and curing resolved the issue.
What happens if I do not add enough fragrance oil to my candle?
Sometimes this happens. A candle can smell great and then while burning it does not fill the room. Do not expect a candle aroma to travel and fill a large room. Some fragrances are better than others. Testing can help you with this. Adding more does not mean better.
What happens if I add too much fragrance oil to a candle?
A soft candle wax as GB 464 is very forgiving in its fragrance load. Sometimes a very dense or thick fragrance does not want to blend well and ends up seeping. I let it sit and cure to see if it will absorb the extra oil.
If not, I do not sell them. Oil sitting on top can ignite causing the flame to shoot up. This could be a potential fire hazard.
A candle with too much fragrance oil smothers the wick. The fragrance oil will not evaporate fast enough to keep the wick burning and the candle will go out or have a little flame.
Sometimes when adding more fragrance oil to get a better hot throw, it also requires a bigger wick.
Candles can be melted (reworked) to add more fragrance or more wax and be fixed. Testing and practice help reduce waste from flops. Most of these candles I call my “oops” and use for myself.
What is the flashpoint for fragrance oils?
The fragrance oil flashpoint is the temperature at which the fragrance oil changes from liquid to vapor. The vapor from the wax pool at the top of the candle is what you smell in the room when the candle is lit. The higher the flashpoint the longer it takes to get the aroma going. Adding more will not change that. It’s important to get a good wax pool to release that vapor.
This is true with wax melts. The heat source for the wax melt is either under the warmer or electric as opposed to a flame.
Some fragrance oils, no matter how much you add, do not work well with wax warmers if the flashpoint is high. It just does not get hot enough to produce the vapor.
Adding fragrance oil to the wax at temperatures at the flashpoint or lower can also affect the performance of your candles. Adding a scent with a low flashpoint can results in some evaporation of the fragrance oil before you have poured your candle! A batch that you have added an ounce to can lose 10 percent of that just because it produced vapor from the beginning.
How much fragrance oil do I add when blending scents?
This requires testing first. I dip a cotton ball tip in the fragrance oil I want to test and put it in a resealable bag to sit overnight. Not all fragrances are meant to be mixed. I mixed something together once and it smelled like vomit! Yuck! If they do not work together you will know when you open the bag.
Most of my fragrance blends are a base of 50% for the dominant scent and 25 % + 25% additional for mixing 3 together. Test mixing two together at 60 % for one and 40% for the other and then 70% for one and 30% for the other. You can do this by adding very small amounts to a sauce container with a lid. Make sure you weigh each fragrance and mark it on the container.
Keep a recipe book for your fragrance oil combinations. Surprisingly if you read the fragrance oil descriptions, you will notice that some are complex scents.
Because fragrance oils are different in flashpoint and density, I start by adding the minimum shown in the chart above. You can mix a light fragrance with a dense fragrance it just takes testing. I have also mixed different manufactures’ fragrance oils and never had issues.
Whatever blend you create it becomes the fragrance base for the formula above. Do not, as an example, mix 10% of 3 different fragrances to your candle wax to get a scent. Mix first and then add 10 % to the wax.
What is the difference between manufacture grade and premium fragrance oil?
Most fragrance oil for candles is a manufactures’ grade. A premium grade is sometimes listed as well and is often used for cosmetics. Make sure what you use is specifically meant for candle making.
Avoid essential oils as some are not designed to be burned and candles take more to get a hot throw. Do not use diffuser oil or perfume, etc.