How much is too much?
Understanding the Effect of Fragrance Load on Candles
In as much as you would like to use your fragrance oil (FO) with a particular wax, different waxes absorb the oils in different measures. For instance, single pour wax containers accommodate up to 1.5 ounces of FO for one pound of wax, while pillar and votive waxes can only absorb a recommended amount of 1 ounce per pound. It is also recommended that you only use 1 ounce of FO for a pound of soy wax when making soy candles. Exceeding the recommended fragrance load only leads to waste, as the wax won’t blend well with the oil. You could even end up losing the middle and top notes of your FO.
While candle making is a relatively easy activity, obtaining the desired scent throw can be challenging. Paraffin waxes have a better scent throw than their soy counterparts, which prove to be more selective on the oils that work well with them. If you are going to use soy wax, you can improve its scent throw by combining it with vegetable waxes and food-grade paraffin wax. Additionally, you can use a pre-blended soy wax that is made to accommodate fragrances and colors. Also, allow your candles enough time to cure before lighting. Paraffin waxes require a minimum of 24 hours at a moderate room temperature, while soy wax needs an extra day or two to cure.
Fragrances oils may slightly change the color of the wax, so be sure to only use the recommended fragrance load. The color change is primarily the result of oxidation, a process that makes fragrances darker in color. Most synthetic oils have a shelf life of one year and oxidation effects become evident after about six months. Since you cannot reverse the oxidation process, be safe by using oils that have not stayed long on the shelves. If you are making colored candles, first add the oil before adding the dye.
Fragrance oils may not give you the expected results if you do not use them properly. Be sure to follow the provided instructions regarding the fragrance load and directions for mixing with the wax. For instance, you will not get a good scent throw in your candles if you add fragrance at too high temperatures. On the other hand, exceeding the recommended fragrance load does not necessarily increase scent throw. Instead, this may clog the wick and result in improper burning characteristics.
An important safety precaution when using FOs is to check their flash point. This is the lowest temperature at which the oil can burn if exposed to a spark or an open flame. Avoid using fragrances at temperatures higher than their flash point, or else do not expose them to an ignition source. Adding fragrance oils at too high temperatures also causes them to burn off or dissipate. Use FOs with a flash point higher than 170 degrees when making gel candles.
Always measure the weight of your fragrance loads so as not to compromise the quality of your final products. A quarter of an ounce added to 100 grams of wax is equivalent to a 5 percent concentration, while a half ounce added to 100 grams represents a 10 percent concentration. In most cases, you will be using a concentration of 7 or 8 percent. Working with fragrance oils is an art that you can perfect by trial and error, as long as you adhere to these guidelines.