Everything You Need to Know About Scented Candles

There's a lot of thought and work that go into a scented candle.

scented candles
PHOTO BY PIXABAY / ZICHRINI, UNSPLASH / FI BELL ILLUSTRATION Warren Espejo

(SPOT.ph) Once you enter your scented-candle phase—which is pretty much inevitable when you're in a neverending quarantine—it's hard to get over it. They're gorgeous and they make any space, no matter how small or how cluttered, smell luxurious. Plus, they come in a variety of scents that each have their own benefits, whether it's to pump you up for a long day ahead or relax and unwind after a full day of work—it's aromatherapy in #aesthetic little vessels that make you want to keep collecting. Once you're deep into your scented candle phase, though, you'll find that there are lots of things to consider: from the wax type, to the wicks, down to how clean they burn—and these are things that you might have considered before making another purchase.

If you've reached that stage in which you want to learn more about scented candles and not just aesthetic-wise, then you're in the right place. Consider this your handy guide to scented candles.

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Here's everything you need to know about scented candles:

Types of Candle Waxes

Paraffin, soy, and beeswax are three of the most common waxes used for scented candles. 

scented candles
Tealight candles are usually made from paraffin wax.
PHOTO BY Unsplash/Liset Verhaar
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Paraffin wax is the most common of the trio because of its availability and affordability. Those candles you see in department stores? They're most likely made from paraffin wax. While not exactly the safest wax to use for scented candles (they're obtained from making gasoline and may emit harmful chemicals like toluene and benzene—both carcinogens), this type of wax can hold more fragrance. So if you prefer candles that can really bathe the room in your favorite scent, you can consider candles made from paraffin wax—but we recommend using a candlewarmer instead of an open flame.

scented candles
Soy candles offer a cleaner burn with significantly less soot compared to paraffin candles.  
PHOTO BY Unsplash / Fi Bell
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On the other hand, soy wax is also a well-loved option for scented candles for those who are looking for a safer alternative to paraffin wax candles. Soy wax candles have a higher melting point, which means they burn 40% to 50% slower and longer compared to candles that make use of paraffin wax. Plus, soy-based candles also offer a cleaner burn with significantly less soot, perfect if you love the satisfaction a clean burn gives.

scented candles
Beeswax candles are the priciest but they also take the longest to burn which pretty much offsets their hefty price tag.
PHOTO BY Pixabay / Zichrini

Finally, beeswax candles are among the pricier types of wax, but they have the longest burn time, giving you the most bang for your buck which pretty much offsets their hefty price tag. There are a lot of claims online that say it is the only type of candle wax that can purify the air, but no formal studies have been made about this.

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A lot of candlemakers prefer to formulate their own blend of candle wax in order to combine all the benefits of each type of wax into one candle to make it more cost-effective.

Essential Oils vs. Fragrance Oils

scented candles
PHOTO BY Unsplash / Kelly Sikkema

Yup, there's a difference! Scented candles make use of fragrance oils, essentials oils, or a blend of both. Essential oils are typically used in scented candles that claim to be all-natural since the fragrance from these essential oils are extracted from nature, like flowers, herbs, berries, et cetera. Fragrance oils, on the other hand, are synthetic scents that can achieve a certain mood or vibe by making use of a mixture of chemicals—which may contain just a teeny bit essential oil to achieve. A rich blend of essential oils and fragrance oils, however, offers a powerful scent throw and makes it possible to enjoy a wider range of scents.

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Scents and Their Benefits

Now that you know how candles achieve their scents, let's talk about some of the most common scents and their therapeutic effects for the mind and body. Scented candles is aromatherapy in a jar, after all.

Lavender is a popular scent that's known for its soothing effect that can lull anyone to sleep.

Eucalyptus is a minty scent that's a go-to for people who have nasal congestion or simply those who love a refreshing aroma.

Citrusy scents like orange and lemon are uplifting fragrances that can help you feel energized and concentrated—perfect for your work-from-home days when you need to hustle.

Vanilla is a sweet fragrance that's easy to get addicted to if you love all things sweet, but its sweet aroma actually as an impact on the nerves which helps calm you down and relieve stress.

Jasmine is a relaxing scent, much like lavender, making it a great option for people who just want to unwind after a long day.

Sandalwood is commonly used in scented candles thanks to its deep, woodsy fragrance with hints of sweetness and floral. Plus, it's known to improve alertness and help you relax.

Peppermint doesn't only remind you of the most wonderful time of the year, it can actually alleviate muscle pain thanks to its cool, menthol scent.

Types of Wicks

As a casual candle collector, you might not think about the wick your candle comes with too much, but it can actually make all the difference in your candle-burning experience. The choice of wick can affect how clean a candle burns, how much soot it will produce, and how the flame will flare out, among others.

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scented candles
PHOTO BY Unsplash / Fi Bell

The usual braided cotton wicks come in different diameters—the thicker ones make a larger flame and burns the candle quicker and helps it pool, which makes it a great option if you absolutely hate when your candle tunnels (read: burns unevenly, leaving you with unmelted wax around your candle's vessel).

scented candles
PHOTO BY JAMIE SANCHEZ FOR @PRETTYWOODENWICKS
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If you're big on aesthetic, you might prefer candles that make use of wooden wicks. Apart from making candles look more IG-worthy, wooden wicks create a relaxing crackling sound that levels up the ambience whenever you light a candle. Because they're flat, they cover a wider surface, usually resulting in a bigger flame which is perfect for candles that come in larger containers—it helps the wax melt cleanly and evenly, so your candle stays pretty-looking no matter how many times you light it up.

scented candles
ILLUSTRATION Warren Espejo

If you've done a lot of hunting for biggers candles, you might have noticed that the larger scented candles or candles that come in wider vessels usually make use of two or more wicks—this is for the purpose of a cleaner burn and a stronger scent throw. They're ideally used in bigger spaces like living rooms and dining rooms...or as a pretty home accent, because why not?

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Who knew so much thought and work goes into crafting a scented candle? As for us candle-obsessed, we know we'll always be on the hunt for the perfect scented candle...and it doesn't matter if we have to burn through dozens of candle jars to find it—at least, that's what we like to tell ourselves to justify the growing number of candles we have in our collection. 

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