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Article: Fragrance Oils vs. Essential Oils in Candles

Fragrance Oils vs. Essential Oils in Candles

If you love scented candles, then you've probably seen the terms "fragrance oils" and "essential oils" being used somewhat interchangeably to describe various fragrances and blends. 

This might cause some confusion for candle afficionados trying to understand what a candle smells like and how those beautiful scents are made. So today, we'll explain what the differences are between fragrance oils and essential oils in candles.

The Difference Between Fragrance Oils And Essential Oils

The main difference between fragrance oils and essential oils is that fragrance oils are manufactured in a laboratory, whereas essential oils are extracted directly from plants and other natural sources. 

Essential oils were first distilled by the Arabs in their golden age. Over time, the use of essential oils became popular in a wide range of fields, including medicine, aromatherapy, cooking, as well as the fragrance industry. 

Fragrance oils, on the other hand, were specifically designed to be used in candles, perfumes, soaps, and other scented products. They were engineered to create a nice, long-lasting "scent throw". 

Most DIY candle makers like to use fragrance oils when concocting scented candles, since they're more user-friendly. 

Essential oils are more challenging because they're more volatile, meaning they have a lower boiling point and evaporate more quickly when exposed to heat. Typically, candles with essential oils don't retain their scent as long as candles with fragrance oils.

Pros and Cons Of Essential Oils 

Getting the fragrance just right in an essential oil-based scented candle can be tricky.

In addition to the volatility of essential oils we mentioned above, the quality of the essential oil may vary depending on factors outside of your control, such as how well the plants the essential oil came from were raised, stored, and transported. 

Using only high quality essential oils yields the best results. However, quality essential oils tend to be quite pricey, especially considering how much one goes through when mixing and testing new candle fragrances.

But despite the fact that using essential oils in candles is pricier and more complicated, some makers prefer this option because the ingredients are all natural and may yield certain health benefits. 

If you're in the market for essential oil-based candles, try these strong and long-lasting scents: 

  • Peppermint: Peppermint oil is used to reduce stress with its sharp, fresh aroma.  
  • Bergamot: This bright citrus scent is known to relieve anxiety due to the chemical components limonene and dopamine.
  • Eucalyptus: Historically, eucalyptus was used by Aboriginal tribes in Australia for wound healing, decongestion, and pain relief. This scent is woody and camphoraceous.  
  • Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a nostalgic aroma for many individuals due to its strong ties with winter holidays. The spicy and sweet scent is delightfully relaxing to inhale after a long, cold day.  
  • Orange: Orange is a warm, citrus scent that is used to reduce stress and anxiety. Some studies show that it can even be used to reduce depression

Pros and Cons of Fragrance Oils 

Fragrance oils, instead of being extracted directly, are made in a lab. They contain a type of chemical called Diethyl Phthalate (DEP), which is used as a solvent that elevates the fragrance and makes it last longer. 

There are two types of fragrance oils: natural and synthetic.

  • Natural fragrance oils: These oils are made in a lab by taking naturally-derived aromatic raw materials, then isolating or combining them. They can be made up of essential oils, parts of essential oils, or multiple essential oils. 
  • Synthetic fragrance oils: These oils use artificial chemicals to recreate scents that can't be naturally derived or don't exist in nature. For example, you can't get essential oils from fruits naturally (with the exception of citrus), so most fruity notes are made with synthetic fragrance oils. Other scents, such as amber, vanilla, and chocolate, are also made from synthetic fragrance oils.  
Identifying when a fragrance oil is being used can be a bit confusing. One helpful trick is to look for blended scent titles. The ingredient list often sounds more complex in a fragrance oil-based candle than an essential oil-based candle. For example:

  • French Vanilla
  • Birthday Cake
  • Ocean Breeze
  • Apple Butter Caramel
  • Caffe Mocha 


Regardless of whether you prefer essential oils or fragrance oils in your scented candles, keep in mind that the quality of the oil used matters a lot. If you're making your own candles, you'll get better results if you buy your oil from a reputable supplier as opposed to from a craft store with cheap, mass-produced oils. And the same goes for buying candles! 

If this article was helpful to you, please take a moment to check out our assortment of luxury candles inspired by the icons of the Harlem Renaissance.