It’s no secret that the best luxury candle brands are known for the quality of their candle burn. A luxury candle is evaluated based on its ability to give off its aroma, and how appealing the scent is. Because scent triggers emotions and feelings in each of us, customers seek luxury candles that offer a unique & memorable olfactive experience.
In 2020, the US scented candle market size was valued at $540 million. As a leading private label luxury candle manufacturer, Karl Winters shares insights about what a fragrance is and how a perfumer and fragrance manufacturer play important roles in creating luxury fragrance oils for candles.
Fragrances have always been part of our culture and history. For thousands of years, from the Egyptian civilization to the Persian, Greek and Roman Empires, scents were used in ceremonies and as an expression of status and well-being. Today, fragrances are used in home products such as soaps and cleaning agents that evoke feelings representative of a brand, season, and event.
Home fragrances are known to freshen up a home with the inviting aromas of a scented candle or reed diffuser. Burning a candle slowly releases the aromas embedded in the candle wax. This is because a candle manufacturer adds fragrance oils to melted wax which is then poured into a container and allowed to set. But what is a fragrance oil made of?
Headquartered in Switzerland, The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) is the global body that represents the fragrance industry. It seeks to promote the safe use of fragrances, ensuring that people can enjoy the art of perfumery with confidence. The IFRA defines a fragrance as a chemical mixture that has a smell or odor. It’s made up of synthetic aroma compounds and/or essential oils within a carrier liquid such as mineral oil.
These are over 2,000 different aromatic compounds – they are either man-made duplicates of natural compounds or synthetic compounds that are not found in nature.
There is a misconception that synthetic oils are bad for your health because they are man-made. This is not true – consider that most food flavors are synthetic (such as vanilla) and consumed by millions of people.
Essential oils are extracted from plants, herbs and flowers primarily through a technique called steam distillation. They are known for their distinctive aromas as well as their therapeutic effects in aromatherapy. For example, balsamic essential oils are described as refreshing, warm, and earthy aromas that is reminiscent of balsam fir trees in the forest. Inhaling the scent of balsamic essential oil is known to produce a peaceful and soothing effect.
Extracting the essential oils from a flower/herb can be a time consuming and expensive process. For example, extracting rose oil from freshly harvested roses – it takes approximately 10,000 pounds of rose petals to produce a pound of rose essential oil.
However, not everything in nature produces an essential oil – for example, watermelon and vanilla.
While the source of essential and fragrance oil is different, they both enjoy lovely, appealing aromas that can be used in the making of private label candles. Unlike essential oils such as lavender and balsam, fragrance oils do not offer any therapeutic or healing properties.
To get the desired olfactive effect, fragrance oils are generally made from a mixture of natural and synthetic ingredients. You should always inquire with a candle manufacturer what percentage of essentials oil they use in the production of a candle. Given the high cost of essential oils, this figure is usually very low.
Synthetic fragrance oils are generally divided into 2 categories:
Identical to naturally occurring compounds, these are manufactured in the laboratory. Because they have an identical chemical build-up as plant oils, their aromas are very similar as well. The advantage with nature-identical fragrance oils is they are more cost effective to manufacture. For example, rose essential oil costs between $300-$800 per ounce compared to the cost of rose fragrance oil at $3.50 per ounce.
Some of the biggest fragrance manufacturers are based in the US, Europe, and Asia, and include companies such as Givaudan, Firmenich and Mane. Their expertise in synthetic and natural fragrance oil production is supported by continual technological investments and innovative extraction techniques. The ability to trace raw materials to individual suppliers and countries is proof of responsible sourcing.
Selecting a reputable fragrance manufacturer that specializes in premium raw materials is an important step towards creating high quality candle fragrance oils. Their aromas are richer, sophisticated and generally more appealing to the senses.
The creation of a fragrance oil is a complex multi-layered process that is practiced by perfumers. Like artists, perfumers spend many years in fragrance training developing their sense of smell, learning how to recognize fragrance groups.
The Grasse Institute of Perfumery (GIP) is a prestigious fragrance school located in the birthplace of the world’s capital of perfume, Grasse, France. Students are enrolled in technical training courses such as fragrance composition and accords. During their development process, educators offer students guidance to help advance their careers in perfumery.
Top rated fragrance manufacturers such as Givaudan and Mane are usually sponsors to perfumery schools such as GIP. This provides an opportunity for junior perfumers to apply their knowledge and skills in a practical environment.
With a large variety of natural and synthetic fragrance ingredients, an experienced perfumer begins the creative process with a customer brief. This document specifies any brand objectives and goals in creating the new fragrance.
Because scents are invisible (like music), they have the power to influence people and alter perceptions. Its for this reason that scent creation is considered more of an art than a technical profession. An art because a certain level of sensitivity and imagination is necessary to evoke the desired feeling. For example, fresh florals such as jasmine and rose are designed to evoke feelings of femininity and sensuality. Technical knowledge is also required to understand the chemistry of aromatic compounds and how they interact with one another.
The process of blending mixtures and ingredients to capture the desired feeling can last several weeks, months and even years. A positive outlook with daily inspiration is a prerequisite for a perfumer to acheive their final goal!
After several rounds of trial and error, the result is a luxury fragrance oil that is unique and personal. It’s classified into one of the four groups within the fragrance wheel – Fresh, Floral, Oriental, and Woody.
Sometimes called a signature scent, a luxury fragrance oil is characterized by top, middle and base notes which blend to create a fragrant accord. It’s this harmony of scent notes that determines the scent’s exclusivity and appeal.
The fragrance oils behind the best-selling luxury candles were designed by master perfumers and are true works of art.
Upon receiving the fragrance oil, the luxury candle manufacturer initiates a testing phase to ensure an optimal candle burn. Each premium fragrance oil has unique properties and may require weeks of testing to find the right balance between fragrance oil, wax, wick and vessel diameter.
As mentioned in the candle care tips post, luxury private label candles are expected to burn slowly and evenly, with no evidence of candle tunneling. A candle’s aroma should fill a regular sized room within 1 hour of lighting. Failure to achieve these results can produce underperforming candles followed by a negative brand impression.
Ethical sourcing and renewable energy are increasingly becoming a customer priority, with many expecting brands to makes products more sustainable. In developing fragrance oils, it is recommended that a luxury candle manufacturer collaborate with a perfumer and fragrance manufacturer that is aligned with company values.
Taking steps towards responsible manufacturing is necessary to gain the trust and confidence of customers. Transparency is key – it starts with a luxury candle manufacturer finding the right balance between luxury, quality, and sustainability.