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Astonishing Reasons Why Your Candles Are Losing Scent

Dawn Mayo

candle on wood table Everything Dawn Bakery Candles

Maybe you don’t spend $200 in candles from a big manufactured candle chain such as Yankee or Bath & Body Works like I used to. Maybe you spend half of that or even a quarter. The fact is that if you’re spending your hard earned money on candles that you can’t seem to get long lasting scent from, it's a complete waste.

I'm talking about those candles you buy and way through the candle, the scent is like a balloon that’s hissed all the air out. Scent slowly vanishes from the candle and you’re left with half a jar of useless wax just sitting there.

You’re wondering what's going on with that, right?

Why is it that you can’t seem to get those popular mass branded candles to maintain their scent throughout the entire burn?

Some people believe that when it happens to them, it’s just that one candle or batch.

Then they go buy another one.

Same thing.

They stop buying the candles and move to the wax melts and get that nice scent, but...

Still no long lasting scent.

How do you explain why you can’t get these candles to pump out the same vigorous scent that they did when you first smelled them?

Many candle companies imply that something as small as keeping your candle covered

Yes, that’s right.

It’s your fault when you pay a candle company $30 for their product and you can’t smell it after you’ve burned it halfway through.

Why?

According to Yankee Candle, if you cover the candle with a lid when you’re not using it, it allows less scent to evaporate from the candle, thus keeping the scent in for a longer burn time.

Don’t believe me? 

It's a very common thought that keeping a lid on a candle will prevent it from losing scent. In an article from Love To Know, you can see that keeping a lid on is the very first suggestion offered in saving the scent of Yankee Candles.

 

10 Signs You Have A High Quality Candle Checklist by Everything Dawn Bakery Candles

 

Unfortunately, some people actually believe that it is their fault when their candles lose scent, so they slap that lid on just before the wax in the jar completely solidifies (they want to make sure that scent doesn’t have any chance of getting out of that jar).

But that doesn't fly with others of you. You're the folks that can't be tricked, so you ask,

“Then why is it when I put a lid on my candle and go to burn it a month later, I still can’t smell that same strength?”

Fact is, many folks still find that using a lid isn’t quite as helpful as they’d like. They still end up with weak scent midway through their candle.

“But I could smell the candle so well in the store! Why is it that when I come home and burn it, it’s not the same?”

I’ll get to that.

But First, A Personal Story.

I was once a huge YC fan. So one day, around midday, I walk into one of their mall stores (the aroma of the scents caught me on my way to Macy’s and drew me in).  Once I was in, it was like I could imagine what my house would smell like, and I was seriously loving it!

Anyway,

I picked out a few scents and headed toward the counter to make my purchase when I noticed the candle they were burning on the front counter. It was Macintosh Apple. It was only almost a quarter of the way burned.

I loved that candle. In fact, it was one of my favorites from their ‘always in stock’ collection. I bought it that day.

Another day, I walked into a completely different Yankee Candle location. It was a larger mall store.

This time, when I made my purchase, I noticed the jar that was burned. It, also, looked like a pretty newly burned candle. I thought nothing of it.

By the third time I visited one of their stores (the first store I went to), I noticed a third candle that looked like it had been burning for a few hours, nowhere near the half mark. I started to think about that.

The fourth time I visited a store, I made it a point to look at the candle burning up front. And what did I find?

Once again, a candle that was burning about a quarter of the way through.

Here’s what I noticed:

  1. In a span of about five months, all of the Yankee Candles that I saw burned in the store were nowhere near the half mark.
  2. Each time I bought a candle, I got terrific scent as far down as halfway through the candle, then it fizzled away to nothing.
  3. When I covered the candle during the time I wasn’t burning it, the candle maintained its scent throw, but only up to around the middle of the candle.

What Does This Mean?

Let’s look at this for a minute.

Now, I’m not claiming that this is the case in all of YC stores, but my experience in three completely different stores over a period of 5 months showed me that Yankee isn’t burning candles beyond the half point.

Why would this be?

Scientifically speaking, the top notes of fragrance are the most volatile or the most “explosive” into the air. So, you get a whiff of these notes first because they’re the strongest.

Then...

The top notes evaporate into the air and you start to get the middle notes of the candle’s fragrance. These last a bit longer and fade into the bottom or base notes, which hold it down (so to speak).

Yes, I said base notes HOLD IT DOWN. Base notes are steady and add depth to the fragrance, leaving you with long lasting aroma in the air.

But these notes are not all in the top of the candle. You’ll get these notes the longer the candle burns.

UNLESS

You use more top notes in the fragrance of your candle to create a scent that appears to be strong for a short period of time (or until the top note evaporates).

Hmmm. Could that say something?

If the top notes are the strongest notes that come at you when you first burn a candle. It’s not going to be long before that volatile scent evaporates into the air and you get the middle notes.

So how, then, could it be possible for a candle, that you can smell for hours, to lose its scent after 30 minutes?

Here’s how.

According to fragrance chemistry, you can expect the top notes of fragrance to start to dissipate within about 30 minutes into burning a scented candle.

BUT

While the top notes are making their statement, the middle and base notes are also blending in with them so that you get a whiff of all three simultaneously. Only the top notes are the most prevalent.

So this is why a candle’s scent would still be pretty strong even after that 30 minutes. Then the middle notes take over as the top starts to fade.

So you may, now, wonder, “If I can smell the candle for about 4 or 5 hours, and you’re saying I get all three notes at the same time, how is the scent fading?”

Gotcha.

Here’s another thing about top notes.

Top notes are the cheapest fragrances used in a candle because they’re composed of compounds that are made of small molecules that quickly evaporate.

If your scent is fading halfway through your candle, a couple of things could be happening:

  1. Your candle is composed of more top notes and middle notes and is missing the necessary bottom notes to help it stick (known as linear scents),
  2. Your candle was poorly made with fragrances that did not properly bind to the wax

In The First Case…

You’ll get those wonderful top notes that quickly become middle notes and give you about a good 5 or so hours of strong scent.

However…

If a base note doesn’t exist, there’s nothing with depth to hold the scent so that it will linger once the others have faded.

In the Second Case…

Candle fragrances need to be added at the proper temperature so that they can bind, properly, to the wax.

THEN

They also, have to be mixed while at that temperature to ensure even distribution of fragrance to wax.

You might already see that if your candle is made with fragrance oils that did not bind to the wax properly, the wax will not have scent throughout the candle.

LIKEWISE

If the mixer ain’t properly mixing the fragrances in the hot wax so that all of the wax is binding to it, then you’re going to end up with wax that’s not scented throughout the entire candle.

Got me?

Tweet: Scented Candles lose their scent for 2 main reasons. See what they are here: https://ctt.ec/y5fb7+

"Scented Candles lose their scent for 2 main reasons. See what they are here"

 

Huge manufacturing processes can run into this issue. 

So, does fragrance oil actually evaporate from uncovered candles?

Yes, but at a really slow process, depending on various factors. So the likelihood of your candle losing scent in a month, just because it’s not covered, is pretty slim.

To Sum It All Up...

Candles lose their scent for two main reasons:

They’re cheaply made

OR

They’re poorly made

While $30 for a 22-ounce candle really is a cheap price for a candle, if you think you should be getting more for your money, you’ll likely want to go with an option that’s a little more ‘high end,’ or even a handmade option that gives you a better made candle.

If you found this post informative, get our free 10 Signs You Have a High Quality Candle Checklist. It'll help you when you're doing some shopping around for candles.

Please also share this post with friends using the links below. It helps us to let others know how they, too, can keep the scent alive. 

 Keep it sweet!

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2 comments

  • Hello! I work at a Yankee Candle store and we burn the candles all day, every day. We definitely burn the candle way low past halfway and until there is no more wax left- it was probably just a coincidence or you must’ve went to the stores a few days apart where the candle had enough time to be completely used and then replaced. We have to damage out the candles to burn them as displays, so we want to use the whole thing for what it’s worth!

    lucy

  • This is an interesting article. Thanks for posting it. I have made scented candles and wax melts for many years.

    There are certainly a lot of badly made candles out there. This happens for 2 reasons.

    1. Everyone and their dog thinks they can easily start a candle business. They buy a few materials after minimal research (unlikely to be the most efficient materials either) and make some candles with what they have, with no experience in candle making whatsoever. No hard lessons. No true passion! Then they do not test the candles, mostly because they cannot afford to as they have entered the industry with $£$£ in their eyes rather than with a passion for candle making. Testing will just hinder their profit.

    2. The other reason is the opposite. Candle makers get complacent and expect that each batch of materials they buy to make their candles are of equal quality to the last that they ordered. This is especially not the case when buying natural ingredients which of course change based on multiple factors. So they do not test them anymore. The quality of materials decline and then so does their crafted product.

    But all of that aside, the actual main reason that candles stop smelling after a few hours is basically down to how the human sense of smell works. If you put on perfume or aftershave before going out to a party, within 20 minutes you will no longer be able to smell your perfume, but everyone else will.. “ooo you smell nice!”. This is because our noses become used to the scent and given that it is our brains which actually translates the smell, our brain turns off and loses sensitivity to that specific smell which ultimately is created by chemical compounds in the air (even if natural). The only way to enjoy the smell some more is to refresh your sense of smell or to add more… and more.. and more to make it stronger. But that is not a good idea as eventually the fumes would become toxic and likely be harmful to your health in some way. Especially is this flawed technique is used perpetually.

    You can compare this phenomena to going to a concert or to a club with loud music. When you leave, everything sounds muffled and you have talk loud just to hear yourself talk. This is because of hearing fatigue which starts with the high frequencies (the treble). The only way to be able to hear these frequencies again is to give your ears a rest for a few hours. This phenomenon is not physical, but psychological and is a hindrance to people who work in this field, especially audio mastering engineers.

    Here in the UK, I pour hundreds of candles and wax melts each month. I can no longer smell the scents as much as I used to unless I spend some time out in the fresh air. Mainly because I am around them all day. I have measures in place to protect my respiratory health. I have some customers who complain saying my products don’t smell strong enough. But I know they do as I have so much amazing feedback. I also use high quality materials sourced from years of research and repeat bad experiences. I use as high of a scent load as the wax allows for and I then test, test and then test again. After investigation, it soon becomes obvious that the people who complain are simply using too many scented products, too often and should quite simply have a break and burn these types of products less often. They will spend less money, enjoy the products more, and the candle makers will no longer have to listen to them moan whilst refusing to accept that they are the reason the candles no longer smell as strong, not the honest candle producers.

    Helen
    www.picknmelt.com

    Helen

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