As an artisan candle maker, I get asked all the time - what are the best fragrance oils for candles? The truth is, not all candle scents are created equal. Some simply don't smell good or perform well in wax.
Through extensive testing, these are my top picks for fragrance oils that both smell incredible and meet all the technical criteria for excellent cold and hot scent throw in candles.
How to Choose a Good Candle Scent
Let’s first go over what qualities make a fragrance oil ideal for candle making.
Intensity & Strength - You want pronounced scents that will still smell strong when diluted in wax. You want to find concentrated fragrance oils, these ones are potent and a little goes a long way, when I'm making a candle I want a strong hot throw, not some wishy washy faint smell!
Candle-Safe - Make sure the oil is formulated for candle making and marked safe for burning. Otherwise, scent throw can suffer.
Oil Solubility - The fragrance needs to fully dissolve into the wax for even distribution and fragrance release.
Scent Profile - Consider the fragrance category and notes. Candles should have an appealing scent when burning. I want to experience nostalgia, think gingerbread and your mum baking, a nice woody, musky scent perhaps reminds you of a perfume you once had or a loved one had. We want to evoke memories.
Mixability - Some scents combine well while others muddle. Stick to 1-2 note fragrances and avoid too many blends.
Using these criteria, these are my go-to fragrance oils for fantastic homemade candles.
Lets get into it and explore the wonderful world of fragrance oils and scent, I'll go through my favourite ones with a quick overview of what to expect. I'll be honest I've tried a lot of scents, you get excited waiting for a new scent to arrive, rush to make a tester candle only to be disappointed by the scent. It happens!
Warm & Welcoming Scents
Nothing makes a home cosier than smells of baked goods, hearth fires, and clean linens. These fragrance oils provide that welcoming warmth.
Pumpkin Pie Spice - This is the essence of autumn. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla perfectly capture a baking pumpkin pie.
Cedarwood + Sandalwood - A sophisticated masculine blend of rich, woody cedar and smooth sandalwood.
Fresh Baked Bread - Yeasty, toasty, and buttery, this fragrance oil smells just like bread fresh from the oven.
Sugar Cookies - This spot-on sugar cookie scent smells just like Christmas. Sweet vanilla, butter, and a hint of almond.
Clean Cotton - Crisp and refreshing like laundry drying on the line, this green floral fragrance feels invigorating.
Apple & Cinnamon - A classic for me for these reasons:
The scent of apples and cinnamon brings me back to childhood and memories of my mother's kitchen. I can picture her in her apron, humming as she peeled and sliced apples for her delicious homemade apple crumble. The cinnamon sugar she tossed the apples in before baking perfumed the whole house with its warm, spicy aroma.
Now when I close my eyes and inhale my homemade apple cinnamon candle, I am transported back in time. I recall cozy autumn days, my mother's embrace, the sound of her voice, and those sweet smells of apples sprinkled with cinnamon.
That's why finding the perfect fragrance oil is important to me as a candle maker. I was very selective in choosing an oil that smelled natural, like fresh apple slices dusted with ground cinnamon.
Fruity & Fresh Scents
Capture that just-picked freshness of ripe fruits and zesty citrus with these mouth-watering fragrance oils. They smell juicy and vibrant.
Strawberry - A sweet, juicy strawberry fragrance bursting with fruity ripeness. Smells just like berry picking!
Watermelon - Cool, aquatic and sweet, this fragrance is spot-on freshly sliced watermelon. Perfect for summer.
Satsuma Orange - Bright, zesty satsumas spiked with ginger and clove. Uplifting citrus perfection.
Bartlett Pear - Unripe green pears slowly ripening - this fragrance transitions from tart green to sweet.
Coconut Lime - Suntan lotion in a bottle! The beachy mix of creamy coconut and zingy lime refreshes.
Raspberry Lemonade - An effervescent mix of tangy raspberries, lemon zest, with sugary sweetness.
Relaxing & Soothing Scents
For serene spaces, choose these mellow herbal, floral, and earthy fragrance oils designed to soothe and calm.
Lavender - Relaxing floral-herbaceous true lavender soothes stress and eases insomnia.
Chamomile Tea - The mellow, daisy-like aroma of chamomile blossoms is perfect for winding down.
Eucalyptus - Cooling and fresh, this medicinal oil provides therapeutic respiratory benefits.
Frankincense + Myrrh - An ancient resinous blend that provokes reflection and serenity.
Lemongrass Sage - Clean, green, and herbaceous - feels like a breath of fresh air.
Rainwater - Pure and earthy like walking through the forest after a rain shower.
Sexy & Seductive Scents
Strike a romantic mood with these lush, mysterious oils perfect for date nights. The air will be filled with allure.
Midnight Pomegranate - Darkly romantic mix of pomegranate, raspberry, jasmine, and musk.
Moroccan Rose - Velvety rose petals, amber, and exotic woods - seductively heady.
Vanilla Orchid - Creamy Tahitian vanilla bean enlivened by orchid nectar. Sweetly intoxicating.
Nag Champa - Reminiscent of incense, this exotic floral has a slight spiciness.
Sandalwood + Jasmine - Smooth, creamy sandalwood made magical by night-blooming jasmine.
Ylang Ylang + Vetiver - An oriental floral grounded by grassy, earthy vetiver for harmony.
Nature Inspired Scents
For crisp outdoor ambiance, use these natural fragrance oils reminiscent of forests, beaches, and the garden.
Redwood Forest - Majestic pine, cedar, and earthy musk like wandering among ancient redwoods.
Lilac Blossoms - The unmatched fresh powderiness that only lilac flowers possess in spring.
Basil + Sage - A lively herb garden duo of sweet basil and woodsy garden sage.
Ocean Breeze - Cool, salty, breezy - like a blissful walk along ocean cliffs.
Rain Shower - The cleansing scent of minerals and ozone from an evening thunderstorm.
Firewood - Hardwood, cedar, oak, smoke - just like sitting around a campfire.
Testing Your Candle Scents
When researching new candle fragrance oils, order sample sizes and always test burn before making large batches. Observe how the scent interacts with your chosen wax at both cold and hot throw stages. Make sure it has an appealing aroma when burned and fills the room. Testing is the only way to ensure a great smelling candle every time.
With this robust list of my top choices for the best candle scents, you have plenty of heavenly options to incorporate into your homemade candle blends. Your recipients are sure to ooh, ahh, and keep coming back for more. Happy candle making!