Candles were first made thousands of years ago, from materials such as boiled down fat (or tallow) from the carcasses of cattle and other livestock which were usually slaughtered for food. In some parts of the world, candle wax was made from fat obtained from whales, while some used insects rolled up in paper to form candles. Wicks, in those times, were often made from twine and other fibers gotten from plants. In this present day and age, candles are usually made of paraffin wax. However, many people have begun to wonder why their homemade candles do not smell.



Candles are made of candlewax and wicks. The wax is the fuel source which the candle utilizes to sustain its flame, as no fire can burn without fuel. Ancient people who lived thousands of years ago were responsible for creating the very first candles. These earliest forms of candles were made with boiled down fat (or tallow) from the carcasses of cattle and other livestock which had been slaughtered for food. For a long time since their invention, candles were one of the few sources of indoor and portable illumination and its impact can still be felt in various aspects of society and cultures from all over the world.

Candles were one of the major sources of indoor illumination until the 1800s when the electric light bulbs were invented. It was at this point that the demand for candles and the art of candle-making started to face a substantial decline; which was a sharp contrast from what had existed before-hand. Prior to the widespread commercialization of the electric light bulb, candle-making was a well-respected craft of great renown. Candle-makers of those times used to move from household to household to make candles for a commission. These candles were usually made with boiled down fat which was set aside in the kitchens of the households for this purpose.

In recent decades, however, the world has seen an increase in the demand for candles, as candles have evolved in order to fit other needs asides indoor illumination. Candles have become major players in aromatherapy where the scented types (of candles) are used for relaxation and stress relief, when they are burned. Scented candles are not only made commercially, they can also be homemade. However, many makers of homemade scented candles complain that their candles do not smell.



Scented candles are candles to which perfumes or fragrances have been added. These perfumes or fragrances are often plant based, and this is what makes them (scented candles) well suited for aromatherapy. During candle burning, flame on the wick melts the candlewax, and as the candlewax melts, the fragrances or perfumed embedded within it are released. These fragrances are usually of one particular type (e.g. citrus, vanilla, lavender, coconut etc.) and they are usually added to the candle while it is in it’s melted, liquid form, during the candle-making process. Scented candles make up for a large percentage of the global candle demand, during this present day and age; as information obtained from the National Candle Association (NCA) indicates that two-thirds of regular candle buyers have stated that scent is a major factor in their candle selection process, while making purchase.


Scented candles can be made commercially, in factories which produce hundreds and thousands of candles per day. However, the homemade variety are also common. Both types are made in almost the same manner, following the exact same template of melting the wax, adding fragrance to the melted wax (in liquid form), attaching the wick and allowing the candle to cool and solidify inside it’s mold or container (that is, in the cases of the container or jar scented types). Nevertheless, many markers of homemade scented candles, as well as their buyers, sometimes notice that homemade candles don’t smell and that if they do, the fragrance they emit is not usually strong. This does not happen to everybody, nor does it happen all the time, however it does happen very often. Here are some of the reasons that may be behind such occurrences:

  • High temperature of the wax

During the process of making scented candles, the perfumes or fragrances are usually added when the wax is in its melted, liquid form at the recommended temperature of 185°F or there about. At higher temperatures, the heat from the melted wax may cause the fragrances or perfumes to evaporate, thus reducing the strength of the scent during candle burning, later on. In order to prevent this fragrance loss due to high temperature, the perfumes or fragrances should be added to the melted, liquid candlewax at the recommended temperature (that is, 185°F). Conversely, the fragrances should not be added into the wax at very low temperatures as the wax would have already began to solidify and the fragrances wouldn’t be able to mix very well.

  • The amount of fragrance or perfume used

The quantity (and also the quality) of the fragrance or perfume used in making scented candles also has a huge impact on whether the candle would smell or not and how strong the scent would be. If too little quantity of fragrance or perfume is added to melted, liquid wax then there is a strong likelihood that the strength of scent emitted by the solidified finished product (i.e. scented candle) would be very weak. Quite simply put, such a candle – to which too little quantity of fragrance has been added – would not smell as strongly as one with the appropriate and required amount of fragrance.

  • Mixing

Mixing plays an important role in the production of homemade scented candles. After fragrances or perfumes have been added to the melted, liquid wax, the mixture should be stirred well in order to regulate the fragrance and spread it evenly within the candle before the candle is cooked and solidified.

  • The type of wax used

Some types of candlewax absorb fragrance or perfume much easily and better compared to others. This is why the same quantity of the same kind of fragrance can be added to two different mixes of candles (made from different waxes) at the same temperature, and one of them would smell stronger than the other when burned. Therefore, special care and research should be taken in order to select the right kind of wax for the type of fragrance you want to use.

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