Making Sense of Scents
Originally, the only scented candles were those made of a wax that was naturally scented — beeswax smells of honey, and bayberry wax smells of, well, bayberries, a unique fragrance. Today's scented candles run the gamut of known fragrances — from floral to spicy. Among those available is everything from scents we associate with the flower garden to those that recall to us the smell of different foods — the fragrance of fruits such as citrus and homey cinnamon-and-apple smell of a freshly baked apple pie. With today's flourishing business in chemical fragrances (though some of these are declared to be “natural” on the labels of products that contain them, they are nonetheless derived by a chemical process), you can scent your home or office in many ways, ranging from the commercial “air freshener” products to completely natural herb and/or flower potpourris.
Candlemaking certainly takes advantage of the variety of scents available for use. Generally speaking, you can purchase a variety of common scents from your craft store. These are known in the trade as “industrial odorants,” and are synthetic derivatives. Still, they smell good, and it's sometimes difficult to tell the difference between a “real” fragrance — one made from an actual flower, plant, or herb — and a synthetically produced scent.
The perfume industry is also a source of fragrances that can be used to scent candles. There are concentrates of basic fragrances available and some blends that are licensed. When using scents of any kind, be sure they are oil-based (wax is an oil). Alcohol-based scents will simply evaporate on contact with the hot wax.
One source of candlemaking techniques suggests using potpourri for scenting candles by rolling the still-warm candle in the potpourri so that a layer of the leaves, flower petals, or whatever the potpourri is composed of, adheres to the candle. Then, the candle is overdipped to fix the potpourri bits to its surface. The possible problem here is that as the candle burns it might burn the plant material, producing an odor other than what was intended. However, if the candle is of large diameter and the overdip is made from a hard wax, this probably will not happen.
Clearly there are many color-scent combinations. Some of these are quite obvious — white or ivory with vanilla, for example. To get you started, here are a few suggestions about combining colors with scents:
White — Gardenia, lily of the valley
Red or pink — Rose, tea rose, carnation, geranium
Yellow — Honeysuckle, lemon, freesia
Orange — Citrus
Blue — Hyacinth
Green — Mint, herbs like tarragon, dill, eucalyptus
Purple or lilac — Lavender, violets, hyacinth
Brown — Clove, cinnamon, spices
Knowledge of the physiological and psychological effects of natural fragrances is the basis of aromatherapy, and scented candles are often used for aromatherapy.