Fragrance Oil Vs. Essential Oil in Candle Making

Happy Flower Girl: Renaude Hatsedakis

There’s a bit of a debate about whether fragrance oil or essential oil is better when it comes to candle making.

Some people insist only natural essential oils will do, while fragrance oil fans say scents are stronger and there are more selections.

What are the differences between fragrance oils and essential oils?

Fragrance oils are usually synthetic, although they can smell like natural flowers, plants or fruits. Sometimes both fragrance oils and essential oils are used in a fragrance blend so would not necessarily be considered “natural” by those looking for aromatherapy type scents.

On the other hand, fragrance oils are frequently referred to as “aromatherapy” scents. Technically, they don’t have the medicinal or therapeutic properties of essential oils, but that doesn’t mean they won’t cheer you up. Also, fragrance oils provide more scent selections at a cheaper price, as almost any scent can be duplicated synthetically in the lab.

Essential oils are plant based and made using distillation, cold pressing or they’re extracted with a solvent like alcohol. These processes gets the “essence” out of the plants to be used for medicinal purposes or for bath and body products.

Essential oils tend to be more expensive because obtaining them requires more effort. For example, according to the “Roses” article on, it takes 30 roses to make 1 drop of essential oil and 60,000 roses to make one ounce. Since you can use up to half an ounce of essential oil per pound of wax in candle making, you can imagine how expensive that would be to use in candles.

Some of the different healing properties of essential oils

Peppermint is known to make people feel more refreshed and awake, so it’s an invigorating essential oil to add to candles. Citrus scents fall into this category as well. Citronella essential oil and lemongrass are also used in insect repellent candles.

Lavender is famous for relaxation and is used for reducing stress, while cinnamon and rose are good for romantic evenings.

Essential oils and heat

Some essentials oils are very delicate and don’t react well to heat. This means that scented candles made with essential oils will not always smell as strong as candles made with fragrance oils. (If that’s what you want, it’s a good thing!) Certain essential oils smell stronger than others. A few examples are: lavender, patchouli and lemongrass.

What about allergies?

It’s possible to have allergic and/or adverse reactions to essential oils as well as fragrance oils. If you’re making soap or massage candles, it’s important to make sure whatever you’re using is skin safe.  Because both soap and massage candles come in contact with skin, it makes more sense to use essential oils because the body can absorb the therapeutic properties better.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both, so the choice depends on individual preference, scent desire and of course budget. I tend to use both as there are so many fun candle fragrances to choose from. Which if any do you prefer?

Happy Flower Girl Photo by Renaude Hatsedakis


  1. says

    Thanks, Sandra, for your post! I don’t know much about candle making and your explanations of essential oils as compared with fragrance oils is very helpful! Thank you for listing some of the properties of each.

  2. says

    When I did make soaps and candles I did use essential oils and being very sensitive to all fragrances because they actually give me a headache if to strong, I like sea like fresh air scents, like linen or the sea. I find your opinion poll to be very, very informative and I know a lot more than I did before. Thanks for all the information.

  3. says

    Very interesting post! I didn’t really know the difference between the two types of oil. Sounds as if both types have their place. Thanks for such an informative article!

  4. says

    Thanks Linda! I haven’t tried soap yet because I end up spending my money on candle making supplies. There are a couple scents that give me a headache as well!

  5. Marianna says

    Thank you so much for this article! really useful since I m new to candle making. Until now I have only used essential oils orange – sandalwood (my favorite) and vanilla. I smelled cinnamon and apple and I cant say I liked them :/ I really liked orange sandalwood but the candle doesn’t really smell so much, even though I put more than the ml that the bottle says. It is 50ml (for 5 or 6 candles I think) and it cost me 7.60 euro !! The reason I will certainly try fragrance oils too is firstly the price, secondly because I want to succeed more smell and then as I searched on the internet there are much more choices for scents! Thank you very much!

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