Can You Add Essential Oils To Burning Candles? (Explained)

Having candles in the home is one of the best ways to liven up the atmosphere, create a cozy mood, and even add some scent. But from unscented candles to candles that simply don’t smell of much, you sometimes feel like you have to add your own touch.

With that in mind, you may have thought of adding essential oils to your burning candles to make them smell stronger. But is it a good idea, and will it work? Let’s find out!

Adding pure essential oils to the pool of melted wax in a burning candle is safe, and a good way to create a stronger smell. The essential oils will mix in with the wax and burn at the correct temperature, which will release a strong smell throughout the room. 

But be careful, essential oils are flammable. As an alternative, you could also put a couple of drops of candle fragrance oil into your candle, or even specks of scented wax cubes. All of these ingredients work because they are meant to be used in candles.

Be careful though, adding alcohol-based ingredients like perfume or air freshener isn’t a good idea, as those aren’t meant to be mixed in with candle way.

Essential Oils And Burning Candles

Why Does My Candle Not Smell When Burning?

Few things are more disappointing than buying a scented candle and getting excited to light it up, only to find out its burning smell is minimal if not nonexistent. There are a couple of reasons why your candle may not have the smell you were expecting:

It Is Too Old

Believe it or not, scented candles actually have a limited shelf life. Like perfume in a bottle, they will lose some of their smell as time wears on. When buying new candles or making them from scratch, it is important to use them in the following months.

One way that you can increase the shelf life of a burning candle is to put it in an air-tight container. In fact, a lot of candles will come in an air-tight mason jar, as this remains the best way to extend their ability to throw off the scent when burning.

But if you suspect that your candle has spent a few months out in the open after you bought it, there’s nothing doing. It will smell weaker and you may have to top up the scent with essential oils or fragrance oil.

It Doesn’t Contain Enough Fragrance

Not adding in enough fragrance may be an issue when you are making candles yourself. It’s important to use the right concentration of essential oils or fragrance oil in the wax. Failing that, your candle may be too weak and the smell won’t come across.

If you are buying a scented candle, it is less likely that the proportion of fragrance was off, though it remains a possibility, especially when buying from a new seller.

You might also like: Why Does My Scented Candle Not Smell.

How Long Does It Take For Candles To Smell?

As a general rule, a scented candle will start smelling half an hour to an hour after you light it. As the wax is heated up and starts to liquefy, the fragrance releases into the air. After an hour and a half to two hours, the scent will be at its maximum.

If you have decided to add in some essential oils to your candle to increase its smell, you should notice the effects immediately. As soon as the essential oils are introduced to the hot wax, they are released into the air around and should start to make your room smell awesome.

Are Essential Oils Flammable In Candles?

Although essential oils can be flammable, putting them into a candle poses no risks. This is because, although the flame of a candle is burning hot, the wax maintains a steady temperature that is low enough to avoid burning essential oils.

So unless you are spraying your essential oils directly into the flame of the candle, which we don’t recommend, they are not flammable.

How Do You Use Essential Oils In Candles?

There are two ways that you can use essential oils for great-smelling candles. The first is simply to add a few drops of essential oils into the pool of hot wax that has formed in an unscented or weakly-scented candle.

Be careful, essential oils are very strong and you don’t need to use a lot. Just add in a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil, be it lavender, sweet orange or lemongrass, and wait until the smell fills the room.

This is a great and inexpensive solution to get some aromatherapy from your essential oils…and improve the experience of using candles all at once!

The second way to use essential oils in candles is to make your own candles, using natural ingredients. This is a great way to use your essential oils, get the benefits of aromatherapy, and choose your own smells.

However, most people agree that using essential oils to scent candles isn’t the most efficient way. You will need quite a lot of essential oils: about 20 or 25 drops for every cup of wax that you use. This can make the technique rather pricey, especially if you compare that to the cost of using fragrance oil instead.

That being said, it remains a great, natural way to make your own scented candles, and we recommend it to the most die-hard essential oil lovers out there.

How Can You Make Your Candles Smell Stronger?

So you’ve decided to make your own candles, and are finding that you’d like a stronger smell? Fortunately, there are a couple of tricks you can use to make the most out of your essential oils or fragrance oils.

The first is of course to make sure that you are using enough of the scenting agent. When using essential oils, it can be tempting to think you can get away with using only a few drops. But as powerful as they are, essential oils are also very volatile, and you will need to use a lot to really make a candle smell.

The same goes for fragrance oil: don’t be tempted to cheap out and use less than your recipe calls for: a great smelling candle does require a lot of scenting agents.

Our second tip is to weigh out the amount of fragrance oil that you use. Using kitchen scales works much better than using tablespoons or measuring cups, as they allow you to be more precise. You should also be able to find recipes for making essential oils-scented candles that include the proper measurements in weight, rather than volume.

Third, make sure that you are respecting the recipe to the letter. After you have melted the wax, the fragrance oil or essential oils should be added when the wax has cooled down to exactly 185F.

Adding oils without waiting for the wax to reach the perfect temperature will often result in a waste of fragrance—and a much weaker smelling candle.

Finally, a candle will smell stronger when it is well-preserved. Don’t forget to close your candles with a lid after they have cooled down, and don’t wait years to use them. A candle is meant to be used fresh.

Which Wax Gives The Best Scent Throw?

When it comes to smelling up your room, not all candles are born equal. Candle-makers distinguish two qualities which they look for: cold throw, and hot throw. A cold throw is the fragrance that comes out of a candle when you smell it in its cold state.

Although it doesn’t necessarily reflect on how a candle smells when burning, manufacturers focus on the cold throw a lot because it’s what makes people buy candles! The hot throw is the smell that your candle gives off when it is being burned.

Some candles will fill up a whole room with smell in no time, while others can have a much weaker throw. So how does the wax that you use to influence these factors?

Let’s start with soy wax. Non-toxic and slow-burning, soy wax has been a favorite with candle makers in recent years. While soy candles have a very strong cold throw, their hot throw is average, filling the room, but not as powerfully as some other waxes.

Paraffin wax has by far the most powerful scent throw, hot and cold, but it can also be toxic when burned in a closed environment and burns faster than soy wax. Finally, beeswax is similar to soy, having a slow and steady scent throw that is neither very powerful nor overpowering.

Some manufacturers will use a mix of paraffin and other waxes to gain the most benefits from both. This is a good way to retain the powerful scent throw of paraffin, while making a candle slower-burning, and less toxic.

Also read: What Is the Healthiest Candle to Burn.


Scented candles really have the power to transform a room. But when their smell is underwhelming, disappointment inevitably ensues. There are a couple of things you can do to increase the smell of your candles.

First, you could add some essential oils to a burning candle for a more powerful smell. Next, you could make candles yourself, be careful to measure out fragrance properly, and follow proper timing.

Finally, be careful of which ingredients you use. Essential oils and fragrance oils work differently, and so do different types of wax. Yes, candle science is quite a bit more complex than you might have expected!

But follow instructions properly, conserve your candles in air-tight jars and don’t skimp out on fragrance and you are sure to have powerful-smelling candles—every single time.

Grace Young

I love candles! I have personally tried over 100 brands of candles. The total burn time of these candles is over 5000 hours. I also talk about essential oil diffusers and reed diffusers. Essential oil diffusers and diffusers are also an important part of the scent in my home.

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