If you are just getting into candle making and experimenting with different fragrances, you have likely come across something called a flashpoint mentioned on the fragrance oil packaging. The term “flashpoint” in candle making can seem daunting and scary, but it’s quite simple to understand.
In candle making, a flashpoint refers to the temperature where a fragrance oil can combust when exposed to a flame. When a fragrance reaches its flashpoint and comes into contact with a spark, it can combust and ruin its scent. Always check the flashpoint of a fragrance before adding it to hot wax.
A fragrance flashpoint could be potentially dangerous, so it is essential to understand what it is and how you can avoid causing your fragrance to combust. In this article, I’ll cover everything you’ll need to know about fragrance flashpoints when you are just beginning in candle making.
So let’s just get right into what EXACTLY a flashpoint is in regards to candle making, why it matters, how to find the flashpoint of a fragrance, and so much more!
What Exactly Does Flashpoint Mean in Candle Making?
Flashpoint is a term used in many industries and situations, but when it refers to candle making, flashpoint means the temperature where a fragrance oil can combust when it comes into contact with a flame or spark.
Although, it doesn’t mean that a fragrance oil will just spontaneously combust when it reaches its flashpoint. The flashpoint of a fragrance oil is simply the temperature where it CAN happen if it comes into contact with fire.
Fragrance oils will also often burn off their top notes (some of the first scents you smell when you are near a newly lit candle) when they reach their flashpoint. A candle’s scent can burn off if you add fragrance to wax that is hotter than its flashpoint, even if a flame or spark is not present.
Fragrance oil flashpoints in candle making can be a little confusing at times, but just know that when a fragrance reaches its flashpoint temperature, it can combust or lose some of its scent. If at all possible, you should try to avoid letting a fragrance oil reach its flashpoint.
Read more about Fragrance Oil vs Essential Oil, Which is Better for Candle Making.
Why Does a Fragrance Oil’s Flashpoint Even Matter?
Now that you have at least a basic understanding of flashpoints in candle making, you’re probably wondering, “but why does it even matter?” Depending on what type of candles you make and what situation you are in, knowing about flashpoints can be absolutely essential to being safe and making good quality candles.
Most people making candles are either doing it at home as a hobby or doing it as a business commercially, so let’s look at flashpoints and talk about why they are essential for people in either situation. It is also necessary to know all about flashpoints if you are shipping or mailing candles, so I’ll cover that as well.
Making Candles at Home
If you are making candles at home as a hobby, knowing the inner workings and putting a TON of attention on fragrance oil flashpoints isn’t necessary in most cases. Merely knowing that you shouldn’t heat fragrance oil past its flashpoint is plenty to get started.
As long as you make your candles properly, take the right safety measures, add the correct amount of fragrance oil, and don’t add fragrance before the wax has cooled to below its flashpoint, you should be completely fine.
In many cases, the amount of fragrance oil that you add to a small homemade candle isn’t enough to cause any problems with flashpoints. You should always stay safe and pay attention to your fragrance’s flashpoint, but don’t stress about it if you’re just making a few candles at home.
Read more about How to Make Scented Candles at Home? (Step-by-Step Instructions).
Making Candles Commercially
If you are making candles as a business and doing it commercially, it is much more important to know about fragrance oil flashpoints and how to avoid them. Not only are there potential safety issues, but an entire batch of candles can have very weak scents if they reach their flashpoint.
Some candle manufacturers produce candles with the maximum fragrance percentage, but their candles still smell very weak. This weak scent is likely due to the fragrance reaching its flashpoint and losing some of its top and middle notes. While a weak scent from the fragrance reaching its flashpoint can undoubtedly happen with hobby candle makers, the risk is much higher in a commercial setting.
If you make candles commercially, just make sure to do your homework and tread carefully around fragrance flashpoints. Fragrance flashpoints can cause some pretty severe safety problems, as well as ruin entire batches of candles if you’re not diligent.
Read more about Is It Cheaper to Make Your Own Candles? Numbers You Need to Know.
As you might suspect, mailing combustible or flammable liquids are regulated pretty tightly. Candles with fragrance oils don’t often cause any problems, but it is crucial to keep in mind if you are regularly shipping or mailing candles.
According to USPS, liquids with a flashpoint between 100° F (38° C) and 140° F (60° C) can be classified as either combustible or flammable liquids and are restricted to only ground transportation. Liquids with a flashpoint of 140° F (60° C) or above are acceptable for both air and ground transportation.
Most fragrance oils used in candles have a flashpoint between 140° F (60° C) and 200°F (93°C), so shipping them shouldn’t be a problem. It’s just always a good idea to double-check your fragrance oil’s flashpoint before shipping and touch up on the regulations put forth by the shipping company you use.
What Happens When You Heat a Fragrance Past its Flashpoint?
A fragrance oil’s flashpoint is the minimum temperature needed to release enough flammable vapor to actually catch fire if an ignition source is present. I’ve already gone over what a flashpoint is in this article, but what happens if you heat a fragrance past its flashpoint?
Two scenarios can occur if you heat a fragrance oil past its flashpoint: it loses most of its scent or catches fire.
In most cases, if you heat up or pour fragrance oil into wax that is hotter than its flashpoint, it will simply lose a good portion of its scent. The vapor released from the oil at its flashpoint takes many scent molecules away and leaves your fragrance oil much less intense than it originally was.
However, if sparks or fire are involved once a fragrance oil reaches its flashpoint, it will most likely combust into flames. Overall, both situations are undesirable, so it is best if you try your best to ensure the fragrance oils you use in your candles never reach their flashpoint.
How to Find the Flashpoint of Your Fragrance Oils
The most simple and straightforward way to find the flashpoint of the particular fragrance oil you have is to look at the product packaging or its website.
On product packaging, it will often look like this on the label: Flash Point: >140° F
The above example shows the fragrance oil’s flashpoint as 140 ° F, but flashpoints vary between fragrance types, so make sure to check your individual product.
If the flashpoint isn’t explicitly stated on your product’s bottle (this sometimes occurs on smaller bottles of fragrances), check the company’s website or any other packaging that came with your fragrance. Online reviews of your particular fragrance can also be a good indicator of its flashpoint if the company doesn’t disclose the flashpoint on their website or product packaging.
One thing to NEVER do when trying to find your fragrance oil’s flashpoint is to heat it until it catches fire. Bringing a fragrance oil to its flashpoint can be extremely dangerous, so make sure to research and find your product’s flashpoint before using it to make candles.
When you make candles, it is important to know and pay attention to your fragrance oil’s flashpoint, but it isn’t something to stress too much about. If you make sure you know what you’re doing and take all necessary safety precautions, you should have no problems with fragrance flashpoints.
If you leave here with one simple tip when it comes to avoiding flashpoints, simply let your wax cool down until it’s below your fragrance’s flashpoint and add the correct amount of oil for your candle’s size.