C9SC Candles: Top, Middle and Bottom Notes - Explained

C9SC Candles: Top, Middle and Bottom Notes - Explained

The description of a candle's scent can seem confusing, or incorrect, because often times what the label reads is not what you smell when you test-whiff the jar. And there's an reason for this; scent blending is complex.

C9SC candle labels always list a name I have given it, which I am hoping you'll connect with, and three specific scents you'll recognize listed below that name. Sometimes one, or all three, of the scents will be obvious and sometimes a scent will only emerge when the candle is burning. Remember, scent is our biggest memory trigger and a personal experience, we will not all agree all the time. What I love, you might not like at all. And the scents that you are drawn to might not appeal to me. Here in lies the challenge as a candle-maker!

So why do you NOT smell all three scent notes on your first impression? It's because the weight of the scent molecule determines when the scent emerges in a blend. A scent blend is described as having top, middle, and bottom notes. But what does that mean?

Top notes: also known as "head notes" provide the first impression of a scent and are generally the driving factor in selecting a candle that you like, or don't like. These are light molecules that evaporate quickly.

Middle notes: also known as "heart" notes and are the main body of the fragrance. They are percieved most noticably when the top notes disappear. These notes help transition the nose to the bottom notes.

Bottom notes: also known as "base" notes are the heaviest molecules in the fragrance blend so they evaporate slowly. Bottom notes give depth and longevity to the blend and they're "fixative",  meaning they helping boost the strenghth of the top and middle notes. Bottom notes my not be perceived for 30 minutes into the burn.

It's also worth mentioning that an improperly wicked candle - too large, or too small - effects the scent of a burning candle. There is a science behind which type of wick is chosen, and why. A wick that burns too hot will burn off the scent molecules before they have a chance to enter the air. And a wick that does not burn hot enough will not produce enough heat to ignite the scent molecules and send them into the air.


1) Do not judge a candle's scent on your initial impression.
2) Not all candles are created equally - there is an art AND a science behind making a candle and not all people making candle have actually invested the time and money in learning how to make a candle that burns properly and smells divine.  
3) Know your candle maker. A quality-made candle will have been extensively tested by the chandler to insure a strong scent throw and a clean burn.


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