A candle makes a beautiful gift, but like any other gift, it all depends on when and to whom it’s being given. The unique aspect of gifting candles is that they can be used as a general gift, or they can be really personal, all depending upon how you present them.
Scent is by far the most important aspect of giving someone a candle. The first thing to recognize about candle fragrance (and really, any fragranced items) are the “notes.” There are “top/head” notes, “middle/heart” notes, and “bottom” notes. In a candle, the top note is the scent you will smell right away, usually as a cold-throw. These scents are very important for the initial review of a fragrance, but are the ones to evaporate most quickly. Middle notes are also called the “heart” notes because they make up the main compound of a smell. This is usually after some burn time. Finally, the base notes are foundational scents, which are used to compound the middle and top notes; you can think of the base as fixative fragrance, or the foundation.
After considering all of the different notes, we usually divide up our candle fragrances into two major categories: Robust and Light. A robust fragrance is strong and powerful, often taking over the whole room. A light fragrance is gentler, still able to be noted, but not overpowering. We then subdivide into six categories: Sweet, Clean, Spicy, Flowery, Fruity, and Earthy. Some fragrances may fall into more than one category, and realistically, we could continue to subdivide into even more categories, but it just makes the process of choosing even more difficult!
Scent is a very personal experience, and what might be enjoyable to one person, may be repulsive to another. If you already know which scents a person likes, or even have an idea of the categories, choosing the proper fragrance should be relatively easy, but if you don’t, as professional chandlers, we get this question all the time: “How do I know what scent to buy for my friend?” To help determine the best fragrance for the person, we’ll ask::
- What perfume/cologne does the person wear? This can give you a good idea of the category of fragrance to go with.
- What general colors does he/she like? Colors often match fragrance choices. Common favorites, like blue, green, and red, are usually into more robust sweets and cleans. Less common favorites, like pinks, peaches, and acquas, are usually into lighter scents, or flowery, fruity, and clean. Darker favorites, such as browns, black, gray, orange, are into more earthy and spicy scents.
- What is his/her favorite season? Summers are usually light and clean, fruity, springs are usually light and flowery, falls are usually sweet, and winters are usually earthy and spicy.
- Does he/she like sweet or savory food? Sweet food lovers usually go for sweet, fruity, and clean, savory food lovers usually go for flowery, spicy, and earthy.
- How is his/her home decorated? This answer can usually help with the light and robust categories.
- Is the person an introvert or extrovert? Introverts usually like clean and flowery, while spicy and earthy appeal to extroverts. Sweet and fruity are a little harder to determine here.
- Does the person normally dress casually, business-like, fancy, or sweats? Our casual and sweats people usually prefer robust scents, while our business and fancy people usually go for lighter scents.
- Would the person rather spend a night watching Netflix or a night at the gym? Netflix folks tend to like sweet, fruity, and clean, while our gym people prefer spicy, earthy tones.
It’s important for me to point out that our questioning method is not completely scientific; however, because our sense of taste is closely related to our sense of smell, we have made these determinations based on experience. The best way to choose a fragrance is to smell it, walk away from it, and smell it again. The difficult part of the candle experience is that you really can’t get to the middle and base notes until you burn the candle, so please ask your chandler questions – a professional chandler will guide you in the best direction.