Do Scented Candles Smell When Not Lit


Scented candles are the perfect additions to our homes. Not only do they smell great, but they also create a lovely atmosphere. But do you need to light your scented candle in order for it to smell?

No, a scented candle is comprised of fragrant oils that you’ll still be able to smell, even when a candle is not lit. This is called the cold throw. The scent you pick up will differ in intensity, depending on the quality of your candle.

In this article, we’ll discuss how unlit candles still provide you with their scent and why you probably want to light them at some point!

Why Do Scented Candles Smell Even When They’re Unlit

Of course, candles smell great when they are lit in our homes. The rich aromas that are emitted from flaming candles fill up our living spaces and create the perfect atmosphere for relaxation and rest. Really, we all need this as we spend more time indoors and in our homes!

Still, you don’t always have to keep your candle lit to enjoy its great smell in your home. The cold throw of a candle, or the scent of an unlit candle, can vary in its intensity, but it can be smelled. Some candles throw off more of a scent unlit than others. Other candles don’t really give off a scent at all unless they are lit with a flame.

You can leave certain candles out and unsealed and won’t get a scent at all unless it on fire. But, with other candles, the smell will really come off the wax, even when there is no flame. It all depends on the particular fragrances used in the candles and how the candles were made.

For example, some scents have to be activated by heat to really be noticed. This includes woodier or more earthy smells. Flames help bring out the tones of these fragrances much more easily.

On the other hand, floral scents can be more intense and really smell good even when they aren’t lit. You could just leave your candle unlit in a room and have the smell fill your room quite easily if you wanted to. Smoky and resin-based candles also have a similar effect.

With a concentrated amount of natural fragrance, a candle’s scent will stand out, even when a fire is absent. Again, this won’t be the case with every type of scent. But if you can find a candle or even make a candle that has a strong cold throw you won’t have to light your candle all hours of the day to enjoy its fragrance.

Cold Throw Vs Hot Throw And Why Some Cold Throws Are More Potent

In this next section, we’ll talk more about what candle making practices create a better cold throw. We will also discuss what a hot throw is. To clarify, cold throw refers to the scent of your candle without a flame, while hot throw refers to the scent of your candle when it is lit with a flame. Various candle making techniques will create a better cold throw or hot throw.

1. The Type Of Wax

We talked about certain fragrances that can make a candle smell better when unlit. However, part of the effectiveness of cold throws, and hot throws, also has to do with the wax used. Soy candles, for example, are a bit of a mix-up. You can get a good cold throw with a soy candle, but these candles need to be made under the right conditions.

2. Temperature

In general, to get a good scented candle, even without a flame, essential oils and other scents have to be placed into the candle at the right temperature. Scents should be put in at 185 degrees Fahrenheit for the best results. When scents are put in at lower temperatures or higher temperatures you won’t be able to smell your candle as well. This rule applies whether the candle is lit or unlit.

3. Too Much Or Too Little Essential Oils

In addition, scents need to be mixed into a candle correctly. For instance, you don’t want to buy a candle with wax that is overpowered with essential oil. Wax can only hold so much fragrance. There is a certain percentage of fragrance that you want to put in.

This will depend on what kind of wax is used, though. This can seem illogical, but when a candle is overloaded with a scent it can actually reduce the scent and make it less potent. This happens with both lit and unlit candles.

4. The Quality Of Ingredients

Finally, the quality and type of scents used in your candle can affect how powerful your cold throw is. Not only do you want to get a candle with scents that can be smelled, even without a flame. You also want to get a candle that uses high-quality materials. Not all essential oils and fragrances are suited to the wax of a candle.

In fact, some fragrances do not mix well with candle wax at all and will result in a low-intensity smell when a candle is lit or unlit. To prevent this, we recommend buying candles from well-known brands. We don’t always want to spend extra money on candles. But if you want a candle that smells good when it is not lit, you need to buy from a reputable brand.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money on a high-end candle, but investing a little bit of cash can go a long way. Especially, if you want to ensure that the best candle making techniques are being used on your candle. Candlemakers that have been in business longer will know how to create the best cold throws and hot throws for your candle!  

Should You Leave Your Unlit Candles Uncovered

Lighting up candles in your home can be the perfect way to unwind after a long day at work or school. Coming home to your favorite scents can even help you destress and find inner peace more easily. In fact, aromatherapy with candles and other scented products is becoming more popular worldwide.

Still, you don’t want to leave a lit candle on all the time, especially if it is unattended. It can be tempting to leave a candle lit all day so that your home is filled with great scents throughout the day. However, this can be highly unsafe for you and your home.

This does not mean, however, that your home can’t be filled with the scent of your candle. If you leave the lid of your unlit candle open, the scent of it can waft through your house safely. You’ll still get all the benefits of smelling your candle when you get home, but you won’t risk burning your house down.

Candles are technically not dangerous. However, if you leave them unattended they can pose a risk to your health and safety. So, you never want to leave your candle lit up when you aren’t there to watch it.

Again, candles can be a real fire hazard when you are not watching over them. So just stick with leaving your candle open and unlit when you are not home. And, even if you are home, you might want a less overpowering scent.

An unlit and exposed candle can give you a hint of the scents you want to smell. Just remember to buy candles with fragrances that can emit smells well even when there is no flame present.

Why You Probably Want To Light Your Candle Anyway

A scented candle gets its scent from the fragrance oils. These fragrance oils work the same as they do in perfumery. Simply put, they will evaporate over time, especially when in contact with air.

In order to prevent your candle from losing its scent, you should light it at least once. This will ensure that a layer of wax will trap the fragrance oils inside and shield it from the air. This will in turn ensure a candle that holds its scent for a longer time.

I have written a whole article about storing your candles and ensuring they don’t lose their scent over time, which you can find here!

Also, when you don’t light your candle, you still may be able to smell its wonderful scent, but the warming flame of the candle is another calming and pleasing aspect of it. Lighting it will give you the whole picture; a wonderful scent and a wonderful atmosphere!

Jasper Pieterse

Hi, my name is Jasper and I've been a long time fragrance fan. Ever since 2014, I started to get a huge interest in fragrances and I've had my nose on countless of different fragrances. I'm excited to share my experiences!

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