Essential oils are aromatic compounds extracted from plants that are used to provide fragrance and therapeutic benefits. When adding essential oils to candles, the goal is to create a candle with a nice even scent without the oils overpowering the wax. Determining how much essential oil to use in candle making takes some experimentation based on the size of your container, the type of wax, and the strength of the essential oil. Here are some tips for using essential oils in candles.
Factors That Determine Essential Oil Amount
There are a few key factors that determine how much essential oil you should use when making scented candles:
- Container size – The amount of wax (and therefore essential oil) needed will vary depending on the size of your candle container. More oil is needed for larger containers.
- Wax type – The wax composition impacts how well it retains fragrance. Natural waxes like soy and beeswax hold scents better than paraffin.
- Essential oil strength – How concentrated the aroma is depends on the plant source. Thick, resinous oils like sandalwood are stronger than light citrus oils.
- Fragrance preference – Personal choice on scent strength also factors in. Some prefer subtle scents while others like very aromatic candles.
Testing out different oil amounts is the best way to determine your ideal concentration. A starting point is around 1% of the wax weight, though many variables can affect the final outcome.
General Essential Oil Use Rates
As a general guideline, here are typical essential oil usage rates:
- 1-3% for lighter oils like citrus, herbals, and florals
- 3-6% for woodsy, earthy, and spice oils
- 5-10% for very strong oils like clove, rosemary, and patchouli
The recipes below provide more specific amounts based on various candle sizes.
Essential Oil Amounts for Small Candles
For small candles like votives and tarts that hold 1-4 ounces of wax, a good starting amount is:
- 15-30 drops for lighter essential oils
- 25-45 drops for medium strength oils
- 30-60 drops for very strong oils
Always add oils gradually and test the scent throw along the way. For votives and tarts, stir the oil into melted wax before pouring into molds.
4 Ounce Mason Jar Candle
A typical 4 ounce (120 ml) mason jar candle recipe:
- 4 ounces soy wax flakes
- 20-40 drops essential oils (lighter oils on low end, stronger oils on high end)
Melt wax fully before stirring in essential oils. For best results, let mixture sit for a few hours before pouring to allow the fragrance to fully infuse.
2 Ounce Melted Wax Tart
For a 2 ounce (60 ml) wax melt:
- 2 ounces soy wax flakes
- 15-25 drops essential oil
Combine wax and oils in a double boiler style melter. Stir well, then pour into tart molds or clamshells. Adjust oil amount to get your desired scent strength.
Essential Oil Amounts for Medium Candles
For mid-size candles that hold 5-12 ounces of wax, recommended essential oil amounts are:
- 1⁄2 teaspoon (45-90 drops) for lighter scented oils
- 3⁄4 teaspoon (100-140 drops) for medium strength oils
- 1 teaspoon (140-175 drops) for very concentrated oils
6 Ounce Ball Mason Jar Candle
Typical 6 ounce (180 ml) round mason jar recipe:
- 6 ounces soy wax flakes
- 1⁄2 – 3⁄4 teaspoon essential oils (start low, add more to preference)
Stir oils into melted wax, allowing wax to fully liquefy first. Let sit 1-2 hours before pouring into a 6 ounce mason jar container.
8 Ounce Single Wick Jar Candle
For an 8 ounce (240 ml) basic jar candle:
- 8 ounces paraffin wax
- 1⁄2 – 1 teaspoon essential oils
Mix the oils into melted paraffin wax. Allow to sit before pouring into a wide mouth 8 ounce jar. Adjust oil to increase or decrease scent strength.
12 Ounce Double Wick Jar Candle
To make a 12 ounce (355 ml) double wicked jar candle:
- 12 ounces soy wax flakes
- 3⁄4 – 1 1⁄4 teaspoons essential oils
Combine soy wax and oils, stirring to integrate. Let sit 1-2 hours, then pour into a 12 ounce jar. Use two wicks for an even melt pool.
Essential Oil Amounts for Large Candles
For candles over 12 ounces, the following essential oil amounts are commonly used:
- 1-2 teaspoons for lighter scented oils
- 2-3 teaspoons for medium strength oils
- 3-4 teaspoons for very strong concentrated oils
When making large candles, add oils gradually until you reach the desired fragrance level to prevent overpowering the wax.
16 Ounce Large Jar Candle
A 16 ounce (470 ml) large jar candle recipe:
- 16 ounces paraffin wax
- 1 1⁄2 – 2 teaspoons essential oils
Slowly integrate the essential oils into fully melted paraffin, stirring continuously. Allow to sit before pouring into a wide 16 ounce candle jar.
20-22 Ounce Extra Large Jar Candle
For a 20-22 ounce (590-650 ml) oversized jar candle:
- 20-22 ounces soy wax flakes
- 2 – 3 teaspoons essential oils
Thoroughly combine soy wax and essential oils over low heat. Let infuse 1-2 hours before pouring into an extra-large jar container. Use 2-3 wicks for even burning.
24 Ounce Pillar Candle
To make a 24 ounce (710 ml) pillar candle:
- 24 ounces natural beeswax
- 2 1⁄2 – 4 teaspoons essential oils
Add the essential oils gradually into melted beeswax, mixing thoroughly. Pour into a pillar mold, adding any dyes if desired. Allow to fully set up before unmolding.
Tips for Using Essential Oils
Here are some key tips to follow when using essential oils in candle making:
- Always add oils after wax is fully melted.
- Start with less oil – it’s easy to add more, hard to remove excess.
- Mix well and allow candle to cure 1-2 hours for scent to develop.
- Consider blending oils for more complex aromas.
- Use toothpicks for drop-by-drop precision.
- Store unused oils properly in dark glass bottles.
Making scented candles is an art that takes some practice. Keep notes on what oil amounts work for each wax type and candle size. This makes it easier to tweak recipes and achieve your perfect candle scent.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does wax type affect how much essential oil to use?
Yes, the wax composition makes a big difference in how much essential oil it can hold. Natural waxes like soy, coconut, and beeswax have a higher oil capacity compared to paraffin. A 16 ounce soy candle would need about 2 teaspoons of oil versus 1 teaspoon for a paraffin candle of the same size.
Can I use more essential oil to make candles extra fragrant?
It’s generally not recommended to use more than 10% essential oils in candles. Excessive amounts can cause the wax to sweat oil pools on the surface. Too much oil can also lead to smoking, tunneling, and an uneven burn.
How do I know which essential oils are stronger?
As a general rule, thick resinous oils from wood, seeds, roots, and spices are very concentrated. These include sandalwood, clove, patchouli, vetiver, cedarwood. Citrus and floral oils tend to be lighter and require more volume.
Is there a difference between scented oils and essential oils?
Scented oils are synthetic fragrance oils, while essential oils come directly from real plant sources. For a natural homemade candle, stick with pure essential oils. Be sure they are not adulterated or diluted with carriers.
Should I add essential oils to the wax while hot or cold?
Always add the essential oils once the wax has fully liquefied to ensure proper incorporating throughout the candle. Cooler wax can hold less oil saturation.