Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains.Diane Ackerman
Everyone has a different perception of fragrance and scents; this also applies to candles. Natural waxes blended with fragrances all react differently before and after they have been lit.
So how do we understand the world of perfume and all the different fragrance families or groups? This candle fragrance guide will provide you with some illuminating information about candle fragrances.
The roots of fragrance categorisation are deeply intertwined with the Comité Français du Parfum (French Perfume Committee), who have influenced the subject of fragrances worldwide for many years. The committee works on dividing and classifying perfume fragrances into subgroups and a range of combinations with up to seven major fragrance families. These classifications apply to male and female perfumes with manufacturers varying name combinations to suit their marketing efforts e.g. floral & oriental or oriental floral.
Perfume scents and fragrance can be classified into 7 families.
These families are:
- Oriental (Amber)
- Citrus (also called Hesperides)
- Fougère (or fern)
- Chypre (oak & moss fragrances)
- Leather (Masculine)
These families can be also be categorized under 4 fragrance groups:
Floral scents, or notes, are those that leave the impression of fresh cut flowers, gardens, and floral events. This is the classic perfume fragrance you easily recognise when you smell your favourite flower. They are characterised as floral, soft floral and oriental floral.
- The Floral family is predominantly composed of flower fragrances, e.g. rose, tuberose etc. soliflore (also called single-fragrance floral), lavender, floral bouquet, floral green, floral aldehydes, floral woody, and floral-fruity woody.
- Soft Floral fragrances are hinted with a powdery softness
- Oriental florals add a blend of sweetness and spices.
Oriental fragrance notes (or Amber) are mysterious, sensual and add a hint of spice. These are the scents that centuries ago only emperors and dignitaries would know and wear. Delightful musk and vanilla mixed with citrus and natural frost tones create a mystical oriental adventure. Oriental Amber fragrances tend to be blends of spice, wood, citrus and floral scents with a soft powdery essence.
- Oriental notes are mainly soft flowery scents blended with incense and rich, earthy amber.
- Oriental (Oriental Notes). Main notes include oriental resins such as frankincense and vanilla.
- Woody Oriental (Oriental + Woody Notes). Main notes include sandalwood and patchouli.
- Gourmet fragrances controversially sit under the Oriental fragrance family and are usually unsung and often not noticed and are derived from sweet edible blends of vanilla, coffee, chocolate, praline, and caramel which are often clipped with a hint of spicy or sweet fruit scents.
Woody scents are fragrances which evoke the aromas associated with the forest and outdoors. A well know scent of fresh-cut wood and moss. As easy as a bush walk or walk in the park, woody scents denote fresh, leathery, cedar, sandalwood, oak, and mossy appeal to your senses. Quite often a hint of spice or citrus is blended to add an oriental and fresh conifer scent. Woody tones appeal to all but tend to have a masculine appeal. A refined aromatic yet subtle fragrance.
- The woody family is mainly made up of a variety of aromas from well know wood species such as cedar, oak, and conifers.
- It is hard to divide the wood notes, but they are often blended with Oriental spicy notes drawing out the mossy fragrances.
- While a dry woody note will have not only the accent of wood but the scents of leather. The Leather family is the most masculine and evokes the smells of tobacco, smoke, and leather.
Fresh is a broad fragrance group of many essential oils that create wonderfully arousing scents. The vividness of citrus fruits, berries, fruit, and bitter, and aromatic herbs are scents we all recognise. Fresh also includes the outdoor freshness of floral musky flavours of lavender and fresh aquatic seaside memories, such as the fresh beachside with natural leafy smells.
- Citrus (also called hesperidia) gets its main notes from bergamot and other citrus oils. The essential oils of this family of fragrances are gathered from the zest of citrus fruits, floral chypre citrus, aromatic citrus, and spicy citrus.
- Fresh fruity notes that inspire the comfort of well-known scents from berries and non-citrus fruit are also blended with other fresh scents.
- The Aromatic chypre family is usually a blend of earthy scents blended with either of floral aldehydic chypre, fruit, green, leather or oaky moss.
- Green is a fragrance group that has fragrance notes such as galbanum and green fresh forest trees.
- Water is always associated with freshness and gains its base from marine and aquatic notes.
For more information on fragrances browse our Candle Essential Oils and Fragrance Oils FAQ page.