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What is the difference between fragrances and essential oils?

Posted on October 10, 2016

The difference between essential oils and fragrance oil..

Essential Oils:are 100% natural oils extracted from plants, flowers, stems, seeds, roots and leaves through several methods including steam distillation, cold pressing, extraction or solvent extraction.

They are used extensively in aromatherapy as part of a wholistic healing but are also used in products such as cosmetics, cleaning products, cooking and medicines. 

Fragrance Oils: are synthetic, man-made oils that contain a combination of essential oils and synthetic aroma oils.  

Fragrance candle oils

Fragrances are used extensively in the candle making industry, but also in cosmetics, cleaning products and other fragranced products.


Can I use Essential oils in my candles?

Technically the answer is yes, you can use essential oils in candles however let’s look into this in more detail.

 Natural –Essential oils are 100% natural so are great if you want to produce a 100% natural candle

Cost –Being natural and derived from plants, essential oils can be very pricey and many are just too cost prohibitive to be added into candles.

Performance –Essential oils are made by nature and are what they are.  They can vary from batch to batch depending on climatic conditions at the point of growing and harvesting.  Essential oils can react differently in a candle and when exposed to heat, compared to when they are used in an oil burner.  Being natural, there is no control over smell, strength, colour or variation.  Some essential oils simply do not throw strongly when burned and others simply do not react well to being burned and can give off adverse smells.


Why are fragrance oils better in candles?

Synthetic –although not natural, ACS fragrances are made with a high proportion of essential oils and synthetic aroma oils.  They combine the best of both worlds.

Cost –By using a combination of natural and synthetic oils, manufacturers of fragrances are able to produce bulk oils at a fraction of the cost of essential oils, helping to keep the cost of candles and other products down.

Performance – Being man-made means manufacturers have more control over the production process.  Fragrances can be manipulated and manufactured for specific uses, such as the cleaning industry, the personal care industry or the home fragrance products industry.  Fragrances can be specifically manufactured for candle making meaning fragrances can have stronger throws, can perform better in a variety of waxes, last longer when burning and can be so much more reliable, consistent and easier to use.

Using fragrances also gives you a much wider variety to choose from.  It is virtually impossible to blend a smell for a ‘birthday cake’ fragrance from essential oils whereas the only issue you would have with fragrance oils is choosing which one is your favourite.

Naturals -  Naturals are a cost effective alternative to essential oils in candles.  If you want to keep costs down, but still have a 100% natural candle, then using naturals might be for you.

Natural fragrances are man-made but are manufactured using a combination of essential oils and naturalaroma identicals and chemicals skilfully extracted from plants and oils.  They are a perfect middle ground when it comes to price and performance.


Whatever you chose to use in your candles and products, make sure you are fully aware of the pro’s and con’s and that you do lots and lots of personal testing to ensure your finished product performs and smells as it should. 

Educate yourself on safe handling practices of your materials and also safe use in your products.