Scent 101

We’re always learning here at THE NEW SAVANT, so we thought we’d share some of the terms we use the most around our studio.

Olfactory: Something related to the sense of smell – pretty simple!

Hot throw: This is the scent you smell when a candle is lit. It comes from the heat of the flame, which melts the wax and releases it into the air. “Throw” is also used to describe how far a scent travels within a room.

Cold throw: This is the scent you smell when a candle isn’t lit. When you shop for candles IRL, you’re usually using the cold throw as your guide – by smelling the aroma of the cold wax.

Top notes: These notes are usually what you smell first and are often the first impression of a scent. With candles, you’ll notice the top notes a lot in the cold throw.

Middle notes: These notes make up the “heart” of a fragrance. They provide complexity and balance to the overall scent – think of them as the stars of the show. With candles, the middle notes tend to come out more when a candle is burning.

Base notes: These notes round out and ground a fragrance. With candles, the base notes are what tend to linger in a room *after* you blow a candle out.

Melt pool: This is the melted wax that forms around the wick of a candle when it’s burning. As a general rule, the larger a melt pool is, the stronger the scent throw. To get the most out of your candles, make sure the melt pool always reaches the edges of the vessel before extinguishing – this prevents tunneling!

Cure: After pouring, this is the time it takes for the candle wax to harden and completely bind with the fragrance oil. Cure times vary greatly, but in general, the longer a candle cures, the stronger the scent throw will be.

Mushrooming: If you’ve ever noticed little black puffs on the tip of a wick, that’s mushrooming. It’s very common and caused by the wick absorbing more wax than it can burn. Trimming your wick before *every* burn greatly reduces mushrooming and helps your candle last longer!

Tunneling: This occurs when the wick burns down the center of a candle without creating a full melt pool. Eventually, the flame will get smaller as the wick gets covered by wax and relighting becomes difficult to impossible. Tunneling greatly reduces the life of a candle, so make sure to get a full melt pool during every burn!

Memory: You may see wax described as having a “memory.” This refers to the ring that’s left behind by a melt pool. If you extinguish a candle before it reaches a full melt pool, it will only burn up to that same ring during the next burn and is likely to result in tunneling.

Nose: This is industry terminology for a perfumer, who is an expert trained in the composition of fragrance.