Do you know your wick from your wet spots? Oh, and how's the throw?
These aren't just candle making terms, by the way. Casual candle lovers may be interested in understanding the artistry and science behind making candles.
Getting familiar with essential candle lingo can help you make more informed choices about the candles you choose to purchase – which is always a good thing!
Here's a quick glossary with all the most important candle terms you should know:
Candle Terms and Definitions
The liquified wax, appearing as the candle burns.
When we refer to the melt pool or "wax pool" of a candle, we're often talking about the depth and diameter of the melted wax. If you notice your melt pool looks uneven or wonky, you may want to consult our candle care guide for tips.
It's important to understand that different types of candle wax can have a different melt point.
The size and shape of the candle's vessel – and whether the appropriate size candle wick was used – can also impact the time it takes to achieve a full melt pool. (More on these terms in a moment!)
The ingredients which make up a fragrance and its qualities.
Candle fragrances can consist of any number of top notes, heart or middle notes, and base notes. The combinations are, quite literally, endless!
Here's the short version:
- Top notes are typically the initial impression, the first scents you pick up on after lighting. (These notes can also be detected before the candle is lit, see "cold throw.")
- Middle notes are the heart of the fragrance, adding depth beyond that first sniff and lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour.
- Base notes form the fragrance's foundation and (ideally) complement the other notes. These scents tend to linger the longest, even hours after you've extinguished your candle.
(There's sooo much more to say about fragrance notes, of course. Stay tuned for another more in-depth post on the topic coming soon.)
The perceived "strength" of a candle's fragrance before lighting.
Generally, you'll be able to pick up on some (if not most) of the candle's "top notes" by smelling the cold wax. You'll sometimes see cold throw abbreviated as CT.
The perceived "strength" of a candle's fragrance while lit.
This is when you should be able to pick up on the rest of the candle's notes. In this case, the "throw" can also refer to how the fragrance fills the room. You'll sometimes see hot throw abbreviated as HT.
A frustrating phenomenon in which the candle's "melt pool" doesn't reach the edge of the vessel, creating a tunnel-like hole in the wax. This is often due to a too-short burn time.
Tunneling is visually unappealing and thankfully, easy enough to avoid. Read our candle care guide for tips on how to prevent candles from tunneling.
A fancy way of referring to the container in which candle wax has been poured.
Container candles are very popular right now, so candle vessels come in all sorts of varieties, shapes, and sizes.
Amber glass jars (like the ones we use for our signature, travel inspired scented candles) are among the most loved. Other common container candle vessels include painted glass, ceramics, stoneware, concrete, and travel-sized tins.
Not all candles have to come in a vessel, though. There's also tapered candles, pillar candles, trendy body shaped candles and bubble candles... and even wax melts.
Aside from fragrance oils, the candle wax is one of the most essential candle making supplies. After all, it's the foundation upon which the entire candle is made.
Different types of wax hold fragrance differently and burn at a different pace.
Some of the most common types of candle wax are:
- Soy wax
- Paraffin wax
- Coconut wax
- Wax blends
Want to know the best wax for scented candles? Read all about why we love coconut wax candles and coconut wax blends.
These are places where the candle wax has pulled away slightly from the edges of the vessel.
Wet spots are common and (try as we might) pretty much unavoidable for all candle makers, including the industry's biggest names. Know that wet spots are not indicative of a candle's performance or quality.
The item at every candle's core, designed to carry flame to liquid wax.
Wicks come in a number of varieties and everyone has their own preference. While we do love a wooden wick for their crackling effect, we use lead-free cotton wicks for our signature candle collection.