“If you like the cold throw of this candle I am sure you will enjoy it even more after it is lit. This candle burns with an amazing hot throw where the choice of fragrance oil for the base note for this candle is very relaxing, it is simply perfect for…….” Saids the sales person in the fragrance store.
Have you ever wondered what they are talking about? What do they mean by the terms “Hot throw” and “Cold throw”? If you are a candle lover and often purchase candles then you should know these terms in-order to firstly, understand what the sales person is talk about. Secondly, make the right decisions to purchase the right candle.
In this article, we are going to discuss what is candle throw and why it is important. We will provide as much information as possible to our readers. At the end of the day a decision is as good as the information that you get.
Cold throw and Hot throw
These terms used to be jargon for connoisseurs in the candle making industry. Detail will be discussed in the latter as we go along, but to put it in layman terms, cold throw is the scent you smell from the candle when it is not lit. Hot throw on the other hand is when it is lit.
Why this phenomenon you might ask, the scent should be the same when I smell it and when I burn it. “Just because I like the cold throw of a candle. How am I to know before I make my purchasing decision whether if I like the hot throw when I am burning it? I am sure you can’t burn and test it before you buy it.” This is actually a valid point and I can tell you straight away the answer is you can’t, unless the candle that you are interested buying is made with only one fragrance base, meaning the candle will not have a base, middle, top note which is highly unlikely. The only way you can truly know if you like a scented candle is to buy it and try it. It is a trial and error process but that’s exactly what makes scented candle so interesting, you never exactly know what you have purchased or even like it without trying it. If you like it however is like hitting a jackpot and because there is no way to replicate an exact scent even for an experienced candle maker. you will have to stick with that particular scent and brand for the rest of your life.
Let’s dive deeper to this subject and take look at the science in-order to understand more about it. As you might know, scented candle usually mixed with different fragrance oils and concocted into a single scent with top, middle and base notes. All existing matters are made out of atoms and molecules, fragrance oil is no exception. Scent molecules escape from fragrance oil that is thoroughly mixed with wax into the air as a medium and eventually hit your olfactory sense, that’s how you can smell the lovely scents from the candle.
Top, mid, base note
Top, mid and base note of a scent are basically three categories to describe the amount of activation energy requires for the scent molecules to escape a substrate (Wax) and evaporate to the air.
Top note - usually involve molecules with lower mass or shorter molecular structure, little activation energy is required to escape the substrate.
Mid note - usually involve molecules with moderate mass or moderate molecular structure, moderate activation energy is required to escape the substrate.
Base note - usually involve molecules with heavier mass or long molecular structure, higher activation energy is required to escape the substrate.
We can also refer activation energy to heat, the minimum amount of energy is needed to excite molecules and provide enough molecular vibration so that they can escape the substrate to the medium.
I hope I have shed some light on you If you read till this point and realised how the whole cold and hot throw also how the Top, mid, base note work.
The cold throw of a candle is usually the top note of a scented candle which involve scent molecules that require little activation energy to escape to the medium. They escape to the air even in room temperature. The size of these molecules are relatively small and light so they can travel a long distance and so that’s the first scent you would smell when you pick it up off the store shelf . You might just be able to smell the mid note of a scented candle if you smell carefully, it would be subtle since the majority of molecules are trapped in the substrate with only some managed to escape. Base note however, requires higher activation energy to escape the substrate, this extra energy is provided by an open flame of the candle wick.
When the candle is lit, all scent molecules are provided with enough energy and released from the substrate into the air and turn into one scent, that would be the true scent of a candle. Depends on how well they disperse, sometimes you might smell one tone stronger than the other and that’s the fragrance layering of a scent.
There are four different components that can affect a candle’s hot throw, this is particular important since a strong cold throw of a candle doesn’t necessary mean it has a strong hot throw. These are as follows:
Wick - a suitable wick is vital for a good hot throw, it provides adequate amount of activation energy to release all scent molecules into the air. The heat from the flame also generate a current in the air to disperse the lovely scent into area where you put your candle. Please click here if you want to know more about candle wick.
Fragrance oil - the quality and quantity of fragrance oil will have a direct effect on candle throw. Some fragrance oil are more concentrated than others hence a more intense scent. One important note is that increasing the amount of fragrance oil doesn’t not guarantee a stronger scent. Saturate the wax with high mix of fragrance oil might even lead to the candle self extinguished.
Type of wax - the majority of ingredient of a candle is obviously wax, it act as a substrate to contain fragrance oil in a candle. Different wax have different properties and some wax can hold more fragrance oil than others. Please click here if you want to know more about different type of wax.
The size and shape of the container - the larger the container the more wax it can hold to give a longer burn time. Keep in mind that the bigger the surface area of which the wax can contact the air will give you a better cold and hot throw, it is all about the surface area.
Other ways to improve the hot throw of the candle are to avoid tunnelling, give the candle enough time to burn to achieve the largest wax pool possible so that more scent molecules can evaporate into the air.