9 Types of Candle Scents (and The Materials They Use)

Scented candles play a crucial role in creating the right ambiance and atmosphere in an interior space. Scents have the ability to take our minds to a certain place or to influence how we think, so it makes perfect sense that they would be used in interior design to encourage us to feel a particular way.

When it comes to choosing a fragrance for candles in your home, you first need to understand the different types of scents available and the kind of energy they create. This will allow you to match the right scent to different rooms in your home, depending on how you want those rooms to feel.

There are three types of scented oils used in the making of a scented candle which turn it from an ordinary unscented candle to a scented one. These are standard fragrance oils, essential oils, and natural oils.

Each of these types of oils has advantages and disadvantages, which you should consider before purchasing your scented candles. Many people do not realize there is a difference in the types of oils used in scented candles, and this can result in them burning candles that were made in a way that does not align with their needs or views.

Standard Fragrance Oils

Standard Fragrance Oils

These types of oils are synthetic and therefore are produced in a lab using aroma compounds. Most scented candles are made with this type of oil because it is the most cost-effective, and it has a longer-lasting scent compared to essential oils.

Because they are manmade, standard fragrance oils are also available in a huge and complex selection of scents. The drawback of standard fragrance oils is that they contain chemicals that some people may be sensitive to, including parabens and phthalates, which can cause health problems. Many standard fragrance oils are also not cruelty-free and test on animals.

Essential Oils

Essential Oils

Essential oils are completely natural and are extracted from various parts of plants, including leaves, bark, and roots. They contain no additives at all and have distinctive, strong scents. Many essential oils are believed to have therapeutic effects, and when used in scented candles, they are an easy way for people to experience aromatherapy in their own homes.

Essential oils are expensive compared to the other types of oils used in candle making, and this can make them inaccessible to some as the resulting scented candles will have a high price tag. Essential oils also offer limited scents because they are derived from certain plants.

Natural Oils

Natural fragrance oils are made by extracting one single scented component from a plant. These components are known as natural isolates, and they can be used to replicate essential oils. Natural oils may be made from one single natural isolate or several natural isolates blended together.

Like standard fragrance oils, natural oils are made in a controlled environment, but they are made from something natural rather than something synthetic. This means that they will not contain any potentially harmful chemicals like parabens, and the vast majority of natural oils are cruelty-free.

They are much more affordable than essential oils and are available in a much wider scent selection than essential oils because they are made from a greater variety of plants. The big drawback of natural oils is that they do not offer the aromatherapy benefits you would get from essential oils.

Types of Scents

When it comes to the types of scents used in scented candles, these can be broken down into several categories. To choose a scented candle for your home, you should work out the appropriate type of scent and then choose a candle using signature notes from that category. For example, in a bedroom, you might want to encourage a feeling of relaxation, which could be achieved with a woody or earthy scent.

In a kitchen, a fresh or citrus scent may work better as these promote energy and a feeling of cleanliness. As well as choosing a scented candle for a specific room, you can also choose particular candles for an occasion. For example, a romantic meal would be enhanced by a floral or exotic scent, while a festive occasion would be well suited to a spicy and sweet-scented candle.

Some signature notes can overlap and be found in several categories, such as vanilla which is exotic, masculine, and spicy, and sweet. Pay attention to the composition of scents in a scented candle to understand which is the dominant scent and what type of mood it will encourage when used in a room.


Fresh scents are those which make you feel energized and uplifted. They have a clean, vibrant aroma that works well in kitchens, bathrooms, and dressing rooms. Fresh scents commonly used in scented candles include rosemary, lime, bergamot, eucalyptus, grapefruit, lemongrass, citronella, tangerine, and sage.


Woody scents are those which are associated with the outdoors; think mossy mountainsides and pine needle woodlands. These types of scents all have an earthy aroma that elicits feelings of peace and comfort.

A scented candle made with woody scents would be the perfect partner for snuggling up on the sofa on a cold night or light this type of scented candle during after-dinner drinks in the dining room. Some popular woody scents include juniper, sandalwood, fir, balsam, pine, patchouli, willow bark, oak, and walnut.


Florals are the most popular scents for use in the home, including in candles, wax melts, room sprays, air fresheners, and diffusers. These scents are based on flowers and have soft and feminine aromas which have the effect of soothing and relaxing the mind and body.

Historically, flowers have been used for centuries to fragrance homes and hide unpleasant smells. Rose and lavender are the most common floral scents used in candles, but others include lilac, geranium, gardenia, chamomile, jasmine, calendula, peony, and ylang-ylang. As these are soft and romantic scents, they work well in bedrooms and bathrooms or on a dining table during an intimate meal.


Citrus scents have a bright and sharp scent that is energizing and uplifting. These types of scents are great for boosting your mood or helping you to wake up and feel ready to tackle the day. They are also good for making a space feel fresh and clean and therefore work well in kitchens and bathrooms or in common living areas like hallways and living rooms. Signature notes used in citrus-scented candles most commonly include lime, tangerine, lemon, and grapefruit.


Exotic scents are warm, luxurious, comforting, and indulgent. These scents are often based on deliciously edible notes, such as vanilla, honey, caramel, coffee, cinnamon, and chai. Exotic scents can be intoxicating, giving you a heady rush when inhaled.

They are the perfect types of scents to use at dinner parties or in the bedroom. Other notes in exotic scents include balsam, ginger, saffron, clove, rosewood, and anise.

Spicy and Sweet

Spicy and sweet scents have a lot of overlapping notes with exotic scents, but they are most evocative of fall and the festive season. Scented candles with spicy and sweet scents are most commonly sold in stores once the summer has ended, as they make us feel warm and cozy and help us transition into the next season.

They work well in almost any area of the home where you want to feel snug and safe, such as living rooms, bedrooms, and dining rooms. They are a great addition to table centerpieces during celebratory family meals at Thanksgiving or Christmas, helping to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Signature notes in spicy and sweet scents are cinnamon, amber, honey, sugar cane, vanilla, clove, anise, and pepper.


Masculine scents encompass deep, smoky aromas that you might expect to find in underground whisky bars or around a campfire. These scents have bold signature notes which you might associate with masculinity, such as tobacco and musk. Other keynotes in masculine scents are cedarwood, amber, vanilla, patchouli, and sandalwood.


Earthy scents have some overlap with woody scents because they both arouse thoughts of the great outdoors. Earthy scents are very grounding and can be helpful in encouraging a person’s ability to center themselves and focus. Scented candles with earthy notes are popularly used alongside practices such as meditation or yoga, as they inspire balance and strength.

They also work well in parts of the home where you want to encourage relaxation, such as the bedroom, bathroom, or living room. Common signature notes in earthy scents include myrrh, patchouli, balsam, fir, frankincense, and ginger.


Fruity scents are refreshing and sweet and are believed to be mood uplifting. They take their own category of scents separate from citrus because they tend to be less sharp and invigorating and instead have a more candy-like aroma.

Signature notes often found in fruity scents are peach, strawberry, apple, apricot, and cherry. These types of candle scents are ideal for kitchens and hallways, where you want the scent to be welcoming and cheerful.