Behind the Scenes: How Our Candle Fragrances Are Made

Welcome to another Behind the Scenes with The Outer Banks Candle Company! Before we dive into how our candle fragrances are made, I have to mention some of the inspiration behind the candles and specifically, the signature fragrances we create.

I love the artistry involved in our candle-making process… mixing colors, choosing vessels, creating new designs, & maybe most of all: developing a wide range of unique, signature fragrances. I am inspired by the colors of the coast, the ocean’s treasures (sea glass, shells, driftwood), the changing of the tides & the seasons, and the emotions and memories that are stirred by time spent at the beach.

All of this comes to life when we talk about developing new fragrances!

Our Signature Frangrances

At The Outer Banks Candle Company, our list of signature fragrances is ever-growing and evolving with the seasons. Since the beach and the peacefulness of the coast are a large part of what inspires our scents, it’s only natural that our signature fragrances change like the tides and the seasons at the beach!

In the spring and summer, our candles are meant to evoke memories of your favorite sunny beach vacation or a peaceful walk by the shore, with fragrances like:

Outer Banks Waves photo by Amanda Hedgepeth.
Photo by Amanda Hedgepeth

Some of these candles even stick around all year because who doesn’t need to be reminded of their happy beach vacay on a cold February day?!

Seasonal Candle Fragrances

When the seasons change and it’s time to grab a warm drink for an evening beach bonfire, we have created a special batch of seasonal candle fragrances to match that season, like:

And the new Maple Bourbon (coming soon for Fall 2022)! Be sure to sign up for our Candle Fam Newsletter to get on our launch list for new candle fragrances and returns of past favorites!

Our Fragrance Families

Our special candle fragrances are broken up into the following FRAGRANCE FAMILIES:


As you can imagine, some of the candles overlap into more than one category. Each category guides us in deciding what type of signature scent we want to create!

Kimber with her 110 lb wax melter, heat gun, and precision scale used to make scented candle fragrances.

How We Create Our Signature Scents

The first step in creating our signature scents is INSPIRATION

I am often inspired by a special experience or memory, or by something beautiful or peaceful at the beach that I would like to capture into a candle. Have you ever wished you could capture a special moment, a place in time, a picture in your memory, or the scent of something lovely and bottle it up so you don’t have to let it go?

Well, that’s what I’m talking about! My inspiration is what led me to start creating my own candles and fragrances Let’s pick a couple of our signature scents to use as examples of the process…

Our Inspiration for Pineapple Mint

PINEAPPLE MINT is one of my favorites! I was inspired to create this candle during a HOT, sunny, summer day on the beach. With my water bottle in hand, I was wishing for something a little more tropical and a lot more refreshing!

PINEAPPLE MINT: Sweet & tropical, juicy PINEAPPLE… followed by soft notes of fresh green MINT!

I started to imagine the perfect drink to match this lovely day at the beach… Something cool, fresh, sweet like summer, topped with a sprig of earthy goodness (like MINT!) I started to experiment with the oils of sweet fruits and fresh herbs… and eventually, Pineapple Mint was born!

Popular Pineapple Mint Scented Candles

Our Inspiration for Driftwood Vanilla

DRIFTWOOD VANILLA is another favorite! This candle was inspired by my long walks at the shore, searching for beach treasures.

Driftwood is always a cherished find, sometimes large portions of entire trees that wash up, worn and smooth (these make great props for a candle photoshoot!) Other times the wood is so tumbled by the waves that it’s small like pebbles.

Driftwood often leaves me wondering about the former life of these wood fragments… were the pieces of the local Outer Banks piers broken off in a storm, or even the remnants of a shipwreck? Barrels of rum or dry goods? What kind of wood… cedar, mahogany?

And so I began to experiment with the oils of rich woods such as Cedar, Birch, and Teak, and later decided it needed a touch of vanilla to round it… and there we have it:

DRIFTWOOD VANILLA:  A blend of fresh HARDWOODS, followed by soft notes of aged VANILLA!

Drifwood Vanilla Mason Jar Collection scented candles from The Outer Banks Candle Company in sizes small, medium, and large

Popular Driftwood Vanilla Scented Candles

Supplies for Making Candle Scents

Over the years, I have joked that I often feel like a MAD SCIENTIST as a candle maker with all the supplies I use for making candles and scents! This is especially true when it comes to developing new fragrances. So much measuring, mixing, and testing, over and over and over!

The scent creation process requires a sampling of fine fragrance oils, a scientific scale, proper wax to fragrance oil ratios, and a lot of patience. While all this might make the process sound easy, it is actually a LONG process of experimentation, trial and error, sometimes with as many as a hundred samples and revisions over the course of many months, for every single new candle scent. A labor of love, for sure!

And after many years of this mad science, I have gained an understanding of which fragrances complement one another well and the complexities of layering fragrance notes to achieve just the right balance in the finished product. 

Fragrance Oils

For this process, we use only the highest quality fragrance oils. These oils contain no carcinogens, reproductive toxins, or other harsh chemicals. Many of the oils we use are infused with essential oils, but there is a reason that pure essential oils are not typically well-suited for candles.

Unlike fragrance oils, essential oils oftentimes have very low flash points which cause them to evaporate when added to hot candle wax. This in turn minimizes the scent throw of candles made with essential oils.

Our fragrance oils contain (safe) “carrier oils” to help “carry” the fragrance under the heated conditions of a burning candle. In simple terms, this is referred to as a “fragrance throw” (and you want your candle to have it so that a delightful scent can fill the room!)

Jugs of our special candle fragrance oils at the studio.
My ever-changing cabinet of fragrance samples.
Our Fragrance Load Process

Finding the “sweet spot” of the fragrance oil to candle wax ratio is also an important part of the process known as the “fragrance load”. Too little fragrance oil and your scented candle can be underwhelming (ever had that problem??) But too much oil and the wax will sweat it out before you even light it!

After years of experimentation, we have found that sweet spot… filling each candle with as much delicious fragrance as the wax can hold! Our fragrance load process produces a candle with a strong cold throw, as well as a hot throw.

This means that many times, you don’t even have to light your candle to enjoy its fragrance throughout the room, but light it up and the wonderful fragrance “throws” even further and stronger!

Stirring the candle fragrance oil into the wax.

Naming Our New Candle Fragrances

Sometimes these candles name themselves. The name is sometimes a part of the original inspiration and I find myself creating a candle to live up to a name like Beachy Peachy!

Other times the name comes later after much experimentation and evolution, at which point we brainstorm names, adjectives, and descriptions.

We bounce around lots of ideas and are often torn on this question: Is it better for the name to be purely descriptive, or less descriptive and more fun and creative?? The jury’s still out, and so we do both :)

Fragrances in the Candle-Making Process

As you can see, creating new fragrances is a big part of the candle-making process, blending both creativity and science. You can read more about the rest of the candle-making process here.

So much love, time, and attention go into the process of developing each signature candle fragrance, from the first inspiration to the final product! And we will always be devoted to this, believing that the right candle can evoke the same peace, joy, and simplicity that inspired it.

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