While looking at candles (or other fragranced items, such as perfume) you read something like top notes, mid notes, base notes. Lets use one of our candles as an example. The name of the candle is Earl Grey & Lavender Creme. While the name gives a pretty good depiction of the smell, you can dive deeper into the fragrance profile and see where each scent lies. For this particular fragrance the top notes are brewed black tea, roasted chestnuts and fresh cream. The middle notes are lavender bunches & chopped pine. Lastly, the bottom notes are blooming neroli and grated orange peel. Now that we have painted the picture, lets talk about the distinction between top, middle, and bottom notes, and how we experience them...
Here at Lit Rituals, we like to refer to these categories of scents as the Head (Top), Heart (Middle), and Legs (Bottom), and these depend on which scents are prominent at specific points during the candle’s burn time and how long the scents last until they evaporate.
The Head, or the top fragrance notes, are the ones that you can smell first and they are also the ones that evaporate the quickest. They are typically lighter scents, and tend to fade between 5-15 minutes after lighting the candle. After they fade, the scents are still present in combination with the next layer of notes, but not as prominent as they were at the beginning. The main job of the Head notes in a candle is to introduce the fragrance profile and lead the way towards more full-bodied scents in the Heart and Legs. Common top notes include: citruses, aromatics, and light florals.
The Heart, or the middle fragrance notes, become most noticeable after the head fragrances have evaporated. They also last for a longer time, typically 20-60 minutes. The Heart usually has the “main” fragrances the creator wants to be noticed within a candle. The scents involved are typically stronger and not quite as light or fresh as the Head notes. Typical Heart notes include: stronger florals, fruits, or spicier scents like cinnamon or pepper.
The Legs, or the bottom fragrance notes, are bolder and last the longest. They are typically what lingers after you have burned your candle for a while, or after you have blown it out. They round out the fragrance profile and typically consist of scents like musk, tree fragrances (sandalwood, cedarwood, oak, etc.), amber, or vanilla.
It is important to note that where specific scents can be typically used in one note category, depending on the fragrance itself and what it is paired with, it can be categorized differently. It is not always set in stone that a particular scent is a Head, Heart, or Legs.
Together, these elements make up a beautiful, complex fragrance profile. Keep an eye out for the different notes within your candles, and see if you can identify the different layers as they burn!