What Are Top, Middle, and Base Notes in Candles? – LA JOLIE MUSE

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What Are Top, Middle, and Base Notes in Candles?

  • Posted by La Jolie Muse  

The Power Of Fragrance Notes

A well-rounded scent is like a symphony: balanced, pleasing, and designed to evoke a specific feeling or place. Sophisticated, romantic, whimsical, a wintry forest, a seaside walk, a smoky temple…

From wax melts to eau de parfum to your morning coffee, you inhale dozens of scents every day. But what makes a scent truly enjoyable isn’t just the type of perfume or candle brand, but the notes.

Top notes, middle notes, and base notes…you’ve probably heard of these terms before (or read them on the back of a perfume box) but what do they mean?

The Secret To A Stunning Scent

Blue glass jar candle in water with flowers

In general, perfumes and scented candles have their own olfactory pyramid (or fragrance pyramid) composed of top, middle, and base notes. 

Much like music, your favorite candle fragrances are composed of perfume notes that are combined for the perfect aromatic harmony. 

Natural essential oil blends make fantastic candle scent combinations, but synthetic scent notes are an excellent option. It’s natural to assume that only natural ingredients make the best types of fragrance, but man-made notes are the best cruelty-free alternative when your preferred fragrance originally used expensive, animal-derived ingredients (like musk and ambergris). 

The Art Of Candle Making

Glass candle jar close up with pink flowers

While adding fragrance oils to wax sounds simple, candle-making is an underappreciated art to the uninitiated. 

What makes a good scent combination for candles? This is the question candle makers are always trying to answer with each artistic creation. 

Making candles doesn’t stop at understanding the levels of fragrance, but requires a thorough understanding of wax types, wax temperatures, burn times, and so much more.

Top Notes

Glass Damask rose candle on books with roses

Have you ever smelled a fragrance and immediately fallen in love? That’s because of the top notes.

Also known as head notes, the top notes are the opening act and are the first thing you smell when trying a fragrance. Whether you’re attracted or repelled by a scent is often because of the top notes. Top notes are usually fresh, elevating, and have the smallest molecules, so they’re the most volatile and evaporate quickly. 

Alluring you with a scent is one half of the top note’s job: the other half is smoothly transitioning to the mid notes of the fragrance. 

Common notes: bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, berries, lavender, rose.

Mid Notes

Brown glass Moroccan amber candle with tulle background

As the top notes fade, the full-bodied mid notes present themselves as the more dominant aroma…

Also known as heart notes, mid notes last longer than top notes and have a strong influence on the base notes. Complex, deep, and designed to give a lasting impression, mid notes are the heart of the fragrance and provide a balance between the top and bottom notes. 

They’re not as strong as top notes but are the personality of the fragrance, like the chorus of a song. Memorable, prominent, and the star of the show.

Common notes: geranium, rose, ylang ylang, jasmine, cinnamon, pepper, cardamom, violet.  

Base Notes

Woody Leather tin candle with wooden spoon on felt background

Also known as dry notes, base notes are often deep, rich, and calming. Unlike top or mid notes, base notes linger the longest and anchor the fragrance for a more complex scent. Many base notes are sweet, warm, and spicy—like musk, sandalwood, vanilla, and oud. 

While the top and middle notes are considered the most notable, base notes are the underlying aroma throughout the scent. Base notes have the largest molecules, so they evaporate slowly and linger in the air even after you’ve blown out your candle.

Common notes: vanilla, patchouli, musk, amber, balms, moss, woody.

Aromatic appeal requires balance and craftsmanship. If you’re looking to be surprised and delighted by unique fragrance notes, our high-quality non-toxic candles are made from natural wax, are cruelty-free, and are safe around kids and pets. 

From nifty metal tins to decadent decorative glass jars with 90 hours of burn time, you can transport yourself anywhere—from a wintry forest to a bright lemon grove—with a variety of scents that have been meticulously tested for excellent burn times, a clean, safe wax blend, and a generous scent throw that fills your home. 


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