Fragrance Oils vs Essential Oils

Sandy Cadenhead, Harvest Glow LLC

This is an ongoing debate within the candle and bath/body industries as well as among consumers. To fully understand the debate you need to know the difference between fragrance and essential.


Fragrance oils are synthetic (man made); produced by chemists in laboratories. FDA lists guidelines for companies to follow in order to protect the consumer from toxic oils. The majority of candle fragrances are created using fragrance oils. There is no plant or bark that naturally smells like cotton candy.

Essential oils are derived from plant matter, such as the leaves, stems, flower buds, and bark. Orange or rosemary are naturally occuring scents produced from plants.

Which One is Better?

Fragrance oils come in a wide variety of choices to produce a variety of aromas. If you want the smell of beer or dirt, chemists have created it! The synthetic properties of the oil allow it to emit a strong scent at a reasonable price.

Essential oils are not as abdundant. Actually, a few oils are being over-harvested due to the rising demand of essential oils. It takes aout 30 rose petals to produce one tiny drop of rose oil! The process of extracting oil from the plant actually breaks down it's vitamin and nutrient benefits. Essential oils used in candles cannot be absorbed into the body, there are no known therapeutic benefits to burning a candle made with essential oils. Essential oils as well as fragrance oils are known to produce psychological effects that is some cases can be just as strong as the therapeutic effects.

Pure essential oils are great for aromatherapy when used in diffusers or massage aides. The price tag is fairly steep, however; rare essential oils are as much as a couple hundred per ounce! Fragrance oils can provide a stronger burning candle at a fraction of the cost.

It basically comes down to each individual's preference and use requirements.

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