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Candle Companies Should Use Terpenes Instead of Synthetic Fragrances

When thoughtfully crafted, candles provide scent, light, and ambiance. Synthetic fragrances, however, can pose major problems. Read on and discover why candle companies should use terpenes instead of synthetic fragrances.

Some consumers use candles on special occasions. Others have candles in every room and light them as part of their daily routine. Either way, candles are meant to accomplish the same three things--light, scent, and ambiance. 

Obviously, candles provide illumination, but one of their biggest selling points is their scent and ability to set a mood. Much like good lighting, the right scent can have a major impact on your mood and energy levels. Some scents enliven our senses and energize us, while others soothe and relax. When synthetic fragrances are used, however, both the scent and overall effect of a candle can be ruined. 

Fortunately, terpenes provide authentic scents and desirable effects without the drawbacks of synthetic fragrances. Read on and learn more about why candle companies should use terpenes instead of synthetic fragrances.

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Why Candle Companies Should Use Terpenes Instead of Synthetic Fragrances

Anxious to get to the details? Here’s the gist of what we’ll cover today...

  • When a label says “fragrance” or “parfum,” that can actually include thousands of different chemicals, and some of them have been linked to serious health risks. 
  • Brands don’t include this information because their unique fragrance mixtures are trade secrets. But it’s also because consumers don’t want to use fragranced products with harmful ingredients. 
  • Consumer trends are changing. Buyers prefer functional ingredients with added benefits that contribute to overall wellness. They want real results via real ingredients.
  • Many ingredients in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum. Some of these are known carcinogens and have been linked to hormone disruption, allergic reactions, neurotoxicity, and central nervous system disorders.
  • These fragrances may also contain additional ingredients like solvents, stabilizers, UV-absorbers, preservatives, and dyes.
  • Sometimes synthetic fragrances undergo changes when exposed to heat that end up creating undesirable scents. This creates a negative consumer experience.
  • When properly used, terpenes provide sensational aroma and desirable effects (energy, relaxation, etc.) without the same drawbacks that synthetic fragrances have. 

Labels Rarely Tell the Whole Story

The wide variety of products that contain synthetic fragrances is staggering. You can find these ingredients in dryer sheets, shampoo, cosmetics, detergents, and more. Seriously, take a look at the ingredient list of some of your household products and you’ll likely see “fragrance” or “parfum” listed. While that doesn’t sound particularly worrying, these are actually umbrella terms that cover thousands of different ingredients. It’s these hidden ingredients that you need to worry about. 

The International Fragrance Association includes over 3,000 different materials that may be used in a fragrance mixture. What’s concerning is that a large portion of these ingredients are made from petroleum and have been linked to serious health issues. Some are derived from known carcinogens and others have been linked to allergic reactions, respiratory distress, central nervous system disorders, and even reproductive toxicity. 

Part of the reason you don’t see these ingredients on labels is because a brand might consider their unique fragrance mixture a trade secret. Another, perhaps more important reason, is that consumers don’t like the idea of using products with these ingredients

Consumers prefer products without synthetic fragrances - Abstrax Tech

Consumers Prefer Products Without Synthetic Fragrances

One study published by Air Quality, Atmosphere, & Health found that fragranced products did in fact trigger health issues. What’s even more interesting, however, were their findings related to public perceptions of fragrance. A survey of 1,136 adults showed that over two-thirds weren’t aware that fragranced products included hazardous ingredients. In addition, “over 60% would not continue to use a fragranced product if they knew it emitted such pollutants.”

Not only can these ingredients be absorbed directly through the skin (via topical products), but they can also be inhaled. So, just because you’re not spraying perfume directly onto your skin doesn’t mean you’re avoiding the risks associated with these ingredients. Even something as simple as a candle may pose some risk if it’s infused with synthetic fragrances.

The exact level of that risk is still being debated. One study showed that under normal circumstances candles don’t pose much risk. Normal circumstances, however, imply that a room is well ventilated and the candle is only burned occasionally. For consumers who like to burn candles every day, this is a problem. Plus, other studies do show that fragranced candles can emit hazardous chemicals. Either way, one thing is clear. Consumers don’t want to use products with hazardous ingredients, no matter how small the risks may be.

Consumers Want Products That Contribute to Overall Wellness

In the past, our sense of smell wasn’t often in the spotlight. In 2011, a survey of 7000 people illustrated this point pretty clearly. Over half of those surveyed between the ages of 16 and 22 “said they would rather give up their sense of smell than give up their technology.” However, our understanding of this particular sense has grown leaps and bounds since then.

In fact, a key topic at the 2019 Global Wellness Summit was the importance of our sense of smell and the need for a wellness makeover in the fragrance world. More and more research is showing how integral scent is to the human experience. This has prompted an explosion of scent exploration that’s unlike anything we’ve seen in the past. From multisensory art installations to studies researching scent as medicine, scent is quickly taking its rightful place as one of our most important and fascinating senses. From a consumer perspective, the beauty industry emphasizes this point in powerful ways. 

Personal care products are often some of the most guilty when it comes to synthetic fragrances, but consumer concerns are changing that. Instead of masking or hiding issues, consumers want products and services that provide a multifaceted approach to health and beauty. That’s one of the driving factors behind the functional ingredient trend. In 2020, Mintel observed consumer behavior and found that “While health will remain at the forefront as this trend evolves, consumers will begin to seek additional added benefits that relate to their outer appearance and inner emotional wellbeing.”

Basically, consumers want real results via real ingredients. That means as we grow our understanding of scent, synthetic fragrances just won’t cut it. If consumers are looking for functional ingredients that contribute to overall wellness, any ingredient that hinders wellness becomes a problem. And synthetic fragrances absolutely include ingredients that can hinder wellness. Candle companies that don’t capitalize on this trend will quickly lose consumer confidence and miss out on massive growth opportunities.

Synthetic Fragrances Often Rely on Ingredients Derived from Petroleum

The list of petrochemicals is long. Technically, paraffin wax and even mineral oil are derived from petroleum. While their use is widespread, some petrochemicals pose serious health concerns. Phthalates, for example, are used to help fragrances last longer. Sounds perfectly harmless, right? Well, this petroleum-derived ingredient has actually been banned in many countries because of the many harmful effects it’s been linked to (certain cancers, endocrine disruption, etc.). 

Benzene derivatives, aldehydes, and toluene are just some of the common petrochemicals used in synthetic fragrances. Benzene derivatives, in particular, are often classified as carcinogens, while other petrochemicals are linked to hormone disruption, allergic reactions, neurotoxicity, and central nervous system disorders.

Terpenes provide authentic and enjoyable fragrances and effects for candles - Abstrax Tech

Synthetic Fragrances May Also Include Other Undesirable Compounds

Synthetic fragrances can sometimes also include solvents, stabilizers, UV-absorbers, preservatives, and dyes. These additional items are sometimes included on a label, but not always. While they don’t sound harmful and actually serve important practical purposes, they’re not without their risks.

Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, for example, is a common UV filter or absorber that protects fragrances from sun degradation. Unfortunately, it’s also been shown to disrupt endocrine function which can cause hormonal imbalances and thyroid issues. Benzyl Benzoate is used as both a solvent and preservative, but can cause allergic reactions and possible immune system toxicity. 

Synthetic Fragrances Can Create Undesirable Scents When Burned

Yes, you read that right. The very reason consumers often gravitate to a specific candle is its scent, but that doesn’t mean that’s how it will smell once it’s actually lit. Perhaps you’ve even experienced this for yourself. You fall in love with a candle scent, but when you get it home and light it...it’s not what you were expecting. This type of negative consumer experience will keep first-time buyers from becoming repeat customers. 

The chemicals that can be used in synthetic fragrances sometimes undergo changes when they’re heated. This isn’t even that complicated of a concept. For example, certain foods can taste or smell different at different stages of cooking. Obviously, we’re talking about candles and not bacon, but the concept is the same. As the flame melts the wax and heats the fragrance oils, the chemicals undergo changes that can alter aromatic compounds. 

Create Safe, Enjoyable Candle Scents and Effects With Terpenes

Sensorial experiences are our passion. That’s why we’re the leader in botanical terpene extraction, research, and why we use the most advanced 3D analysis from flower to essential oil. Terpene science is broadening our understanding of flavor, aroma, and the effects that aromatic compounds can have on us. That’s why we want to promote both terpene education and safety. 

We carefully source our ingredients to ensure the highest purity and we never use solvents or fillers because potency matters. Not only can we provide finished terpene blends, but we also partner with brands to create custom terpene formulations. These can be chemovar specific, flavor/aroma, or even mood oriented.

No matter what though, we want to make sure that brands understand how to use terpenes safely and effectively. If you’re interested in creating candles with our terpenes, contact us today. Plus, feel free to follow us on Instagram so you can join our community and get all the latest updates.

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