Every item on this page was chosen by a Town & Country editor. We may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.

The Smell of Your Scented Candle Before It Burns? That's Called the Cold Throw

Plus a lesson on the fascinating science behind how a candle gives off its scent when lit.

image

Now that we’re spending a lot more time at home, we’re paying more attention to the little touches that can spark joy, bring comfort—and, well, make our little bubbles of socially distanced space smell heavenly. The star of this show is the scented candle: a quick scroll through Instagram, currently a window into our friends’ and colleagues’ living rooms, will reveal a thousand points of light.

A candle is going to emit its most robust fragrance when lit, but that doesn’t mean it can’t do its happy-making job just by sitting on your coffee table. The gorgeous aroma that a candle gives off when unlit? It has a name. In candle-making parlance, it's what's known as the “cold throw.”

(Are you picturing the withering look Bette Davis might shoot Joan Crawford? Me too.)

There's something to be said for that quiet ambience that a candle can create without the need for striking a match.

Some cold throws are more power than others, says Diptyque Marketing Director Eduardo Valadez. “Woody notes tend to need heat to release them, but a tuberose or gardenia candle is going to be quite diffusive even without a flame, just because white florals are so heady and intense.” And as anyone with an unlit Diptyque Ambre or Feu de Bois sitting around can attest, “you can also smell the more resinous, smoky candles quite well without burning them.”

There's something to be said for that quiet ambience that a candle can create without the need for striking a match. “Though of course," Valadez notes, "we would prefer you to burn them.”

A Diptyque candle, Valadez says, isn’t calibrated to throw scent a specific distance, whether alight or not—the quality of the fragrance, and its ability to remain true, is what matters most. “The alchemy lies in the thickness of the wick,” he says. “Every candle has its own very unique recipe of essential oils and a particular wick. The thickness of that wick determines how fast the wax burns. Some recipes need a slower burn in order for you to get the best impact, some need to burn faster in order to diffuse optimally.”

Currently, Diptyque is seeing a surge in sales of classics like Baies. “We generally see a shift when seasons change,” Valadez says, but in today’s unusual circumstances that might not be the case. “We all want to feel comforted right now. And scent is very powerful from a memory perspective. I think it’s important to burn something that’s going to make you feel tranquil and relaxed, give you a bit of that aromatherapy quality. It doesn’t matter if it’s seasonally appropriate—it should be whatever makes you feel good in the moment.”

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More From Home Decor