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candle making 101: hot throw Achieving a strong hot throw is the ultimate goal for many candle makers, but it’s sometimes a frustrating and confusing journey.

What is hot throw?

Hot throw: The term used to describe the strength of fragrance while a candle is burning. This evaluation is typically done after the candle has been burning for at least two hours but no more than four. 

Cold throw: In contrast, describes the strength of fragrance before a candle has been burned for the first time. It’s commonly said that cold throw wins customers, while hot throw keeps them coming back.

Top 6 tips for impressive hot throw

Let’s go over our favorite tips to help conquer your hot throw woes!  

1. Add fragrance oil to wax at 185°F

  • Fragrance oil needs to properly bind with wax to throw fragrance.
  • Making sure your wax is hot enough before adding fragrance oil is one of the best ways you can help ensure a strong bond.
  • You can even bump the temperature of your wax up to 190°F—this can be especially helpful for particularly dense fragrance oils.

2. Thoroughly stir fragrance oil and wax

  • Stirring your fragrance oil and wax thoroughly is another way to help ensure a strong bond.
  • Begin slowly stirring immediately after adding fragrance oil to wax and continue for two minutes, or until you reach the desired pour temperature.
  • Right before pouring, stir again—this is particularly important for waxes that need time to cool to the pour temperature. 

3. Test different fragrance loads

  • Adding more fragrance oil to your wax isn’t always the best way to achieve a stronger hot throw.
  • Start with 1-2% lower than the maximum fragrance load of your wax, then adjust as necessary. For example, if your wax has a 10% maximum fragrance load, start with 8%.
  • Starting a little lower is a great way to avoid overloading your wax with fragrance oil, which can cause a whole host of performance issues. Candles overloaded with fragrance oil just don’t burn as well, so they won’t throw fragrance as well.  

4. Weigh supplies on a scale

  • Candle making formulas use weight measurements, so always weigh wax and fragrance oil on a scale.
  • Make sure your scale is set to the correct unit. We typically use ounces for candle making in the United States, but any unit of weight is fine as long as you pick one and stick to it.
  • Watch out for the fluid ounce (fl. oz.) setting on some scales. Ounces measure weight, fluid ounces measure volume.
  • Avoid measuring cups and spoons, as they measure volume.

5. Perfect your melt pool

  • A full melt pool is fundamental to a strong hot throw, so take time to choose the best wick for your candle.
  • Always reevaluate your candles when you adjust any components of your candles, even seemingly insignificant changes can affect the burn. For example, a Straight Sided Tumbler, 464 Soy Wax, and CD 18 wick may burn perfectly with 8% Citrus Agave fragrance oil, but using 8% Very Vanilla might result in a less-than-ideal burn.
  • For help with wicking, get started with the Candle Wick Guide. Or, learn how to burn test like a pro with our “How to Conduct a Basic Burn Test” guide.

6. Diameter matters

  • The larger the candle’s melt pool, the stronger the hot throw will be.
  • Containers with larger diameters allow for larger melt pools, so sizing up your container is a simple way to size up your hot throw.
  • If you’re unhappy with your hot throw after trying (what feels like) everything, consider testing wider containers.

Prep for success

Even perfectly made candles sometimes disappoint hot throw aficionados. Set yourself up for success by keeping these key points in mind. 

Think of candle making as baking, not cooking.

  • It’s fine to play around with recipes and eyeball measurements when cooking, but baking requires precision to achieve the desired outcome.
  • Be as precise as possible when measuring, checking temperatures, and following directions.
  • Keep a notepad and pen handy to record the weights of supplies used, pour temp, type of supplies used, and anything differences you notice. 

Get to know your wax.

  • Always familiarize yourself with the properties of your wax before making candles.
  • Note the maximum fragrance load, be mindful of cure time requirements, and suggested wick series. In general, paraffin waxes need to cure for 3-5 days, while soy and other natural waxes should cure for at least 1-2 weeks. 

Thoughtfully select supplies. 

  • Paraffin wax is the best option if super-strong hot throw is your ultimate goal.
  • Just as artists select different materials for different goals, candle makers can use different waxes to achieve different goals. Can you achieve a strong hot throw with soy wax? Absolutely—but it may take more testing, fragrance oil, wider containers, and experience.
  • Some beginners feel frustrated when their soy candles have a weaker hot throw than store-bought candles, only to realize later that many store-bought candles are made with paraffin or paraffin blends.
  • Try a paraffin blend wax if 100% paraffin waxes aren’t appealing to you.

Set expectations accordingly.

  • Some uncontrollable variables impact our perception of hot throw, so get scientific with your testing! Don’t get discouraged until you burn your candle in a few different settings and get opinions from a few different people.
  • Environmental variables like high ceilings, humidity levels, drafty rooms, and other factors can affect the way hot throw is perceived.
  • No two people have the same sense of smell. The same person’s perception of smell can even change due to certain medications, hormonal changes, illnesses (looking at you, Covid), and nose blindness. If you've been working with the same fragrance for some time, it likely smells weaker to you than others. 
  • Expecting a 1.5 inch diameter candle to fill a large room with strong scent will likely lead to disappointment. Likewise, expecting a soy candle to be just as strong as a paraffin candle may lead to frustration.
  • Setting realistic expectations is the best way to begin your hot throw evaluation and avoid frustration. 

Go forth and whoa with your hot throw

Many of the tips that increase hot throw strength also improve the overall performance of your candles. We can often be our harshest critics, so be mindful that mastering anything is often a learning experience. Every candle you make—strong hot throw or not—is a step in the right direction.