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Candles 101: Top, Mid, & Base Notes

We have started to call out the various individual fragrance notes that build our amazing Milkhouse scents so you know what makes up the complete fragrance.  There are several ways to refer to them, but we like to say Top Notes, Middle (or Mid) Notes, and Base or Bottom Notes.

Top Notes

The Top notes are the first impression notes.  These are the ones you catch on your very first sniff when you take off the lid, and what you smell during the first part of your burn.  These notes evaporate the quickest.  Common top notes are lighter, such as citrus, bergamot, and lavender.

Middle Notes

The Middle notes (sometimes also called heart notes) are more noticeable and complete and make up much of the overall fragrance.  These fragrance notes are complex and full-bodied that develop as the candle burns.  They mix well with the top notes as those start to fade and then tend to hang around a little longer. Common mid notes are florals, like jasmine and neroli, and some pines and spices.

Base Notes

The base notes aren’t always pretty on their own but as they meld with the middle notes they start to shine as the candle continues to burn. These notes are what give the candle and your room a lasting fragrance.  They’re rich, heavier notes that add depth to the fragrance and linger after the candle has been extinguished. Popular base notes include vanilla, amber, musk, and woods, such as cedar or sandalwood.

Different Crystal Structures Within Candles

True to their names, top, mid, and base elements have crystal structures that differ.

  • Top notes are lighter and tend to float to the top of a candle poured in natural soy.
  • Base notes are heavier and tend to drop to the bottom.
  • Soy wax is pure and leaves little for the fragrance notes to hold on to during the curing process, which can sometimes allow the fragrance to separate after the candle is poured.
  • You may have experienced some soy candles in the market where the scent has changed as the candle burns down, or the flame-height is shorter toward the bottom of the jar.  This is often caused by fragrance note migration.


Achieving Consistent Fragrance Throw

So how does Milkhouse get such a consistent fragrance throw from the first light to the last flame? We start with the best fragrances available, make sure they are based on natural components that blend well with our wax, and we pour very cool.  This allows Milkhouse candles to hold their top, mid, and base notes merrily in suspension while the candle cures.  It’s not an easy process, nor is it fast, but it’s SO worthwhile.


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