Fragrance Oils – Frequently Asked Questions - Wholesale Supplies Plus

Fragrance Oils – Frequently Asked Questions

This article answers commonly asked questions on what Fragrance Oils are and how they are used.

Fragrance Oils – General Questions

What is a fragrance oil?
A liquid containing blended aromatic and non-aromatic ingredients. They can contain synthetic and/or natural essential oils.

What are fragrance notes and why are they important?
Fragrances are a combination of ingredients that unfold over time with an immediate top note, deeper middle note and final base note. 

Top notes are the aromas that are immediately perceived on application. Top notes consist of small, light molecules that are strong in scent and evaporate quickly. They form an initial impression. Top notes are usually described as “fresh,” “assertive” or “sharp.” Examples of top notes are citrus and ginger. 

Middle notes are the aromas that emerge just prior to when the top notes dissipate. Examples of middle notes are lavender and rose. 

Base notes are the aromas that appear close after the middle notes. Base notes consist of large, heavy molecules that evaporate slowly. They form the depth and main theme of the scent. Base notes are usually described as rich and deep. An example of a base note is musk.

Are fragrance oils natural or synthetic?
They can be either and can be both. There are totally synthetic fragrance oils. There are fragrance oils made with some natural essential oils and there are some fragrances that are made with 100% natural ingredients.

If a fragrance is 100% natural does that mean it is made with only essential oils?
It means that the fragrance is 100% natural. In recent years there has been great advancements in technology that has allowed us to obtain natural aromatic compounds that are not essential oils.

How do I find out the exact ingredients in my fragrance oil?
Fragrance oils are considered proprietary trademarks and protected by federal law. The exact ingredients are only known to the owner of the formulation.

What does proprietary mean?
The word proprietary indicates that a party has private ownership, control or use over an item of property.

What does trade secret mean?
A trade secret is information that is not generally known to the public and holds economic benefit to the owner.

What does flashpoint mean and why it is important?
The flashpoint of a flammable liquid is the lowest temperature at which it can form an ignitable mixture in air. It is important in air transportation due to air compression. At this temperature the vapor may cease to burn when the source of ignition is removed. 

Any fragrance or essential oil with a flashpoint 141º F or less can only fly if a hazmat certificate is filed. Any fragrance or essential oil with a flashpoint under 100º F must have a hazmat certificate filed for ground. USPS has further restrictions pertaining to the quantity of oil that can go in one box. Do you remember years ago when a plane exploded in air over the Florida Everglades? I believe they found that it was due to items in the cargo area that were undocumented with a low flashpoint. After that the FAA really cracked down. 

Flashpoint does not necessarily correlate with aromatic volatility. For example, there are many fragrances that have a lower flashpoint and perform wonderfully in bases with higher temperatures. This is because (assuming they are immediately and quickly incorporated into the base) the aromatics are trapped and they cannot molecularly move through the base. 

There are some oils with a low flashpoint that have a weakened scent when added to hot bases. This is more related to the aromatic volatility than flashpoint. For example, Frankincense has a flashpoint of 95º F and is thought to be fairly strong stays very strong in products such as cp soap while orange oil has a flashpoint around 115º and it weakens fairly quickly and significantly.

Some places carry manufacturers and cosmetic grade fragrance oils. What does this mean?
These are not industry terms but instead marketing terms. I would imagine that one grade is strong and another grade is diluted. Since Wholesale Supplies Plus only sells concentrated oils, you are best to call the place that sells different grades and ask them what they mean by these terms.

What are water soluble fragrance oils?
Water soluble fragrance oils are fragrances formulated to be easily incorporated into water based products.

Fragrance Oils – Business Questions

Why are your fragrance bottles not filled to the top?
Our bottles are actually slightly larger and are designed to allow for air space. Each bottle is filled and sold by volume. It is considered filled by volume when the liquid reaches the shoulder before the bottle neck.

I found a cheaper Vanilla Cream fragrance and bought it elsewhere. It smells terrible. How can two fragrances have the same name and smell so different?
There are literally hundreds of different formulations called “vanilla cream”. Each of these are different in character, note, balance and strength. This holds true for many, many different fragrance oils….not just vanilla cream. 

Also remember that a fragrance name is just that a name. It is very common to have fragrances designed under one name and then later changed to another name. For example, Wholesale Supplies Plus recently tested a fragrance called Good Night Dreams and renamed it Viva la Diva because we felt it was a better reflection of the aroma and the new name would appeal to more buyers.

When it comes to price, remember that Wholesale Supplies Plus only sells pure concentrated Crafter’s Choice Fragrance Oils. Don’t be fooled by other companies selling fragrances at a lesser price. There are places to cut costs, quality is not one of them!

I have purchased one of the Crafter’s Choice “Comparable” or “Type” fragrance oils. Can I call my product by the same name?
The law is fairly clear in that you cannot create a product for the purpose of creating confusion in the market. You can have your own product and can legally compare to another product on the market. 

We recommend you brand your product a different name and then “compare it to” the item you wish to compare. 

If you are selling “comparable” products, you will want to contact an attorney in your area to ensure you are following your state and federal laws.

How do I find out if a name is already trademarked for use in soap, lotions or candles?
Go to the US Patent and Trademark website and choose “trademarks”. From there you can perform a basic search. 

The US Patent and Trademark website is

You have so many fragrances, how do I know which would be the best sellers?
You need to consider your product line and target market group before deciding which fragrance oils you would like to use. You are always able to call us for suggestions but we do not release our top sellers.

Why don’t you release a “top 10” fragrance list?
There is no real way to convert our sales data into something valuable for our customers. For example, we have some customers that purchase full cans of fragrance oil every month so those scents look very popular when in reality only a few customers make up the bulk of the sales. 

On the other hand, we have other fragrances that look like best sellers based on dollars sold but in reality they are more expensive fragrances that have fewer ounces sold. 

If you are seeking a really good fragrance to fill a gap in your line, feel free to give us a call and we will be happy to help make some recommendations. You can also take a look at our “Fragrance Suggestion” guides for ideas!


Fragrance Oils Safety & IFRA Questions

Are fragrance oils safe?
Fragrance oils are very safe as long as they are used as recommended by IFRA.

What is IFRA and why are they so important?
IFRA stands for the International Fragrance Association. They are an independent international association with the main purpose of ensuring the safety of fragrance materials. This includes essential oils, fragrance oils and the components of fragrance oils. This is a very important agency because fragrances are considered “proprietary” formulas and it is only through strict self regulation that the public can be assured that proprietary fragrance formulas are safe for consumer as well as the environment.

What are IFRA Maximum Use Levels and why should I follow them?
All IFRA Standards are based on the latest scientific findings and are implemented following the recommendations of an independent Expert Panel, who have assessed all available data. They are part of the IFRA Code of Practice that makes up the self-regulating system of the industry. All IFRA affiliated companies must comply with IFRA Standards. IFRA affiliated companies represent approximately 90% of the global fragrance compound market. However, as the Standards are available freely to all producers via the IFRA website non-members may access and abide by these Standards. 

Wholesale Supplies Plus publishes directly on their website the “Maximum Use Level for Skin Contact” for each fragrance and essential oil. It is important that you follow the maximum use levels for skin contact because these levels have been set based on scientific data for the protection of the public and environment.

The IFRA Maximum Use Levels for my best selling fragrance oils just changed. What do I do now?
Each year IFRA makes recommendations based on the previous year’s research. They publish their findings and their recommendations to the public on their website. As more and more information becomes available, it is likely that you will see minor changes. Once a recommendation is published, a company has two years to comply with the change. This gives you time to use your inventory or alter your formula. It gives Wholesale Supplies Plus time to reformulate fragrance formulas so that we can keep the use levels in an ideal range.

Are the IFRA Standards recognized by any national or regional authorities?
Yes. The European Cosmetics Directive incorporates a number of IFRA Standards in Annex II & III, the Brazilian policy makers have adopted the IFRA Standards into Law. ABIFRA, the Brazilian Fragrance Association is currently proposing to the MERCOSUL group of countries – Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela - the official adoption of IFRA Standards for fragrance ingredients across the region. The ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Cosmetic Directive (ACD) which took effect on January 1, 2008 explicitly refers to the IFRA Standards as far as fragrances in cosmetic products are concerned. Chinese authorities are also looking to include the IFRA Standards into their regulations at the end of 2009.

I sell my products in the USA. Do I need to follow IFRA recommendations?
We highly recommend that you do follow them. This will benefit you and your customers. Following standards and guidelines shows that you are serious about producing a safe product.

I am using a fragrance that has a maximum use level of 100% in lotions. I am confused as to how much fragrance to add.
I understand this can be confusing. The Maximum Use Level is simply a guideline for the amount of fragrance that can come in contact with the skin. It is not an amount of essential oil natural blend that correlates with ideal product performance. 

For example, some lotion formulas become thin with 2% fragrance while others thicken nicely at 6%. Basically, use what is safe for skin contact and smells good to you. Then test to make sure it performs as you desire.

How do I dispose of a fragrance oil that I no longer want?
You will need to contact your local waste disposal management company. Some may say for small quantities, flush it down the toilet. Some may say to bring it directly to a landfill. It is important to tell them that your oil is non toxic and not hazardous. They may want to know the flashpoint.

Why do Wholesale Supplies Plus Fragrance Oils contain “Best Used Dates” and “Batch Labels”?
Best Used Dates: This is the date in which the aromatic character of the scent should not change. It has been set based on safety and performance standards. It is recommended you closely follow this date and not use any scent longer than the date on the bottle. 

Batch Labels: As with any ingredient, it is important that you keep record of batch labels used in production. In the event of a product recall, this is your way of tracking products your customers purchased.

Fragrance Oils – Application Questions

How do I decide how much Crafter’s Choice Essential Oil Natural Blend to use in a formula?
  1. Check the recommended amount in the application it is being used.
  2. Check the recommended amount for maximum skin use.
  3. Check the maximum amount that can be used for the packaging you are using.
  4. The lowest of numbers 1 - 3 will be the maximum amount of fragrance you can use.
Let's look at an example for producing a container candle with IGI 4633 Wax and Crafter’s Choice Vanilla Cream Fragrance:
  1. Fragrance in 4633 Wax (Application): 1-8%
  2. Fragrance Vanilla Cream Recommended Max for Skin Contact: 100%
  3. Fragrance in Glass Jar Packaging: 100%
  4. Maximum Fragrance for Formula: 8% (lowest of 1-3)
How do I list a fragrance oil on my ingredient label?
The appropriate ingredient or INCI listing for all fragrance oils is: fragrance oil.

My fragrance thinned my lotion. Is there anything I can do to thicken it?
Some essential oil natural blends will thin lotions. If this happens you can add 0.25-1% of melted stearic acid to your formula. This will thicken the lotion nicely.

My fragrance thinned my shower gel. Is there anything I can do to thicken it?
Try adding less scent in another batch. You can also try adding 5-10% Crafter’s Choice Bubble Wash Concentrate. Make sure you test each fragrance because some fragrances actually thicken shower gels into a paste.

My fragrance oil clouded my glitter gel base. Why did this happen?
Most fragrance oils will cloud body glitter gel. This is because body glitter gel is mostly water and polymer. This combination plus the addition of fragrance oil causes the gel to cloud.

Is there any fragrance oil that will not cloud a clear water base?
Water soluble fragrances are formulated to easily incorporate into water based linen sprays and water based foaming hand soaps.

I am making foaming hand soap. What fragrances can I use that will totally mix?
Water soluble fragrance oils mix well. If you want to use a traditional fragrance oil modify it first with Crafter’s Choice Fragrance Oil Modifier. This will allow the fragrance oil to totally incorporate into the foaming hand soap while staying clear. Note: If the modified fragrance oil wants to float, heat the base slightly and it will clear upon standing.

I am making cold process soap, when do I add the fragrance oil?
Most soap makers add fragrance at trace.

How do I know if a fragrance oil will cause my cold process soap to seize?
The vast majority of our fragrances will not cause cp soap to seize. As with any new fragrance, make your soap and take it to trace. Remove a small amount of soap from the main batch and test the fragrance.

Is there anything I can do to the fragrance to prevent cp soap seize?
Try heating the oil to 110º F before adding it to soap batch. Avoid using a stick blender with new and/or temperamental fragrance oils.

I am making lotions, when do I add the fragrance oil?
When making lotions, add the fragrance oil to the oil portion of your formula. You may also add it after the emulsification of oils with water.

I am making shower gel, when do I add the fragrance oil?
When making shower gel, add the fragrance just before adding color and pouring into bottles.

I am making candles, when do I add the fragrance oil?
When making candles, add the fragrance just prior to pouring the wax. Note that adding the fragrance will lower your wax temperatures. You may need to reheat the base to the recommended pour temperature.

My base is 150º F and my fragrance has a flashpoint of 135º F. Can I use a fragrance oil that has a lower flashpoint than my base?
You can use fragrances with lower flashpoints. Upon blending, you may find that some of the top notes dissipate into the air. This is okay because the fragrance has been formulated to take this into account.

I ordered a fragrance and it smells like chemicals. How will this ever smell good in a product?
Wholesale Supplies Plus only sells concentrated oils and this concentration is likely what you are smelling. If you sniff the fragrance out of the bottle you are going to sometimes get a headache and at other times get an “off base smell”. The fragrance is formulated to aromatically perform in a product. This base smell will go away. 

To test, make a small test product. You will find many scents really come alive and become more dynamic compared to smelling them out of the bottle. More often than not, you will not be disappointed with Crafter’s Choice Fragrance Oils!


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