DROPPIN CANDLE KNOWLEDGE: Bronzeblogger's Dictionary of Candle Terminology

In my years as a candle blogger/reviewer, I've encountered many people new to the BBW candleverse and are completely clueless of the terminology used in candle fandom. Just the other day, someone asked what "on cold (throw)" means and once I explained to her the definition, she admitted that she though it meant "smelling a candle in a cold room" This exchange inspired and prompted me to create a dictionary of sorts, a lexicon of candle vernacular with all the terms you need to as a candle enthusiast

Candle Burning Terms
Throw - the distance the smell of a candle travels
"warm" throw - the scent of a candle once it's lit
"cold" throw - the scent of an unlit candle. what you smell when you take off the lid. In the               candleverse, it's become slang to say "on cold"...personally I'm not a big fan of that phrase               and will always say "cold throw"

Pool - completely melted wax
"pooled out" - when the top layer of wax has melted from the wicks to the glass
"deep pool" - when the candle has been burning for awhile and the wax in melting completely             down

Tunneling - when only the wax directly below the wicks melts down eventually leaving the center hollow

Canyoning - when the heat of the flames only melts so much wax and there are hard chunks of unmelted wax along the glass

Mushroom tops - when the tops of the wick splits apart and creates a small ball of burnt soot once the wicks have been lit for awhile which leads to more intense flames which then melts the wax faster. There's some contention amongst candle burners whether mushroom tops are a good or bad thing; some leave them while others cut them off

PWS - "puny wick syndrome" - when the wicks shrivel from the heat and become skinny often causing stubby flames which lead to tunneling and/or canyoning

Dirty - the color of the wax that darkens due to soot seeping down from the lit wicks into the pool and settles in the wax, mainly happens to white/creme colors or light pastels

Curly wicks - when the wicks shrivel and literally curl downwards, sometimes into the wax

Dancing - the movement and flicker of tall flames

Stubby - very small and weak flames

Fresh Burn - the very first burn after buying

Candle Terms 
Repackage - an old scent that has been renamed and marketed as something totally different
Example: Black Tie is a REPACKAGE of Sage & Cedar

More often than not, people (mostly newbies) confuse a repackage with a rerelease, which are two totally different things.

Example: BBW brought back Leaves for the fall...the wax and/or label is different, but it's still the same candle - same name, same notes. That is a RERELEASE

BBW has a scent called "Spring Leaves" which is Leaves marketed as a spring scent..that is a REPACKAGE

If BBW took Winter and gave it a new label and released it with the same name - RERELEASE
If BBW took Winter and called it "Old Fashioned Christmas" - REPACKAGE

Repackage with a twist - a scent that is renamed and remarketed and either new notes are added or old notes are taken added to order to confuse customers into thinking it's new

Example: Berry Pumpkin Strudel is a repackage with a twist of Spiced Pumpkin Cider ie Spiced Pumpkin Cider with added berry notes

Slatkin/Slatkin era scent - any scent that was formulated and released by Harry Slatkin via BBW, any candle made before winter 2012

Example: Leaves, Winter, Fireside, Evergreen, Fresh Balsam, Pumpkin Caramel Latte, Cranberry Woods, Merry Mistletoe etc are Slatkin scents

Test Scent - a candle that is released only to certain stores to see how popular it is or could be before the initial nationwide release. If it "passes" or "goes wide", it will eventually appear online and in stores. If it "fails", it will be sent away to the warehouse only to be possibly be seen during the Semi Annual Sale (SAS) or on the black market ie Ebay or Mercari

White Barn/WB exclusive - a scent only sold at WB stores as an incentive to shop there more frequently

Mandle- a woodsy/herbal/leathery scent with decisively manly/masculine vibe to it ie "cologney"

Fragrance Terms
Gourmand - any scent that is supposed to smell like an actual edible and drinkable object

Bakery - a scent that smells like a baked confection/baked treat. Sometimes sweet dessert scents or candy scents are placed under the blanket term of "bakery"

Conceptual - a blend of notes that are blended together to create a scent that captures/conjures a mood/feeling, atmosphere or setting/location; a scent that is NOT supposed to smell like an actual object

Floral - any scent that notes of flowers; a scent that is supposed to smell like an actual flower or blend of different flowers

Cologney - a term used by, for the most part, amateurs to describe a conceptual scent that contains herbal and/or (most likely) wood notes; a scent that "smells like a men's cologne" but with negative connotations - "cologney" referring to cheap or basic men's fragrance

I LOATHE this word! First of all, not all colognes are cheap and cheap smelling. Secondly there are different types of colognes, they all don't smell alike or contain the same notes. Third, it's lazy; it's often used by people who are used to scents smelling like a specific thing, usually in the bakery/gourmand category and can not pick apart notes properly with conceptual scents, so they use "cologney" instead. However there are scents that actually smell like a specific cologne ie Mahogany Stankwood smells EXACTLY like Abercrombie & Fitch's Fierce..in that case, cologney is acceptable.

Old Lady/Perfumey -another amateur word used to describe (most often) a floral scent that smells like a fragrance a matronly women would wear

Funeral home - used to describe floral blends whose notes remind people of funeral wreaths

Toothpaste/dentist office - a mint (peppermint) heavy scent that's blended with other odd notes like citrus or cinnamon

Cleaner - a citrusy lemon/lemon balm/lemon verbena based scent blended with other odd notes that smells like a cleaning product

BBW's lemon scents rarely ever smell like actual lemons and either fall into 2 categories - candy (Limoncello) or cleaner (Lemon Verbena)

Fragrance note Terms
Notes - the fragrant components blended together create a single scent

BBW often quotes 3-4 notes (both real and imagined) in the description. However there are way more than 3-4 notes in a scent, many are invisible to the nose and some blended together to give the effect of one specific note (one "note" might be the combination of several other notes)

Top notes - what you smell on the initial first sniff and eventually disappears or trails off; often more fresh or sharp notes (ie citrus)
Middle Notes - what you smell after the first sniff that further gives you a better impression of what you're smelling, often the more smooth. soft  and mellow notes (ie florals)
Base Notes - the notes that is the foundation of the blend and acts as a glue holding the top and middle notes together as well as giving them more depth and richness (ie musk and sandalwood)

Fantasy note: a synthetic scent not found in nature, ie marshmallow

Musk - a fragrance component commonly used as base note in perfume and colognes as well as candles and oils. No longer made from animal glands, musk now are either plant based or synthetic, usually know as "white musk" because of it's clean/freshness and doesn't have the (animal butt) funk of natural musk

Citrus Musk - usually a combination of lemongrass, lemon, lime and bergamot with musk base note

Solar Musk/Notes - a blend of notes that are supposed to give the feeling of being out in the sun; usually a blend of gardenia, tiare, ylang-ylang and frangipani which all share a molecule called "salyciates" which give scents a sunny feel

Ozone/Ozonic - a synthetic chemical compound used to mimic the scent of lightning oxidizing the air ie that before/after the rain scent. Ozone is often used in watery scents, ie rain, snowy, fresh air, seawater. The main well known note in this compound is "calone", often used in cologne to give it a marine/seawater/ocean air feel

Petrichor - that "after the rain" earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil, the combination of chemicals in rainwater with oils from earth/soil and plant matter

White Floral - a blanket term for powdery and nectary flowers - orange blossom, jasmine, gardenia, tuberose, frangipani.

Green - notes that give off a "cut green grass or leafy vibe - sometimes actual green grass or leaves from fruits or flowers (fig leaf, violet leaf, tea leaf, ivy etc). Even certain herbs are considered "green" like basil, sage, rosemary, rhubarb, mint etc. Sometimes it also refers to more fresh smelling fruits and vegetables like celery, cucumber and avocado

Animalic - lusty musky notes meant to replicate animal musk which is no longer used for ethical reasons -think hairy sweaty animal ass and balls. Usually added to give a scent a sensual sexy vibe

Resinous - the technical definition is notes from oozing dripping teary tree sap; frankincense/olibanum and myrrh. Sometimes pine notes are described as resinous with it's turpentiney sap

Balsamic - again the technical definition is notes based from drippings/secretions of pods or bushes; vanilla/vanilla pods/vanilla orchids would be considered balsamic. Balsamic is usually used to described scent with almost vanilla-ish amber-y sweetness with a touch of woodiness

Coniferous - essential oils from pines, firs, cedars and cypress

Indolic - a chemical term used to describe rich, lush, heady white floral notes - tuberose, gardenia, orange blossom, honeysuckle, lilac and jasmine. On its own unblended, its smells similar to cat pee

Effervescence - bubbly, fizzy, sparkly nose tickling aspect of soda or champagne inspired scents. Usually made by "aldehyde", most synthetic but can naturally be found in rose, orange rind and cinnamon bark.

Phenolic - an organic compound (phenol) that often smells like a little dry, acrid, smoky and tar-ish; usually teas, coffees and chocolate scents and certain dark fruits like blackcurrant and pomegranate have a phenolic feel to them

Camphorous - cool, sharp, nose tingling coolness; think mothballs or Vick's Vapor Rub ie camphor (from which the name comes from), eucalyptus, certain kinds of lavender and pathcouli are camphorous

Menthol - organic compound made from mentha or mint; peppermint, spearmint, orange mint, garden mint, pennyroyal etc

*I'm only listing less obvious notes that most people probably haven't smelled before

Citron - a citrus fruit tree sometimes referred to as a cedrat lemon; similar to both lemons and limes.

Amber - real amber is not used in fragrances; its an accord (scent made of different notes to form one distinct note). It's a combination of various Oriental resinous notes often added to a blend give it warmth

Agarwood - more commonly known as "oud", it's the resin created by fungus attacking the Aquilaria tree and is popular in the Middle East and East Asia in incense and perfume. Nowadays synthetic versions are used. It's often described as balsamic with a musky vanilla/amber vibe to it

Bergamot - the oil from the non edible bergamot which is in the bitter orange family; it's best known as the main flavor component of Earl Grey Tea. It's a sweet heady and slight spicy citrusy scent; BBW often uses it in their "cologney" candles

Black Currant - a dark berry often made as jam, is used in a liqueur called "cassis" and is a popular flavor in the UK (the leaves are used to make teas). Its a rich dark fruity note with a hint of cat pee (to which it is described as animalic) BBW often uses it as a base note for alcoholic wine/champagne scents

Frangipani - also known as plumeria and is the flower that is made into leis in Hawaii and the South Pacific/South Seas. It's a very sweet, lush, heady "indolic" scent similar to magnolia, gardenia and tuberose with a hint of coconut.
Neroli - another member of the bitter orange family like bergamot; usually the blossoms are used in fragrances. It's bright, citrusy/orange-y with a slight metallic feel to it

Vetiver - the root of a grass commonly grown in India but can also be found in Indonesia and Haiti; sometimes vetiver is aged which enhances the scent. Its described as damp, musty and earthy
 with a hint of smokiness. It's often used in colognes and in BBW's cologney candles

Oakmoss - made from the lichen of oak trees, it has a wet, dampy earthy with a slight leathery undertone; often used in cologney scents

Tonka Bean - a thumb sized pod found mainly in Brazil with a scent similar to vanilla with a hint of spice and almond. Sold as  a vanilla substitute outside of the US

Sandalwood - the oil from the Sandal tree found in Asia. It's usually used as a base note with a creamy, but acrid almost vanilla-ish vibe

Cedar - usually its the oil from the leaves of cedar trees, but sometimes the roots and bark are used. Usually a dry slightly powdery "wood chips" type scent but can also slightly evergreen/piney/"Christmas tree" smelling

Tiare - a type of gardenia
Monoi - oil made from tiare macerated with coconut oil

Ylang-ylang - the bright yellow flower of the canaga tree in the Phillipines and Java; often called the poor man's jasmine. Very similar to jasmine, tiare and frangipani but slightly more richer, fruitier/citrus-ier and spicier

Pear Blossom/Apple Blossom - blossoms from the pear and apple tree; added to floral scents to give an extra freshness and dewiness

Patchouli - a bushy shrub grown in Malyasia and India. It's a very musty earthy scent usually usually associated with hippies

Peony - known as the king of the flowers; peonies has a soft dewy scent similar to roses but not as powdery and more fresh

Driftwood - blend of woody notes meant to capture flotsam/jetsam ie rotten sea salt crusted bits of trees or wood from ships blanched by the sun and cast adrift from the sea

Sea Salt - an accord meant to replicate the saltiness from the sea ocean air, often added to citrus notes, wood notes and caramel notes

Sage - the sacred herb; oil distilled from the velvety leaves of the salvia plant; very savory, earthy with a touch of pepperiness, very differnt from burnt smudges/sage ticks

Suede - suede is typically the underside of lamb, goat, pig or deer but that's not actually used in fragrance. Like leather, it's a synthetic blend used to ad an sensual, musky, velvety borderline woodsy aspect to a scent

Cherry Blossom - as cherry blossoms themselves are for the most part unscented, "cherry blossoms" are usually a blend of plum, apple and pear blossoms with basenotes of oakmoss and sandalwood with a hint of vanilla

Cashmere - also known as "blonde woods" , it's a synthetic blend made to capture the sweet, powdery aroma of soft, warm snuggly cashmere material

Pomelo -a citrus fruit similar  to a grapefruit often used a top note

Cardamom - oil made from the seeds - there are two kinds - black tends to be more earthy and smoky and green kinda has a light eucalyptus-mint type vibe

Elderflower - essential oil made from flowers, main flvor of st Germaine liqueur; it has a sweet honeyed moscato wine/grape flavor and aroma, slightly similar to chamomile

Sugarberry - also known as hackberry; the wood is used for furniture and the berries are edible. The scent is light, crisp and berry-ish

Tobacco - everyone assumes a tobacco scent smells like a burnt cigar...no. The tobacco leaves are used fresh or sometimes dried - it's slightly smoky, a little medicinal with a woody sweetness often compared to whiskey or maple. Because it's so heady, it's usually a binding basenote like musk, patchouli or vetiver

Verbena/Vervaine - a white/purple flowering plant whose blossoms have a distinctly fresh, green/grassy lemon/cintronella aroma
Lemon Verbena - a member of the verbena family whose lemony smelling leaves are used in fragrances as well as marinades, dressings and teas

Muguet - fancy French word for "lily of the valley"

Yuzu - a citrus fruit grown in Japan with a heavy grapefruit flavor/aroma with a hint of mandarin

If there is any note or term you don't know that I left, please let me know!


  1. This was great! Should be a reference guide for every BBW employee, as well as anyone that works at a fragrance counter. This must have taken a lot of time-- well-done!

    1. Aww, thank you! Glad you enjoyed it! This was quite the undertaking, but worth the effort I think. Hopefully it's helpful

      I think anyone at BBW, from management to sales associate, should know their terminology. And anyone working in fragrance, whether it's candles or perfume/cologne, should know their notes

  2. Fragrance category definitions like for "warm" or "fresh" from the BBW website would be helpful. I did notice you defined gourmand though.

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