In search of the perfect scent

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life43 Comments

In search of the perfect scent…

In search of the perfect scent…
It all started when I flew to Seattle earlier this month to surprise my best friend, Molly, for her 50th birthday.

When I arrived at her house, I noticed that it smelled really clean… a fresh laundry-like smell that reminded me little of Fels-Naptha. (If you use this product, you’ll know instantly the smell of which I speak.) Now this smell didn’t surprise me because the only reason I know about Fels-Naptha is because Molly has always had a bar or two in her laundry room in all the years I’ve known  her. I figured it was just the scent of the bar as I passed by her laundry room and that was that.

But then as I was putting my bag into the guest room, I noticed she had this gorgeous little lamp sitting on a table in her living room. It looked exactly like this:

In search of the perfect scent…

I was all, “Moll… what a cool lamp! Where’d you get it?”

And so begins my Scentsy Story.

First, know this: I am not selling Scentsy. I was slightly familiar with the company having been invited to a few parties over the years, but always declining the invite on account of my personal scent sensitivity.

Next, know this: I realized that the smell I was smelling wasn’t, in fact, a random Fels-Naptha bar, but instead, a wax melt from Ashland called Mountain Air. And so, quite unexpectedly, I entered into the vast and complicated world of melted wax scents.

Molly, being the kind-hearted friend that she is, contacted her Scentsy rep and ordered me a Parlor Warmer as a little gift upon my return home. I located some of the Mountain Air wax melts on Esty and I was ready to begin the wax melt experience. In went a cube and I sat back as my home filled with an overpowering scent that smelled nothing at all like Mountain Air and within about 15 minutes I had a growing headache and was pouring the wax into the trash.

I was perplexed. Wasn’t this the smell that had smelled sooo good at Molly’s house? She assured me that at first the scent would be a bit strong, but then it mellowed. So I tried another cube. Again, within 30 minutes I felt like I was going to pass out in a scented haze. More wax into the trash and the quest began to find something that would work.

I headed off to Rosedale Mall to hit up both Bath & Body Works and the Yankee Candle store, where I picked out a handful of wax melts to bring home and try. Each one I tried gave me more and more of a headache and I was beginning put the facts together of something I somehow forget: I don’t really like smells.

In search of the perfect scent…
But I still loved this warmer lamp, so I forged ahead and read some reviews of Scentsy scents on this website, and picked a few out to try (Luna, Camu Camu and Just Breathe). But when those arrived, I could almost tolerate Luna, but the others were just not working for me at all.

Then I Googled “modern wax warmer” and came across this cool company, Penrose Candle, and ordered some of their Norwegian Woods wax melts, which I have to say are pretty nice but still not something I would use all the time.

The I tried some scents from this lovely little Etsy shop, and while they were nice, again, they weren’t ones I would want to smell every day.

As much as I want to be a scent lover, all signs are pointing to the contrary.


I realize there are worse things in life than not loving smells. As my friend Molly said, “Well, just use the warmer as a light then,” and I was all, “YOU ARE SO SMART!”

But I will toss it out there, for those who love smells, what do you like to smell in your home?

If I’m being honest, the only candle I ever loved was the Euphoric scent by Aveda, which is no longer made. Dan used to get me one for Christmas every year.

I did recently order an Aveda Shampure candle and plan to scoop out some of the wax and plop it into the warmer dish and see how that one works.

But I’m not holding my breath.

Get it? Yep. I knew you would.


Cathy ZielskeIn search of the perfect scent

43 Comments on “In search of the perfect scent”

  1. #1
    Kim Jackson

    I used to be a burn all the candles all the time girl & then got sensitive to them-headache, nausea, etc. So I quit. I want to have the house smell good with out all the work 😉 My niece sells Scentsy & suggested half a cube & Walla!!! MAGIC!!! one that was making me want to curl up in a ball the day before was NOT now!! I have also found that the more natural ones are way more gentle on my body than Scentsy(I can use a whole cube for dayyyyyyys) Also, I realized I must wash my hands immediately & thoroughly after handling the wax. Good Luck!!

    1. #1.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I have been using the Ashland Mountain Air for the last two days again, because I do like the smell, but literally only using about a fingernail size of the wax. Hubby even said the house smelled nice.

      I also think part of the difference is the space. My house is not huge and my friend’s house has much more open space. Maybe I need a new house? lol.

  2. #2
    Glenda Thorne

    So nice to hear that I’m not alone in the scent sensitivity realm. I can only burn soy or beeswax candles that have a natural smell. I stopped using candles many moons ago but I love their warm glow, especially when having a hot bubble bath and a glass of red wine. Good luck in your little adventure of locating that perfect smell,lol.

  3. #3

    I’m a lover of scents…but cannot do anything floral or I have an instant headache. I think you use Young Living? Do you have the diffuser? If so, you should give it a try…you control how much scent is released and bonus, it’s not toxic! My favorite right now is Christmas Spirit with a couple drops of orange.

    1. #3.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I do have a diffuser, yes…I really only ever diffused a handful of oils… the rest were a bit much for my nose. 🙂

      1. #3.1.1
        Audrey V

        Hi Cathy! I too am really sensitive to smells. I think a lot of the “scented things” use chemicals that are not natural, and I am responding to that. I recently started using the Young Living essential oils, and I diffuse them. They are all extracted oils from plants, so they are natural. I really like them.

  4. #4

    I love scents and for the most part, I’m not bothered by them. I can’t do any candles that smell like pine or Christmas trees. I used to wear perfume a lot. When I had cancer and was going through chemo, they asked us not to wear any scents in the cancer center as some patients are bothered by them. As it turned out, I was one of those patients so I stopped all scents. I’m now long past cancer thankfully but still have allergy issues that I never had before. I do use some scents in my house but I have to be very careful what I use and how much. I do love the way they make a house smell though. I never wear perfume anymore now that I know how it bothers some people.

  5. #5

    I am very sensitive to smell too. Its been 30 years since I have used any perfume. I can burn the Eucalyptus Spearmint candle from Bath and Body works on occasion and I have a diffuser with essential oil. The diffuser is awesome and much less “smelly” than candles.

  6. #6
    Maegan B.

    Try an essential oil diffuser. (I prefer Young Living oils. There are countless companies to choose from.) You will like the EO diffuser because you can control how powerful the scent is. Start with 1-2 drops of oil. If that doesn’t bother you, add more. Good luck!

  7. #7
    Becki Wright

    Coconut oil and natural essential oils may be a better fit for you. Many candles/melts have toxic ingredients many are sensitive to

  8. #8

    Try the Burts Bees soy wax melts. You can get them in the candle aisle at Target. They are definitely less overpowering than Scentsy.

  9. #9

    I’ve been a diehard Ashman Candles lover for yeeears. They are local, but ship everywhere. My favorites are Pumpkin Spice for fall. Romance, which has a lovely soft cucumber/watermelon scent–great for spring. And then a Vanilla Spice for all-year and a Cinnamon for Christmas.

    I’m not a sweet/floral scented kind of gal. Too strong. But these are lovely. They are ‘homey’ to me. 🙂

  10. #10
    Julie E

    I have the exact same issue!!

    I want to like smells so badly! I once had to ask a male co-worker on his first day of work to not wear what was probably a very nice cologne, please. Embarrassing. And those Plug-ins. My boss, thinking I was exaggerating – bought a few and randomly placed them around our warehouse workspace. I had to sniff them all out and make him take them home. Instant headache.

    Makes me sad!

    1. #10.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Yeah, I’ve heard that scents in the workplace can be rough on people. I can’t imagine working where there was a plug in. That would be hard.

  11. #11

    YAS! so sensitive to scent. I do really like essential oil scents used in moderation and will not hesitate to melt a candle that I love in my warmer. I really like marshmallow fireside from Bath and Body works.

  12. #12

    I’m scent sensitive too and tend to use essential oils (2-3 drops in a diffuser) instead of candles. I don’t like the blends, so I’ll add simple scents: lavender, lemon, orange oil. That’s about it. And only Young Living. DoTerra smells terrible. But that’s just me.

    Typically if I burn a candle, which is rare, I burn DIY wax candles. For some reason they’re better.

    Otherwise, I really liked Illuminations when it was around, and still have two candles that I open (rather than burn) when I want a smell.

    I also wear perfume oil instead of perfume. I like the way it hangs on my skin better. Good luck with your scent journey!

    1. #12.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I’ve done lavender more than any other EO. That and orange. But now my diffuser just smells awful… like one big generic oil. It’s been awhile since I used it last. lol!

  13. #13
    Amy Goldstein

    I could have written this post! I have a pretty extreme scent sensitivity (I can’t even walk NEAR a BBWorks or perfume counter at the mall). I have two wax warmers and countless wax melts that now live in my garage after many a headache after even “natural” products kicked in a migraine. Then I got an essential oils diffuser and my life changed. I finally had a way to scent my environment with scents I could mix & control. While I haven’t cracked the recipe for the Aveda smell (I grew up in the Twin Cities- it was the official scent of my youth), I have a plethora of options now available to me. I second the Young Living oils recommendation, most other oils just don’t smell as good or are as pure (you are diffusing them into your air so quality counts!). I even joined up with them so I could get my oils at a discount. I have successfully used Young Living and Melaleuca PURE essential oils, doTerra oils just don’t smell as pleasing to my nose. The health food store oils are the WORST- avoid them. There are a few scents you have to be careful with as a person with sensitivity- Ylang ylang could be problematic. But I HIGHLY recommend an EO diffuser. My first EO concoction I mixed of lavender/peppermint/rosemary/tangerine was so exciting- I had a light scent in my home and NO HEADACHE. Good luck with this.

    1. #13.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Cracking the Aveda recipe! lol. I actually ordered a set of wax melts on Etsy that said it was the same as the old Euphoric candle. I opened up the package and there was a hint of it, but no where near the smell I used to love. 🙂

      I wonder what the Young Living recipe to match Aveda would be? I’ve heard Ylang Ylang is key. I need to hit up my neighbor who sells the stuff… maybe she can match it.

  14. #14
    Tammy B

    I usually go for fruity scents or vanilla. I don’t like anything floral (unless it’s the real thing) or anything that says clean linen, etc.. I like a hint of cinnamon around fall and Christmas but some candles have that fake-pinecone-cinnamon-oil smell, occasionally found in craft stores, and that makes me feel ill. I generally like Yankee Candle and PartyLite had some nice, light scents but I haven’t purchased from them in a long time. Good luck with your search!

  15. #15

    Ugh, this is so me. I am so sensitive to scents, and my husband thinks I’m insane. It’s so bad, and we are currently house/dog sitting. As soon as we walked into the house I just looked at him. He knew that we were now on a quest to find EVERY SINGLE PLUG IN THING that was emanating a stench to my senses, and immediately unplug them. Their car even has a plug in thing. WHY? Oh my gosh.

    Scents I do like… citrus, particularly lemon or lime. I used to love a particular candle, it had fig and something else in it, but once we went vegan, I forgot about it. Silly beeswax situation.

    So, good luck. Keep us posted. I’d love to find a scent that was lovely, but not overpowering. We do an essential oil mister thing, that I don’t hate. Ha.

  16. #16

    Have you tried simmering something on the stove? I have read a few places that if you simmer sliced lemons, a little vanilla and rosemary in water on the stove, your house will smell like Williams Sonoma. I am afraid I’d forget about it, but it sounds lovely!

  17. #17
    Diane Jaroch

    When we want to add a little scent to the air we usually simmer a pot of cinnamon sticks and/or cloves. The nice thing is you can control how intense the odor is with the water to spice ratio. We all get headaches form scents in our house, so usually go very low key. It works well to clear out bad cooking odors, like burnt toast, etc. Of course adding slices of orange, lemon, etc. to the water makes for a nice fresh scent too.

  18. #18
    Jane O'Leary

    Oh boy this post is me!!!! Now first off I think I am a scent kind of girl. I love the smell of a scented candle. But yes then there are some that make me dizzy and want to run for my atomizer! My husband HATES scented anything. I put scented hand cream on and he and the CAT both snub me! *sigh*
    I have a cuticle cream I make with coconut oil and lavender oil, used it the other day….ON MY FINGERS FOR CRYING OUT LOUD…and my husband says “what is that smell”.

    So I guess the answer to your question “What do I like to smell in my home?” Clean floors I guess. It’s the little things. 🙂

  19. #19

    I’m very particular about scents, and can’t stand most chemical derived aromas… I’ve discovered most Bath & Body Works scents start out unique, then all smell similarly awful soon after the first volatiles disperse. I then played in a The Body Shop store, and discovered their home fragrance oils. They say their products are more natural, and I’m a big fan of some of their scents. I wonder if you could put a bit of water in the top of your wax burner, then a drop of scented oil in that? (how I use the aroma dispenser I’ve purchased from The Body shop). Guessing there’s one of these stores somewhere in a mall near you — another option to check out!

  20. #20
    Caroline l

    I feel your scent issues. Honesty, I use the occasional Glade seasonal candle (anything that smells like Christmas tree or cinnamon) and I’m happy!

  21. #21
    Caroline l

    I feel your scent issues. Honesty, I use the occasional Glade seasonal candle (anything that smells like Christmas tree or cinnamon) and I’m happy!

  22. #22

    I commented on your Facebook post but will also say here that the coffee scent from Scentsy is great. I can usually handle anything food smelling. Most brands are ok. Anything else though…no way.

  23. #23

    Lemon is the scent that I can handle the best in a candle. And the added benefit is that smelling lemon is supposed to give you energy–read that a long time ago. 🙂 Lavender gives me instant migraines and so do most pine scents.

    I can’t use any floral scents for lotions, etc on my body. My husband has a reaction to them that can be pretty intense.

    I’d like to try simmering natural ingredients on the stove but I’m really afraid that I’d forget that they were there!

  24. #24

    I have asthma, and the carriers used in some perfumes and perfumed products can cause me problems. That said, I love scent – in my home I use Lavender essential oil and some Root candles. I love the solid lotions sold by – I discovered them at the International Quilt Festival and I love almost everything they make, and their products use only natural ingredients. Lavender Lil is my favorite. When I want a holiday mood – I put a pot of water on the stove and add some cinnamon sticks, whole allspice, whole cloves and a bay leaf and simmer – the whole house smells wonderful. If I have orange or lemon peel, I add that too. My favorite scents are lavender, cinnamon, true Maine balsam and the Blue Morpho oil from Kate’s Magik.

  25. #25

    Diffusing grapefruit essential oil s my favorite. I lean toward the citrus scents (lime, tangerine, orange, lemon, grapefruit) & lavender. Everything else sucks! 😏 I buy my Essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs.

  26. #26

    I found an essential oil recipe for “Smells Like Aveda” and I just mixed up a little bottle of it last night. I’m letting it sit a couple days before I try it in my diffuser. Maybe try this? Equal amount of drops of lavender, rosemary, orange, ylang ylang, bergamot, peppermint. I buy my oils from and I am a fan.

    Also loving the Mrs. Meyers seasonal scents, especially my Orange Clove hand soap!

    Good luck with your search!

  27. #27

    Root candles are great for allergy folk ~
    I’ve had to swear of anything Scentsy ~ the top notes are okay, but underneath those is always a commercial strength deodorant smell that makes my head pound!
    My go-to scents are -‘Ocean’ by Airs, and Nag Champa sandalwood incenses ~ probably not good for those with asthma.

  28. #29
    Annet M

    I also find I don’t like any smells in my house. Here in Canada, more and more work and public places are going “scent free” in order to be kind to those with sensitivities – though working at a university you can’t really make the students do the same, but I find the less I am around overpowering scents, the more they bother me! I have issues when I get 2nd clothes from people washed in Tide, I find it so overpowering and it takes a few washes to get it out. We wash in Norwex deteregent which has no smells. So no, I don’t burn any smelly candles, use any effusers or the like. My husband always wants to have an overpowering toilet spray and I’d rather deal with the other smell than deal with the chemical spray smell! Ha!

  29. #30

    I don’t mind light scents, but I have a friend who always has a candle or some kind of scent going in nearly every room. By the end of spending a day at her house, it is all I can take. I choose not to any candles or scented things in my house except carpet freshener once in a while.

  30. #31

    I don’t like 99.9999 of any scents for any purpose out there. All “cheap” smelling or sickening. Watkins used to have vanilla room spray and roll on I liked but seriously next to nothing. I struggled to come up with something to purchase at a niece’s Scentsy party. Gave all away except Welcome Home (purchased on the advice of the host) . Very subtle and I do find a new bar is smellier than used but like it new or used. So my question for you, what lotions or “perfumes” do you use. I’m always on the search with little success for “body smellers” 🙂

    1. #31.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I wear two perfumes: 1. Eau D’Hadrien by Annick Goutal (amazing, crisp, light, unisex) and 2, one that I just started wearing, Lanvin Eclat D’Arpege. 🙂

  31. #32

    I love smells…my husband and boys not so much… In my diffuser I like to use a drop of lemon, one of grapefruit and one of peppermint. It’s nice and light and smells clean. As far as the scentsy warmers, I find just a smidge of the bar is more than enough. I usually cut each section into smaller pieces…generally quarters. Smart small. You may like it. Also, that warmer is the best!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *