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JEAN-CLAUDE BULENS, PERFUMER: STRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE

Founder of Hypsipyle company, master perfumer and fragrance designer for scented candles

 Express bio

  • Graduated from ISIPCAM (Institut Supérieur des Industries du Parfum) of Versailles.
  • Creation during his studies of his own company: Hypsipyle (in Greek mythology, queen of the island of Lemnos, and only woman on the island untouched by the wrath of Aphrodite, who inflicted all other a terrible body odor ...)
  • Today Hypsipyle is a reference partner for leading names in the home perfumery.

What is your occupation: perfumer or candle maker?

I am more a perfumer than a chemist or candle maker. Yet I do not create perfumes, however I adapt them and balance their structure according to the waxes ,fragrances and containers used. In the past, I used to help perfumers in their creations, at that time candles was still considered as secondary, with little manufacturing knowledge  and poorly controlled. Now they are all well developed, and all the major home perfumery houses and perfumers find interest in it. Creating a fragrance for a prestigious candle brand that will be sold worldwide, it's very motivating for a perfumer. 

Where does this passion for perfume and candles come from?

The passion for fragrances has always been in my genes. I dedicated all my studies to it. Candles were an opportunity that gave me the chance to build my own company... In the early '80s, Guy Laroche wanted to develop a scented candle for its fragrance Fidji, but could not find anyone with this skill. I took the challenge, and this is how it all started.

How do you create a scented candle: with how many components? In how many steps?

Upon receipt of the perfume extract, we do many tests by incorporating our " Hypsipyle base" a mixture of waxes and oils which we own and used for all our tests. Then it takes at least 4 burning, 3 hours each, knowing that the first does not count, to observe the evolution of the fragrance. Is the fragrance respected? If it is fragile, the candle wax should not break its balance. Are stability and diffusion satisfactory? I always test the olfactory diffusion in the same place, where I have all my references: at home. However we test the burning process in our laboratory.

Pour certains produits du luxe, il faut un très grand nombre de manipulations pour un produit fini (plus de 50 pour un carré Hermès). Combien de tâches manuelles sont-elles nécessaires chez Hypsipyle pour développer une bougie ?

For some luxury products, it takes a very large number of manipulations to a get a finish product (more than 50 for an Hermes scarf). How many manual tasks are needed in Hypsipyle to develop a scented candle?

Between 12 and 15 manipulations. 

How much time can elapse between the receipt of the perfume extract and the final formula of the scented candle?

It varies! When everything goes well, 15 days is required. But this is often longer. Sometimes, we get nowhere satisfactory, and  we need to ask the perfumer to make some changes. 

Did you have automated certain steps of the manufacturing process?

We just expanded our production capacity, but we can hardly replace the hand of man by machines. We are currently studying a small robot that could perhaps cut the wicks ... But each wick is still placed by hand, hand picked, hand cut. And quality control is permanent: each person who works on a manufacturing stage controls what has been done in the previous stage. 

What is the lifespan of a candle?

It all depends on the fragrance. Some notes are more fragile than others. The woody or oriental notes can last 4 or 5 years, while the floral notes, light, or citrus, are more fragile.

What is the best temperature to keep a candle?

The ambient temperature inside a house or an apartment, 20 ° C/ 70 ° F 

What is the best place to burn a scented candle?

Inside, away from drafts, and rather on a coffee table as the hot air generated during combustion will rise into the room.

After lighting a candle, how long does it take to smell its fragrance?

Au 1er allumage, comptez 2 heures. Ensuite, au fur et à mesure que vous brûlez la bougie et que le niveau descend dans le contenant, sa qualité olfactive va augmenter. Ceci est lié à l’augmentation de la température dans le contenant. En réalité, les bougies parfumées sont beaucoup plus performantes en fin de vie.

At 1st ignition, count 2 hours. Then, as you will burn the candle and the wax level drops in the glass container, its olfactory quality will increase. This is related to the rise of temperature in the glass container.

Can we let a candle burn until the end?

Of course. You ensure to cut the wick regularly, so it is not too high. 4-5 mm max to avoid excessive overheating and smoke.

Are candles polluting or toxic?

Quality candles are absolutely not polluting or toxic, there is not a shadow of a doubt. In my personal case, I have been making candles for 25 years, I breathed tens of thousands of them and I feel like a charm! However some incense sticks, those made with glued powder wood, could be problematic. 

Last question, how do you keep the flame ...?

As long as I manufacture high quality products, I  will continue to work. When I achieve a very good candle, I am thrilled . But I always feel unsastified searching for perfection ...