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Types of Aromatherapy Candles: How to Make Them

Posted Dec 02 2011 8:24pm

Aromatherapy has become increasingly popular as a modality to improve general health and reduce stress. It has been proven that the sense of smell is a receptor that can influence the brain and body tremendously. There are many ways to take advantage of aromatherapy, but aromatherapy candles have emerged as one of the easiest ways to receive the benefit of essential oils.

aromatherapy candles Types of Aromatherapy Candles: How to Make Them

Aromatherapy candles are special candles that are scented by the essential oils of plants, flowers and trees. These oils are extracted in a variety of ways, including steam distillation, cold pressing and solvent extraction.

Essential oils are concentrated, volatile substances that each have a host of health benefits, such as being anti-inflammatory, regulating the female menstrual cycle and cleansing the body internally. There are also numerous mental and emotional health benefits, such as stress reduction, treatment of depression and reduction in migraine headaches.

Aromatherapy, including the use of aromatherapy candles, is part of the resurgence of homeopathic modalities available to treat mental and bodily health. While the effective use of essential oils requires some knowledge and skill, the average person can use aromatherapy candles with very little specialized knowledge and reap many benefits.

Aromatherapy Candle History

Candles have been in existence in some form or another for thousands of years. However, originally, they were made from tallow-the fat of cows and sheep. The tallow candles let off an unpleasant smell, which the ancient Egyptians combated by adding essential oils to the candles. The Egyptians already used the oils and plant essences in healing and burial rites, but also discovered that when released into the air through candles, there were additional mood altering benefits as well.

Tallow candles were also used by the ancient Romans and many other societies. It was not until after the fifteenth century that beeswax candles were introduced, which was a cleaner burning and less offensive source of light. However, beeswax was relatively expensive and only the higher classes could afford beeswax candles with regularity. The majority of the population continued to use tallow candles for quite some time.

Around 1800, Spermaceti was discovered, which is a wax derived from the oil of sperm whales. Spermaceti was mixed with the previously undesirable tallow and resulted in a harder, longer lasting and less smoky candle-which was a vast improvement. In 1825, wicks were introduced, which allowed candles to burn even longer.

Paraffin wax was discovered 25 years later, which is a byproduct of crude oil. The Paraffin is processed, bleached and deodorized for commercial use. It can be molded into any form and is long burning, which is why it is still largely used today.

History of Candle Making

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Benefits of Aromatherapy Candles

Aromatherapy candles are recommended by holistic practitioners, as well as mainstream doctors and therapists as a means to promote emotional and mental balance. Some of the benefits of using aromatherapy candles are:

  • Aromatherapy candles are a convenient way to receive the benefits of aromatherapy in almost any setting.
  • Most essential oils used for aromatherapy candles can be placed anywhere, such as the bedroom, bathroom, office and nursery.
  • Using candles for aromatherapy does not require specialized knowledge of essential oils and their precautions.
  • Depending on the scent, aromatherapy candles can promote clearer thinking, more energy and increased vigor.
  • Aromatherapy candles can help to reduce the feelings of tension and stress, calm anxiety and panic and lift depression.
  • Aromatherapy candles can be used as a coping mechanism for those with chronic or long term illnesses.
  • Aromatherapy candles can help to facilitate a more relaxed labor and delivery.
  • Certain scents can sooth a colicky newborn or promote easier breathing in a sick child.

Which Scent to Choose?

aromatherapy scents Types of Aromatherapy Candles: How to Make Them

Essential oils have the ability to promote healing in a number of ways. However, there are specific oils which are more effective in treating mental and emotional issues through smell alone. Below are the most common essential oils used in aromatherapy candles and their specific benefits. Some essential oils have more than one benefit, so will appear under multiple categories.

Relaxation/Stress Relief

Chamomile is known for its soothing, stress relieving ability. Chamomile helps to slow the brain and promotes sleep.
Cinnamon is a common, yet familiar scent and very relaxing.
Frankincense is a very calming scent and can significantly reduce stress.
Lemongrass can lift mental and physical exhaustion and can be used as an aid to recover rom jetlag.
Lavender is a calming scent that can help eliminate the symptoms of stress.
Melissa is a natural sedative and can be used as a sleep aid.
Neroli can reverse insomnia and has been used to relax colicky babies and help them sleep.
Sandalwood is an effective stress reliever.
Tangerine is also a stress reducer and mood enhancer.

Mood Enhancing

Bergamot essential oil is known to provide a powerful uplifting affect.
Lemon is a powerful mood enhancer, as are Lime and Orange.
Lemongrass helps to foster cheer.
Neroli helps one to be even tempered and less quick to anger.
Rose lifts the spirits and conjures feeling of contentedness.
Rosewood promotes feelings of pleasure and happiness.
Vanilla is equally soothing, uplifting and relaxing.

Anxiety and Depression

Bergamot essential oil is an uplifting citrus scent that eases depression and unnatural fear.
Chamomile is a natural relaxant and can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
Frankincense can help combat anxiety and panic attacks.
Melissa is often used as a natural antidepressant.
Neroli helps to calm anxiousness and promotes an even mood.
Orange helps to lift depression and promotes happiness.
Peppermint is beneficial for combating depression and general anxiety.
Petitgrain works to ward off panic attacks.
Rose has antidepressant properties.

Aphrodisiac/ impotence and frigidity

Clove oil has a spicy, stimulating scent and is known to help correct sexual dysfunction.
Orange can help reverse impotence and female frigidity.
Vanilla is a heady scent and a natural aphrodisiac.
Ylang Ylang possesses a hypnotic scent that stimulates arousal.

Mental Clarity and Focus

Clove oil lifts mental fatigue and provides a clear, sharp focus.
Cinnamon is also excellent for clearing the mind and promoting mental clarity.
Frankincense opens up the senses and the mind and promotes creative thought.
Helichrysum cleanses the body’s meridian pathways and helps to balance the chakras.
Myrrh promotes relaxation and aids in reaching a meditative state.
Nutmeg lifts brain fog and promotes clear thought.
Patchouli promotes clarity of thought and increased concentration.
Sandalwood calms irrational fears.
Spearmint clears the brain and provides a boost of energy.

Memory

Lemon helps one to think clearer and aids in concentration.
Palma Rosa helps to clear mental clutter and improves memory.

Miscellaneous

Marjoram helps to regulate the central nervous system and calm hyperactivity.
Peppermint helps headaches to subside.
Rosemary removes feelings of fatigue.

Types of Aromatherapy Candles

For those who are interested in using Aromatherapy candles, there are various forms in which they are available. The most popular are:

Container Candles: These are candles where the wax mixture has been poured into non-flammable glass or ceramic containers. A wick is added before the wax fully hardens. Many like container candles because they are usually large in size, make good gifts and can be capped between uses.

Pillar Candles: Usually more of a decorative item, pillar candles are increasingly being scented with pure essential oils and used for aromatherapy. These large candles are usually round or rectangular and may sit atop decorative stands or trays,

Floating Candles: This type of candle is made specifically to float in liquid, which may be a bowl of water or even the bathtub. Floating candles aid in creating a relaxing environment, which allows for maximum sensory awareness and absorption.

Votive Candles: These smaller candles are approximately two to three inches high. They can be burned conveniently in any heat resistant container and is the most size candle most frequently produced.

When selecting aromatherapy candles, the quality of the wax used is critical to receiving the maximum health benefits, versus potentially harming your body. Many purchase candles without examining the quality and are unknowingly inhaling harmful elements.

Types of Wax

bees wax Types of Aromatherapy Candles: How to Make Them

Paraffin Wax- Paraffin is one of the most common, yet most harmful waxes available. Paraffin is a by-product of crude oil, meaning it is actually the waste that is left over once the crude petroleum oil has been refined.

To make the crude waste residue usable, it is heavily bleached and deodorized. This results in the white, waxy substance that is used to produce the candles most of us are used to. The resulting candle looks pristine and harmless, however, recent studies have shown otherwise.

Some of the drawbacks of Paraffin wax include:

  • When lit, Paraffin emits petro-carbon soot, which in large quantities can blacken walls, as well as your lungs.
  • Paraffin emits toxins such as alkans, alkenes and toluene, which can lead to lung cancer
  • Paraffin has caused breathing problems for people with asthma
  • The soot can become lodged in your ventilation system and continuously contaminate the air
  • Daily, or even frequent use of Paraffin candles greatly increase the risk of respiratory cancer or illness.

As an alternative to potentially harmful Paraffin wax candles, natural wax candles are available. Because they are derived from plant matter, vegetable wax does not contain the same inherent harms as Paraffin. One o the most popular natural waxes on the market today is Soy.

soy candles Types of Aromatherapy Candles: How to Make Them

Soy Candles are advisable for the candle enthusiast who is concerned with their health, as well as the environment. Below are the various benefits of using Soy candles in aromatherapy:

  • Soy wax burns cleaner, with minimal soot that does not contain toxins, allowing for inhalation of only beneficial elements.
  • Soy wax is more economical, as it burns longer than Paraffin wax.
  • Soy wax does not harm the environment, as it is produced from a natural vegetable source.
  • Purchasing Soy candles helps to support the farm economy.
  • Soy candles aid in the sustainability movement, as they are a naturally renewable form of light and aromatherapy.

It is important to note that because of its consistency, soy was is unable to be molded into pillar or votive candles and will normally be in the form of container candles. There are however, some pillar and votive candles that are a mix of soy and palm or bees wax, thus giving the candle the desired consistency for molding. Stearic acid is also often used as a hardening agent. When purchasing soy candles, be sure to understand the exact ingredients.

Palm oil wax is another alternative for making candles. This wax is derived from the oil palm trees in India and has increased in popularity in recent years. The fruit of the tree is harvested, pressed and refined to produce many products, including palm wax.

Palm wax has become popular with professional candle makers, as well as hobbyists for the following reasons:

  • When sourced in a responsible manner, Palm wax represents a natural and renewable source of wax, without the harms inherent in Paraffin wax.
  • Palm wax is more flexible in molding and can be used to make votives and pillar candles, as well as traditional container candles.
  • Palm wax is less expensive than bees wax.
  • Palm wax holds the scent better than soy wax.

Some companies produce palm oil wax in an unsustainable manner than can lead to deforestation. However, there are ecologically minded producers that produce palm oil in a sustainable manner and will usually label their products as such.

Beeswax is excellent for crafting aromatherapy candles, but is the most expensive wax available. However, the expense may be justified, as beeswax candles have twice the lifespan of soy candles and three times the longevity of their paraffin counterparts. Below are added benefits of using beeswax candles:

  • Beeswax has a naturally sweet smell, which blends well with essential oils.
  • Beeswax has the longest burning time.
  • Beeswax burns cleanly, without emitting toxic soot.
  • Beeswax emits negative ions as it burns, which improves air quality.
  • Beeswax is sourced from bee colonies and is highly sustainable.

When purchasing beeswax, look for wax that is a golden honey color. Lighter beeswax has been bleached. Also, ensure that the wax is 100% beeswax, as some manufacturers produce a mixture of beeswax and other oils, but still label it as beeswax.

Making a Choice

With one billion pounds of wax used to make candles annually in the United States, using a cleaner burning, non toxic wax has great benefit for the environment. Although some may decry the use of palm oil wax due to deforestation, others may see it as a better alternative Paraffin and gel waxes. Soy wax has become highly preferred and beeswax seems to be the most ecologically beneficial of all the waxes.

How to Make Aromatherapy Candles

Click here to view the embedded video.

As candles are relatively easy to make, they are an enjoyable hobby for many. There are an infinite number of essential oil blends that can be mixed to suit any mood. Some individuals make candles simply for providing a pleasant smell or as gifts. Others may want to seriously study the best formulations for treating specific maladies through aromatherapy.

If you are interested in making aromatherapy candles, below are the common ingredients that are required. Variations can be made in the oils used, as well as the type of molds and pouring technique.

To make aromatherapy candles you will need:

  • Your choice of wax
  • Candle molds, usually aluminum tin, or disposable molds.
  • A double boiler or wax melter
  • Candle wicks in the appropriate size
  • Essential oils
  • Gloves
  • Sharp knife and mixing spoon
  • A clear surface covered in newspaper
  • Bamboo skewers or another means of suspending the candle wicks

The following are general guidelines for making candles. Experiment with shapes, size and scent until you are pleased with the finished product.

1/Melt wax in the double broiler.
2/Cut the wick to the desired length, and then use small tongs to dip it in the melted wax
3/Lay the wick out to dry and harden, ensuring that it is straight
4/Add essential oils to melted wax
5/Pour wax into molds and let harden
6/When the candle is partially hard, use a skewer or candle threader to pierce a hole into the center of the candle
7/Insert the wick
8/Reheat wax (slightly hotter than the first time) and pour an additional layer of wax in the mold, obscuring the hole made when threading the wick.
9/Suspend the top of the wick, so that it does not fall into the hardening wax. Wooden or bamboo kabob skewers work well.
10/Let candles fully cool, then remove from the mold

making aromatherapy candles Types of Aromatherapy Candles: How to Make Them

Safety Precautions

  • Wax should not be heated over 250 degrees, as the flash point it 300 degrees.
  • Exercise extreme caution and wear gloves, as wax is molten when heated and can burn badly.
  • Cover the candle making surface with newspaper to prevent damaging the table.
  • Remove any unnecessary items from the preparation area.

Once created, aromatherapy candles have a long shelf life. They can be stored for future use, given as gifts or sold. The convenience and health benefits of aromatherapy candles make them a welcome and inexpensive addition to any holistic health regimen.

References

National Candle Association. Elements of Wax: http://www.candles.org/elements_wax.html
South Carolina University. Frequent use of certain candles produces unwanted chemicals: http://www.scsu.edu/news_article.aspx?news_id=832
BBC News. Candle Use Linked to Cancer: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8211543.stm
Let’s Make Candles. Palm Wax: http://www.letsmakecandles.com/Info_Palm_Wax_803.asp

http://www.cozyhearthandhome.com/typesofcandles.htm

Encyclopedia Britannica. Essential oils:  http://www.britannica.com/bps/search?query=essential+oil&blacklist=193135

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