If you are anything like most people, catching a whiff of a scented candle display induces you to stop and smell the offerings. While most scented candles smell appealing, you may be attracted to some scents more than others. Candles made with essential oils, for example, have a more earthy and attractive scent, in many consumer’s opinions. While these essential oil candles are widely-sold, it can be confusing to understand how they are made and what makes them better than the cheaper scented candles sold in department stores.
What is an Essential Oil?
The basis for an essential oil candle is the scent that is placed in the wax. Scents can hail from many different sources, many of which are synthetic. An essential oil scent, however, is all natural. Essential oils begin as whole plants and herbs, such as lavender flowers, mint leaves and citrus rinds. Each of these plants is naturally infused with an oil compound that generates the scent that is normally associated with the plant. An essential oil is the essence of this plant scent, extracted from the whole flower or leaf.
Essential oils can be produced using steam distillation or cold pressing machines. Other methods are sometimes used, such as extracting the oils with a solvent like alcohol. These techniques, however, create oils of lower quality. Essential oils are sometimes confused with fragrance oils, which aren’t necessarily all natural, though they can have essential oils in their ingredient list. Most people can tolerate pure essential oil fragrance, while allergies to fragrance oils are extremely common.
Making the Candle
All types of candles are made with some type of a wax base. This wax can be either synthetic or natural. Synthetic waxes, such as paraffin, can even be created as a byproduct of refining petroleum. Most essential oil candle makers are dedicated to creating a completely natural product, so they favor the natural types of waxes. Natural waxes can have a vegetable base, such as is the case with soy wax. More expensive products are made with beeswax. In some cases, candles are created from a mixture of wax materials.
Once a wax base is selected, the wax is melted at the proper temperature to create a liquid consistency without burning the wax; the essential oil is then added to the liquid wax and mixed in thoroughly. Most candles are made by pouring this liquid base into a jar or other candle container, with a wick anchored to the bottom of the container. More rustic essential oil candles may be dipped in a traditional manner, with the candle slowly built up as the wick is passed into the liquid wax and then hardened multiple times.
Artisan candle makers often include their own decorative flavor to each of their candles. These candles are often more expensive than mass produced scented candles, as each blend is carefully crafted, while the candles themselves are often handmade. Essential oil candles may be listed by artisan makers as aromatherapy candles and can include the flower petals and loose herbs that were used to make the essential oil scent. Artisans also give extra care to the look or feel of their candle containers.
Essential Oil Benefits
There are numerous scents available in essential oil candles. Some of the most common essential oils used in candle making and their purported benefits are listed below.
Lavender- the most common essential oil, used for relaxation and peacefulness
Lemon- cleansing and rejuvenation
Patchouli- an earthy scent that is considered an aphrodisiac
Jasmine- deep floral tones good for childbirth and increasing optimism
Peppermint- stimulating leaf that improves mood, apathy and depression
Frankincese- very expensive calming essential oil with strong connections to many religious practices
Sandalwood- relieves nausea and stress
In many cases, essential oils are combined to create blends that have even more healing properties and these are often found in essential oil candles along with basic scents made with one essential oil.