Mother Earth Living

Candle Making with Herbs

These candle making with herbs projects use your favorite herbs to scent and decorate candles to warm your home or that of a dear friend.
By Dawna Edwards
October/November 2006

Try candle making with herbs to create a unique herb-scented candle for your home.
Photo By Dawna Edwards

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Candle Making with Herbs

For centuries, candles were essential for lighting the darkness. While candles today remain an option for light during a power outage, most U.S. homes enjoy the luxury of electric lights at the flip of a switch. Since the incandescent glow of candlelight is one not easily recreated by modern technology, candles continue to intrigue and enlighten. The appeal of modern candles often involves scent, raising the “wick” of appreciation and making lit candles not only perfect for romantic ambiance, but also relaxing and therapeutic.

Whether you create them for your own enjoyment or as gifts for others, making and decorating candles is fun and easy or can be as complex as you like. Here are a few basic candle-making suggestions followed by some simple yet stunning ways to add herbs to candles you’ve already poured or purchased.

Candle Wax Suggestions

You can find more information on the details of wax from any of the resources listed, and you may want simply to experiment on your own to find what works best for you, but here are the brief basics.

Paraffin, a common candle wax, is a petroleum byproduct (read, “bad for the environment”) available with different melting points. It often requires additives to keep it from shrinking. Beeswax, a stellar, all-natural alternative with a naturally pleasant honey scent, is more expensive but comes in a variety of forms, is easy to work with, burns longer and doesn’t shrink when it cools. Keep in mind that it’s important to purchase domestically collected beeswax to avoid possible pesticides. A relatively new product in the world of candles is soy wax. It’s all-natural, burns cleaner than paraffin, is often microwaveable (check the brand’s instructions on the package), and doesn’t shrink as it cools. You’ll also find it’s less expensive than beeswax.

Making Candle Scents

When decorating your candle with herbs, it makes sense to scent it with your favorite herbs as well. There are a few methods to add scent to candle wax. You can use fragrance oils, essential oils or dried herbs that steep in the hot wax and are then removed. Aromatherapists would point out that only true essential oils from herbs and spices—not fragrance oils—offer the healing, relaxing, rejuvenating, stress-relieving or sensual properties suggested by scent, but some candle makers prefer fragrance oils because they mix better with wax than essential oils. If you choose to use pure essential oils, remember that a little goes a long way and test them in small doses before you make a large batch. Alternately, if you have some dried herbs, flowers or spices on hand, they’ll do the same trick. Though they require the mess of straining, they cost less than essential oils. They also can add a bit of their natural color to the mix.

If you’ve purchased an unscented candle to decorate and wish to add scent to it, you can add a drop of essential oil to the wax well in the top each time before burning it, or you can pierce holes in a thick candle and fill them with essential oil. To do so, heat a metal ice pick over your stove’s heating element and then press it down into the candle, leaving a hole that you can fill with essential oil. For larger candles, make two or three holes to fill, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the wick.

Candle Making Safety

Be conscious and smart while making and using your candles. While making the candles, don't leave heating wax unattended and keep some baking soda handy to extinguish fire. Never leave burning candles unattended, and don't place them where they could be knocked over. Use only non-flammable, candle-safe candle holders and keep matches, lighters and candles out of reach of children.

Try the herb candle recipes at the top of this article.

Dawna Edwards, a former Herb Companion editor, is a freelance writer who spends her time writing about and enjoying the scent, flavor and beauty of herbs.

Candle Making Resources

Candle Websites:

General Wax And Candle Co. Factory Outlet Store
(800) 929-7867

Glory Bee Natural Foods
(800) 456-7923

Knorr Beeswax
(800) 807-2337

National Candle Association
(202) 393-2210

Peak Candle Making Supplies
(888) 878-5181

Candle Making Books:

The Handmade Candle by Alison Jenkins.
Storey Books, 2001.

Candlemaking for Fun And Profit by Mischelle Espino. Prima Publishing, 2000.

The Book of Candlemaking: Creating Scent, Beauty And Light by Chris Larking. Sterling Publishing Co., 1998.

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