Enhance Your Mood

Enjoy the soothing aroma of herbs in handmade, garden-scented candles.

| February/March 2005

Spring is springing and wonderful scents from the herb gardens surround me. Some of these aromas lift my spirits, while others put me in a thoughtful mood. Some scents give me energy and still others seem to clear out whatever’s congested, from my sinus passages to the thoughts lodged in my head. Many people recognize this phenomenon as aromatherapy. To me, it’s a way of life. I plant peppermint near my front door to give me a lift each morning. Lavender grows near my back bedroom window to relax me to sleep on warm summer nights.

Everyone can enjoy and benefit from these scents in the bath, a dream pillow or — my favorite — in handmade candles. Candles are easy to make and you can blend just the right aromatherapy scents for the benefits you want to achieve. If you are unclear about the candle-making process and what oils to choose, read on. We’ll give you detailed instructions, list some essential oils along with their therapeutic value and a few blending suggestions.


The first thing to consider in making candles by hand is what type of wax to use. Because you will be using essential oils that release their fragrance quickly when heated, purchase a paraffin wax with the lowest melting point possible. This is usually around 130 degrees. Don’t use paraffin from the supermarket. This wax is for sealing jars and does not work well for candles. Visit your local craft store and purchase a high quality paraffin wax.

Although it’s possible to use beeswax for herbal candles, it melts at a higher temperature than paraffin and will cause the essential oils to evaporate more quickly.

Among the candle-making supplies, you’ll find colorants, along with an array of commercial fragrances. Only essential oils will provide the benefits of aromatherapy and burn cleanly, so check the labels of bottled fragrances before you buy. As for colorant, I like to use dried, powdered herbs in my wax. I use approximately one tablespoon of herb to one pound of wax. This usually produces a pretty green color. Many times I use no color at all. The color chips you can find at the craft store are easy to use, give bright beautiful color, and they won’t interfere with the aromatic benefits of your candle.

As for the container to use as a candle mold, almost anything fireproof and wide-mouthed will do. Sturdy glass, ceramic and metal are all suitable. Just be sure it doesn’t leak and isn’t flammable. You will also need to purchase a paper core wick. These come in small, medium or large, according to the diameter of the container you will be using.

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