Light Up Your Life: Naturally Scented Candles

| October/November 1994

• DIY:  How To Make an Herb-Infused Candle  

Heat releases fragrance. That’s obvious when you stand in the herb garden on a warm afternoon and breathe deeply, or wander through the kitchen when herbs are simmering in a pot on the stove and the aroma is tantalizing. ­Another way to enjoy the relationship between herbs and warmth and fragrance is to bring your herbs close to a flame by incorporating them into candles.

The mood created by candlelight is enhanced beautifully by the gentle hint of scent that an herbal candle sends forth. Whether it accompanies the cup of tea you sip at the end of a hectic day or confers an intimate ambience at the dinner table, a candle can soften the edges of your day. You’ll find many uses for handcrafted candles that use herbs for both scent and decoration, and they make thoughtful gifts. Fortunately, they’re easy and fun to make.

Herbs and flowers can be used to dye the wax with rich and subtle earthy colors as described in Jo Lohmolder’s “Naturally Colored Candles” (October/ November 1989). This time, however, we used herbs and essential oils to embellish and scent candles, and we opted for an easier dye method or left the wax undyed, letting it dry to white with a glossy, translucent finish. Here are a few ideas to get you started on herbal candle making.

The Scent

Scent has been an important element throughout the long history of candle making. Scented candles were often associated with religious ceremonies, and when the Roman emperor Constantine the Great built the first church of Christendom, he ordered that scented wax candles be kept burning there continually. Perfumed ­candles set into glass fixtures were a hallmark of upper-class homes in eighteenth-century Georgian England. The New World provided its own variations on the scented candle, intro­ducing an excellent candle-making material, bayberry. Today, a simple, fragrant candle in a soft, natural color and a graceful shape is still beautiful and functional.

Adding scent to a candle can be accomplished in several ways. Because everyone reacts differently to scent, do experiment to find the degree of fragrance that pleases you most. For the strongest scent, use more than one of the following techniques.

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