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.
Essential oils can be purchased at your local natural foods or
herb store as well as by mail order from many of the companies
mentioned in this magazine. (Caution: Choose essential oils from a
reputable source that bottles only pure essential oil.) A good
starting point for your oil/wax ratio is one teaspoon for every
pound of wax. Don’t use more than one tablespoon per pound of wax
or you may have pools of oil in the finished candle.
Note: All equipment should only be used for candle making.
1 double boiler (or one large pot that a coffee can will fit
into as a melting pot)
Paraffin wax (enough to fill your mold)
1 ice pick
1 pot holder
1 small metal washer
1 candle mold
1 paper core wick
1 chopstick, skewer or long nail (for resting across the top of
the mold to hold wick)
My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the
night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends It gives a lovely light!
— St. Edna Vincent Millay
Start by covering your working area with a thick layer of
newspaper. Never pour candles in your sink: Any wax that splashes
out could clog your drain. Fill the large pot one quarter full of
water and put it on a medium-low heat. Determine how much wax you
will need to fill your container and place this amount of wax in
your melting pot and add a little extra wax to this to use as your
second pour. Four ounces should be enough. Then place your melting
pot inside your large water-filled pot. It should barely float.
Stir occasionally while the wax melts and check the temperature of
the wax with the thermometer. Never heat paraffin wax over 200
degrees and never leave your melting wax unattended. Overheated wax
can catch fire.
While you wait for the wax to melt, grind your herbs if you’re
using them as your colorant. Cut the wick long enough to tie around
the middle of your wick bar and tie the metal washer to the other
end. Suspended the wick bar over the center of the candle
container. The washer will weigh the wick down to the bottom and
center of the mold.
When the wax has melted, remove it from the heat and allow it to
cool — not so cool it hardens but just above the melting point of
the wax. The cooler the temperature at which you add the essential
oil, the more fragrance your finished candle will have.
If you’re using herbs or color, add them first. (Follow package
directions for adding commercial colorant.) Stir gently. Then add
essential oils and stir just enough to mix them in. Pour the liquid
wax gently into your container, creating as few bubbles as
possible. Allow to cool undisturbed for approximately one hour.
Then, with the ice pick, make three holes adjacent to the wick.
Push the ice pick down almost to the bottom of the container. This
will open up any air pockets that formed during the cooling
process. Now warm up the leftover wax to fill in the air pockets
and level the surface of your candle. Pour just enough to level the
top of your candle. Allow to cool overnight.
There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out
the light of even one small candle. — Robert Alden
Untie the wick from the wick bar and remove it. Trim wick to 1/4
inch. You now have a beautiful aromatherapy candle. The scent will
be gentle when you burn it, and if you ever need more scent, just
add a drop or two of essential oil to the melted wax pool around
the flame. This will give you an abundance of fragrance.
Marguerite King is a medicinal herbalist who owns and operates
The Herb Patch Nursery & Soapworks in Pocatello, ID.
SCENTED CANDLE SOURCES
Bear Creek Candle Company
P.O. Box 3425
Evergreen, CO 80437
Way Out Wax
251 Harrel St., Ste. C
Morrisville, VT 05661
2433 University Ave. #D
Madison, WI 53726
Candles and Supplies.com, Inc.
500 Commerce Dr.
Quakertown, PA 18951
Memphis, TN 38112