Aromatherapy Candles - The Ultimate Guide
What is it about candles? Taking a bath, sofa slumping with a glass of wine, or having friends around. All are the perfect opportunity to engage in a spot of sensory indulgence in my book.
My friend's husband is convinced candles are the work of the devil and likens them to literally setting light to crisp shiny bank notes. But ask most women and they will tell you they are more akin to life's little joys - especially within the landscape of survival mode, which we all seem to exhibit.
Of course I am biased. I have spent years creating the perfect essential oil blends to go into our award winning luxury aromatherapy candles. Paraffin free, palm free and jam packed with the most beautiful essential oils.
So what goes into a really good candle, and what does the aromatherapy bit do?
Candles are not so different to the food you eat or the ingredients you slap on your skin. A really good candle will be packed with beautifully therapeutic essential oils and made with a pure natural wax, not the cheaper, less clean burning paraffin wax. Not to mention burning without polluting the air in our homes.
No pink, glittery cupcake frosting sick inducing candles here.
More than a quarter of British households now buy scented candles, according to research company Kantar, with spend up 22 per cent between 2014 and 2015. Today the market is worth an extraordinary £90 million.
Aromatherapy uses essential oils from plants which have powerful effects on emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
Essential oils are extracted from the plant or herb and one of the reasons why they are so powerful is that they are the essence from that plant and are super concentrated. It takes about 60 roses to produce just 1 drop of rose essential oil.
The aroma comes from volatile compounds inside the plant and it is these aromatic molecules which interact with sensors in your nose and pores in your skin.
None of this is new. Aromatherapy has been a trusted practice the world over for over 5000 years.
The science-y bit.
Studies have shown that aromatherapy oils can have a stimulating and sedative effect on the nervous system and immune system. It is thought that the fragrant essential oils positively impact the part of our brain called the limbic system which helps control our emotions and behaviour.
The limbic system interacts with our brain and helps control breathing, stress levels, memory and hormone balance amongst others.
When you breathe in that first hit of scent, that is the volatile compounds doing their thing. Ever been in a situation where a particular smell evokes a vivid memory from your past? That's the aroma interacting with the limbic system.
The word 'olfactory' comes from the Latin 'olfacere' to smell, and it is via the olfactory nerve that the magic happens. The inside of your nose is formed of special nerve cells that connect direct to the brain via the olfactory nerves.
Our olfactory nerves are made up of tiny fibres and cilia, tiny hairs on the tip. As air passes through our nostrils, it passes over and touches on the cilia, which in turns sends a signal to our brain to register the smell. The process is incredibly complex and understanding the science behind our ability to smell is ever developing.
An aroma activates your olfactory nerves and goes directly into your body, lungs and bloodstream.
Essential oils can also enter your skin via creams and oils and bring another whole host of benefits.
Stress busting & helping you relax
Studies have shown that essential oils in particular lavender promote relaxation and help reduce anxiousness and can depress activation of the nervous system response, which usually result in a racing heart or sweaty palms. Which is exactly why we add a generous slug of pure lavender to our No 5 blend, Peace.
One study from the Journal of Advanced Nursing found that patients who received aromatherapy reported significantly greater improvement in their mood and perceived levels of anxiety and felt less anxious and more positive immediately following the therapy.
For de-stressing, try The Rose Tree No 1 with stress relieving geranium and uplifting juniper and balancing organic patchouli for a beautiful rosy scent with green overtones that gently de-stresses and relaxes you when you need it most.
In need of some calm and TLC? Let The Rose Tree No 7 with its deliciously feminine ylang ylang coupled with our beautiful geranium envelop you in a blanket of calm.
After something more comforting and homely? Try The Rose Tree No 12 with it's rich, and warming blend of uplifting organic orange combined with exhaustion relieving cinnamon and concentration boosting rosemary and clove will restore and revitalise you.
Essential Oil Quality
Essential oils are expensive, one of our standard sized candles contains up to 15ml of pure essential oils; liken that to those little bottles of essential oils you can buy, typically they are 5ml bottles - so the equivalent of up to 3 of those in one our standard candles alone.
But trust me they are worth it, the pay off is a great scent throw, in other words not another natural candle where you can't actually smell anything, and some serious therapeutic benefits.
Like anything worth having, natural aromatherapy candles are open to abuse as they become increasingly popular. Synthetic fragrances, scents and 'parfum' which by their very nature cannot be an essential oil, are finding their way into candles and skincare. If you want real essential oils, here are couple of tips:
- The words fragrance oil, or perfume, are usually bad news; steer well clear, these are not essential oils and not usually natural.
- Fragrance oils are cheap, but there is a catch, they won't have the same healing or aromatherapy benefits as real essential oils. Because they are made synthetically, almost any fragrance can be made. Examples of fragrance oils that cannot be extracted as essential oils include strawberry, melon, apple etc.
- Essential oils should be labelled as 100% pure - anything less and it could be adulterated with anything (none of it good).
- Pure essential oils are usually stored in dark glass. Due to their potency they can react with plastic containers, and dark glass is important as they are sensitive to light and can deteriorate if exposed.
Because we use a customised blend of pure vegetable wax, and an unbleached cotton wick, you will not get any of the harmful fumes that you get with paraffin or mineral waxes. That said, there are still things you can do to maximise the life of your candle - and get the best from it.
Candle Burning Tips
The wick is the key to a great candle - it acts as the fuel delivery system, pulling the melted wax upwards to be burnt in the flame. Too large a wick and the candle will burn with too big a flame, too little and it will struggle to burn and may go out. The Rose Tree luxury organic candles have been tested extensively, to deliver the perfect marriage of wax, wick and essential oils.
When you burn any quality candle, especially the first time, aim to burn it for between 2-4 hours. You want to burn it for long enough so that the wax melts all the way out to the edges, if you burn if for a shorter time, the wax will burn in a narrower circle and will eventually 'tunnel' wasting some of your precious wax and therapeutic essential oils.
Before re-lighting your candle check the length of the wick, and trim if necessary. You are aiming for the wick to be approximately 1cm. Burning with a wick that is too long, increases the chance of having a flame that is too large and may damage the candle glass, and leave black marks on the glass.
A specialist wick trimmer is good, which allows for easy trimming and collects the wick trimmings so you don't get floating bits in your lovely candle. A small pair of scissors will also do the job, but you just to be careful to catch the wick trimmings. (This needs to be done when the candle is cold before you burn it!).
When putting out your candle, you can always just blow, but be careful not to blow hot wax everywhere. If you want to get fancy, try using a candle snuffer.