Essential Oil Candles - An Introduction
What is it about essential oil 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 all my girlfriends 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.
Essential oils are extracted from flowers, herbs, leaves, roots, bark, seeds, fruits, and other plant parts. And aromatherapy has been practiced since ancient times.
What is an Essential Oil Candle?
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.
Essential oils are safe and natural when used responsibly. And not just in candles. Essential oils can be used to treat minor ailments, such as cold sores, headaches, and sore muscles. You can also use them to help with stress relief, improve sleep quality, and even boost energy levels.
What is the Difference between Essential Oils & Fragrance in Candles?
Candles can be scented with pure essential oils or candle fragrance. Essential oils all come from the same place, irrespective of which essential oil they are, they are directly derived from the plant of herb and are completely natural. The difference is that orange essential oil for example is derived from the peel and lavender essential oil is derived from lavender flowers.
A fragrance oil can be made up of different components, and these are usually synthetic. They can replicate scents that do not occur naturally in nature, for example cashmere, or winter berry.
They can also imitate essential oils, eg cedarwood or rose. The difference is that a rose or cedarwood fragrance will be significantly cheaper than a pure essential oil, and it is not always easy to tell what is in your candle. These much cheaper candles also usually paraffin wax instead of natural wax, and synthetic colourants.
What are the Benefits of Using Essential Oils in Candles?
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.
Essential Oils in Candles - Quality is Key
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.