Aromatherapy Gift idea: Aromatherapy Candles
Aromatherapy candles are a popular gift for several reasons:
- many people don’t have an oil burner, but they usually have a candle holder – or you can make the candle in a jar or glass so that a holder isn’t needed
- aromatherapy candles provide ambiance and scent to a room for as long as you wish, extinguishing and relighting them when required
- the scent from an aromatherapy candle is much nicer than most air fresheners and similar scents used in the home
- careful selection can make an aromatherapy candle therapeutic, not just nice to smell
- it works out cheaper than buying them
- a (nicely crafted) hand made gift is always more popular than something you bought
What you will need
Equipment for melting and pouring wax
A good candle making supply house will have a selection of different options. A double boiler is the safest method, and beeswax can only be melted in this way. Discount Candle Shop offers a wax melting kit for $52.50 which includes a pourer, double boiler, and thermometer, a saving of some $13 on the price if you bought everything individually. That’s a good investment, and you can it use over and over again.
You can melt soy wax in the microwave if you have a non-metallic container that can take the potential temperatures, but this is a dangerous option because wax will burst into flames if it gets too hot, which won’t happen with a double boiler so long as you keep the water topped up.
Wax can reach temperatures up to 300º F, and the containers will reach similar temperatures, so you will need to handle them with some kind of insulated holder, such as oven gloves or pan holders.
You’ll need a wooden spoon to stir in the dye if you’re using it, and the fragrance. A metal spoon isn’t really suitable because the wax will be very hot, and the metal will transmit heat to your fingers. However, once you’ve used it for candlemaking, you won’t be able to use the wooden spoon for anything else without a great deal of work, so it’s probably best to dedicate a particular implement to candlemaking.
Mold or container
The advantage with mold is that it can be used many times, whereas obviously a container can only be reused once the contents have been used up. On the other hand, if you want to give a homemade candle to someone who may not have a candle holder of the appropriate size, making it in a container means that there’s no need to worry.
When selecting containers for this purpose make sure that they don’t have a long neck, which may cause a fire hazard. Also avoid tumblers with thin glass walls, which may break if they get hot, releasing the wax and again causing a fire hazard.
Beeswax or soy wax flakes/pellets
Paraffin wax is not suitable for aromatherapy because it produces carcinogens and also soot which can stain walls and ceilings. Since most cheaper candles are made from paraffin wax, the suggestion on some other sites that you melt down cheap candles is probably best ignored. Buying soy or beeswax candles and then melting them would almost certainly end up being more expensive than buying the flakes or pellets sold in candle supply stores.
Soy wax and beeswax flakes or pellets (sometimes blocks) are readily available. Of the two, beeswax burns for the longest time. Soy wax is quite a soft wax and may benefit from the addition of a percentage of beeswax, particular if you live in a warmer part of the world.
Other types of wax are sometimes offered, including palm oil wax. I cannot recommend palm oil wax for use in aromatherapy candles, because the production of palm oil is a major cause of deforestation, and without forests, there will be a (maybe not so gradual) reduction in oxygen – and without oxygen, candles won’t burn!
Wax dye (optional)
If you want a green candle, or any color apart from the color of the wax you start out with, you will need to add coloring. It is best to buy the proper wax dye from your candle supply house and follow the instructions on the packet. Note that there’s a difference between dye and other types of candle coloring: dye can be used to change the color of the whole candle, but pigments are not suitable for this, as they don’t melt and may interfere with the way the candle burns.
You don’t need much! About 3-4 drops of 100% pure aromatherapy oil to every cup of wax flakes will be enough.
Wick and wick clips
Wick comes in many different styles and pack sizes, from reels of the wick to ready cut-to-length wicks for different sizes of a candle. Wick clips are used to hold the wick in place at the bottom of the candle and come in bags of several hundred. An alternative I’ve seen is a glue dot, which is used to glue the wick to the bottom of the mold or container. Oddly, though, glue dots seem to be quite a bit more expensive than wick clips.
A wick holder is used to hold the wick straight in the mold or container while the wax sets. The ones I’ve seen seem quite expensive for what they are, but you can use anything from a lolly stick, wooden plant label or craft stick to a pencil for this purpose.
What to do?
Gather your materials and equipment together and prepare a working area. A kitchen worktop would be fine, but if you will be working on a piece of furniture which matters to you, cover it with several layers of newspaper to avoid hot wax splashing onto it and damaging the finish.
Measure out the amount of wax you will be using and work out how much aromatherapy oil you will need (and dye if you’re using it). Put the wax into your melter but don’t add the dye or fragrance yet. Add water to the double boiler (if that’s what you’re using) and turn on the melter.
Set out your containers or molds on the newspaper or another heatproof surface. Put a wick into each.
After the wax has melted completely, turn off the melter and add the dye chip, stirring well to get the color well distributed, being careful not to splash yourself.
Add 3-4 drops of aromatherapy oil to the melted wax for each cup of wax flakes and mix in well.
Using heat-proof gloves or pan holders, take the wax container out of the melter and pour wax carefully into each container or mold. Pour as slowly and carefully as you can, to avoid air bubbles. Take care not to knock the bottom of the wick out of position as you pour, or you’ll end up with very strange results!
When full, tap the side of the mold/container to encourage any bubbles that have occurred to float up to the surface.
Wrap the top part of the wick around the wick holder and put it across the top of the mold/container to keep the wick straight while the wax goes cold.
Return the wax container to the melter and move the filled molds/containers to a cool place, using pot holders/oven gloves to pick them up.
Check the candles every so often as they set. Large diameter candles will probably sink in the middle as they cool. If so, top-up now and then so you don’t end up with a hollow candle.
Candles will take some time to set. The largest ones might take as long as 24 hours, so don’t get it out of the mold too quick or it might collapse into an unattractive heap. Once set, remove the mold to reveal the results.
Trim the wick to about a half-inch (1-2 cm).
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