Healthy Scented Candles

by Janice Welch

As we head into the holiday season you can’t help but be bombarded with fragrances in every store or home you enter. The rooms are filled with artificially scented cinnamon,
pumpkin, apple, etc. I don’t wish my home to smell like these places, yet I do yearn for a different smell in my home besides steamed broccoli and cauliflower (my son’s favorite
vegetables). Essence of Cabbage is not my idea of a Holiday Scent.

So in my quest for a delicious natural-smelling house, I have opted for the scents of essential oils. There are many great little oil heaters and ceramic rings for the oils, but none of these fit in well with my personal taste. I love candles. The warmth they add to a room at the holidays is unparalleled in my opinion.

The problem with candles is that 99% of what you find in stores is made from paraffin. Paraffin is the leftover by-product from the petroleum refining process. This petroleum by-product releases harmful carcinogens into the atmosphere when burned. It produces toxic black, sticky petrol-carbon soot, which I am sure you have noticed when a candle is burned next to a white wall. This same soot is also inhaled into your lungs. Couple this with the fact that many wicks are made with lead or zinc, neither of which should be inhaled, and you have your own health hazard.

Now if you find yourself fretting that you will never have the ambiance of a candlelit dinner, don’t despair. There are alternatives. Although I have not found many at stores (Whole Foods has a few), the Internet is full of healthy candle makers. I have ordered 100% soy, palm and beeswax candles and been very pleased with all of them. They all have either 100% cotton or hemp wicks, and they are very clean-burning with no oily soot emissions.

Many of these candles are sold already scented. Steer clear of artificial fragrances; inhaling these chemicals is not good for you either. If you truly want a scented candle try one scented with 100% essential oils. The only problem I have found with these is that they are not good at holding their essential oil fragrance and therefore are not very effective at scenting a room.

So my favorite way to scent a room naturally and enjoy my candles for the holiday season is to create my own scented candle. Simply purchase an unscented, undyed soy candle (or other vegetable wax candle) with a cotton or hemp wick. Burn the candle for at least five minutes or until there is a pool of wax at the wick and snuff out the candle. Add some drops of your favorite essential oils into the melted wax and carefully relight the candle with a match (not one of those powerful handheld lighters; they can ignite the oil). It is very important to add the oil to the melted wax, because the oils are very flammable and will burn immediately if added directly to the flame.

This process lets you control the scent and the strength of the scent every time you light the candle. My favorite combination this time of year for my living area is equal drops of
cinnamon, clove, and peppermint oils.

Citrus oils are the easiest to burn, so you may want to stick to only the spicy and minty scents for candles. But feel free to use citrus or any of the essential oils in other simple
ways. For instance, add some drops to a cotton ball and drop in the bottom of the wastebasket, or in your dresser drawers, or add some drops to an old (but clean) washcloth and put it in the dryer with your clothes. Happy Scenting!

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