Essential oils have the power to transform you and your space. A good-smelling essential oil candle offers a warm glow, subtle aromatherapy, and an impeccably clean and well-decorated house to boot! It could turn resting into meditation and prayer into devotion. So, if you find joy in making DIY candles, this guide has everything you need to know about essential oils for candles.
Essential oils for candles
Candles have been used for as long as anyone can remember to provide light and aromatherapy. But, we've come so far in terms of scented candles. Nowadays, everyone uses scented candles as an in-house decorative accessory to add a personal touch to one's home. They diffuse a pleasant aroma in our house and lift our mood.
Moreover, scented candles are evocative! They can cross the blood-barrier in the brain and bring up a wellspring of fond memories from your grandmother’s kitchen or memories of sifting your feet through white sand on a far-off exotic island. Coming back to the subject, what exactly makes a scented candle a premium luxury?
Yes, you’ve guessed it right. The essential oils!
Essential oils are concentrated extracts of different parts of plant, flower, leaves, stem, or roots obtained through steam distillation. They impart a clean and natural aroma to our surroundings. Essential oils are also well-known for their therapeutic effects in aromatherapy. Inhaling clean-smelling essential oils can have a soothing effect on our nerves.
However, most store-bought essential oil soy candles don’t always turn out perfect. You may ask why? Because they contain synthetic fragrances. Even though synthetic fragrance oil is a blend of natural or chemical ingredients to give you a nice olfactive effect, it does not offer any healing benefits.
Why use those candles when you can make your own natural essential oil candles at home? These candles are sure to comfort both your soul and spirit!
Ingredients for making essential oil candles
Some candle-making companies use paraffin wax, strong artificial fragrances, and lead-cored wicks. Burning these petroleum-laden candles with heavy metal wicks can release toxic fumes into the atmosphere and adversely affect your lungs. Luckily, you can avoid this hazard by burning clean candles made with quality ingredients. Plant-based waxes, lead-free wicks, and natural fragrances!
Before you choose the best essential oils for candles, let’s choose the right wax. While you might not think about it, all waxes hold their fragrances differently. The softer the wax, the more scent-throw it will offer!
The paraffin wax, for example, is unscented and burns quickly. On the other hand, soy candle burns slowly, allowing more fragrance to permeate through the atmosphere.
If you’re concerned about whether your candle wax contains phthalates or not? Does it produce soot? What kind of fragrance will it release? And how long will it burn? Read on to learn the answers.
Artificial and natural waxes
There are two main categories of waxes; Artificial and Natural waxes. Paraffin and liquid or gel waxes are artificial waxes. Whereas, beeswax, soy wax, palm wax, or sunflower wax are some of the natural waxes.
The conventional paraffin wax is a petrochemical by-product with a high melting point. High melting temperature makes paraffin wax durable for long pillar candles or taper candles. Paraffin wax is inexpensive and readily available. But the use of fossil-oil-based candles has now become obsolete.
Burning a mineral oil wax releases toxic chemicals, some of which are highly carcinogenic. Also, the petroleum scent of wax masks the smell of essential oil. So, paraffin wax is a big no for making essential oil candles.
Liquid or gel waxes
Liquid waxes are made of mineral oils or liquid paraffin, whereas gel wax is a combination of mineral oil and thermoplastic polymer resin in a 95:5 ratio. The liquid wax or gel wax candles are most sought after because of their aesthetic appeal. The candles burn twice as long as traditional (paraffin) candles.
Liquid wax candles or gel wax candles are also not a great choice for making candles with essential oils. Why? Because they do not blend perfectly with the essential oil. To make scented candles in gel wax, the fragrance has to be non-polar. And that is not the case with essential oils.
Beeswax is very popular in candle making. The animal-based wax comes in either natural yellow color or bleached white. It has a higher melting point (149 ℉). Beeswax candle burns with a warm golden glow.
Since beeswax gives off a pleasant honey aroma, blending essential oils in wax would significantly enhance its scent. Beeswax candle burns clean without producing toxic soot. Rather it absorbs harmful pollutants from the atmosphere. Beeswax is the most expensive of the waxes and is ideal for making luxurious container candles.
Bayberry wax, also known as waxberry or candle berry, is another plant-based candle wax. This sage-green-colored wax has a naturally refreshing herbal aroma. Bayberry wax is hard in itself and thus makes a good fit for making free-standing candles. Mix bayberry wax with soft waxes like beeswax to make container candles. Many people around the world adore these candles and preserve them for special occasions.
Palm oil wax
Palm oil wax is obtained from fatty acids of the oil palm trees. The wax is thicker than other waxes, so the candles burn for longer hours. The candles would make a statement when blended with essential oils. But I don’t recommend using this wax for all the sustainable reasons!
The popularity of plant-based waxes is reaching sky heights for their non-pollutant nature. Soy wax is one of the cleanest-burning candles. With a cool burning temperature, soy wax blends perfectly with the essential oil and is long-lasting. Soy wax candle is a sustainable replacement of mineral wax or paraffin wax candles as long as it is obtained from non-GMO soy crops.
You can also choose from other plant-based waxes such as rapeseed wax and sunflower wax to make vegan candles. These waxes are also non-GMO, contain no additives, and have high melting points.
We will be using soy wax in our step-by-step guide for making candles with essential oils at the bottom of the blog.
Natural wicks help to diffuse essential oils better
You may choose the best essential oils for candles, but choosing a hot-burning wick helps in the amazing scent throw of these oils. The selection of the wick depends on the type of wax. And the size of the wick depends on the size of the candle you’re going to make.
Use natural wicks like hemp, cotton, or wooden wicks. These wicks burn to release more oil into the atmosphere. Avoid lead-cored wicks as they are toxic for your health.
Long-lasting waxes such as beeswax require a large-sized wick. Flat-braided wicks are better for taper candles. Square-braided wicks suit pillar candles. And paper-core wicks are ideal for small-sized candles, but they can produce smoke.
You can work out the size of your wick by holding it next to the container and adding two inches to cut out the perfect wick for your candles.
Fragrance oil Vs. Essential oil: Which is better for candles
Fragrance oil and essential oil differ only in their ingredients and the source of those ingredients. Essential oils are highly concentrated fragrant essence of plants obtained through steam distillation. On the other hand, synthetic fragrance oils are produced in the lab with chemical compounds.
Essential oil candles have been used in aromatherapy throughout history for their healing properties. Oils from lavender, cedarwood, geranium, rosemary, ylang-ylang, lemongrass, cinnamon, patchouli, lemon, vetiver, clove, etc., have become very popular in aromatherapy as well as for making scented candles.
The aroma of the essential oils can be uplifting, refreshing, or relaxing to the mind. More importantly, essential oil candles enhance spiritual or physical well-being.
Although artificial fragrance oil smells stronger than essential oils, fragrance oil candles lack aromatherapy benefits.
The shelf life of essential oil is longer than the fragrance oils. Therefore, use 100 percent pure essential oil paired with natural soy wax to make a natural candle. This will ensure a strong scent throughout the useful life of the candle.
Read on to find out the best essential oils for candles. In the coming sections, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of using essential oils in candles. Moreover, you will learn how much oil you should add to your candles, and at what temperature. Stay with us to get to the bottom of it.
Our list of best essential oils for candles
Selecting the best essential oils for candles is as important as choosing the right wax and wick to make the best essential oil candles. Each oil has its own distinctive wellness benefits depending on the plant it is obtained from. However, some oils lend themselves to candle making than others.
For candle-making, you can choose your favorite oil from different families of essential oils. These include floral, herbal, woodsy, citrus, mint, and spice. You can also choose the fragrance that goes well with the season, such as cinnamon in fall, sandalwood in winters, geranium in spring, and bright citrus fragrances in summer.
You can always blend two or more essential oils in your scent profile for a strong scent throw. The fragrances of essential oil blends in candles can be categorized as top, heart, and base notes.
Top notes are first to appear, light-smelling, and short-lived. They usually dissipate within a few minutes. Heart notes make up most of the fragrance. Middle notes are highly aromatic and are noticeable as the top notes melt into them. Base notes add depth to the candle aroma and linger for longer than six hours. Incorporate oils from all families and categories to make your homemade candles smell stronger.
Here are our top picks of popular essential oils for scenting your candles.
Tangy, citrus essential oils can be your go-to summer fragrances. The citrus family includes orange, lime, lemon, mandarin, grapefruit, lemongrass, tangerine, bergamot, and yuzu. The invigorating scent of citrus essential oils qualifies as top notes.
Lemon essential oils
The freshest and brightest fragrance of lemon zest would stimulate your nerves and imparts clarity to the mind. Burning candles made with lemon essential is a great way to create a clean and vibrant atmosphere in your house. It will cleanse your space of unwanted odors, leaving you with a fresh aroma that will have a lasting impression o your guest.
Bergamot essential oil
Technically an orange, bergamot belongs to the citrus family. The oil from peel and extract from the fruit juice gives it a peculiar sweet-yet-tart fragrance. It smells heavenly refreshing. Let your anxiety dissipate with the refreshing aroma of bergamot. A favorite among the citrus-lover, bergamot oil is surely one of the best essential oils for making candles. This versatile oil pairs well with other floral and herbal notes in an essential oil blend.
Citronella or Lemongrass essential oil
Lemongrass, also touted as citronella, is another refreshing citrus-scented essential oil, just like lemon oil. The sharp yet sweet lemony aroma instantly refreshes your surrounding. Citronella oil is an excellent choice for repelling mosquitoes in your garden, making citronella essential oil candles a must-have for every household.
Eucalyptus essential oils
Eucalyptus essential oil has a distinctive camphorous, minty scent that qualifies as middle notes in making candles. Lighting eucalyptus-scented candles eliminate odors and rejuvenate spirits. In aromatherapy, it is known to relieve mental exhaustion, nasal congestion, and cold.
Peppermint essential oil
One of the world’s most versatile oils, the delightful scent of peppermint oil is usually associated with winters. It is more than a breath freshener, lip balm, or food flavorer. Use peppermint oil in your essential oil candle for a cool and calming sensation.
Chamomile essential oils
Chamomile is my personal favorite! It is known for soothing nerves, toning down irritability, and reducing discomfort. This delicately sweet fragrance is proven to rescue you from temper tantrums, depression, and sluggishness. Chamomile oil blends well with other essential oils like lavender and ylang-ylang.
Cinnamon essential oils
Cinnamon oil qualifies as middle and base notes in essential oil candles. It has the most potent aroma of all spicy fragrances. The warming scent evokes the memories of holidays. Cinnamon oil mixes well with clove essential oil for a potent spicy aroma.
Clary sage essential oils
Clary sage is another refreshing, herbal oil that has made its way onto our list of the best essential oils for making essential oil candles. The subtle, uplifting aroma of clary sage alleviates stress and boosts up your mood.
Geranium essential oils
The geranium essential oil will diffuse a rose-like fragrance in your surrounding. It is a wonderful choice for making essential oil candles that you can use as an emotional restorative during a tiring summer day. The uplifting fragrance is good for relieving stress.
Jasmine essential oils
The warm and exotic aroma of jasmine is known for its soothing and comforting effect. It winds its way to troubled hearts, where it restores lower moods and boosts energy and confidence.
Lavender essential oils
Lavender oil is the most well-known and well-loved amongst all. The top notes of lavender essential oil allow your mind and body to experience a sense of calm and restfulness. It uplifts moods and calms our spirits. Inhaling lavender oil improves sleep and a sense of wellbeing, making it one of the best essential oils for candle making!
Rosemary essential oils
Popularly known as a culinary herb, rosemary is a favorite among candle lovers. The woodsy fragrance is considered a mainstay in aromatherapy. It helps fight stress and anxiety and strengthens the body. The aroma is soothing, mood-balancing, and sedating. It is also said to be good for memory.
Tea Tree essential oil
Next on our list of versatile essential oils is tea tree essential oils. The essential oil has a peppermint-like, woody, and spicy aroma that wards off flying insects and bad aroma from your house. It is particularly studied for its anti-bacterial and insect-repellent properties.
Ylang-ylang essential oils
Ylang-ylang is a sedating floral fragrance. This sweet-smelling essential oil has a calming effect on your nerves and helps offset feelings of anger, anxiety, and depression.
Cedar essential oil
With its woody, evergreen smell, cedar oil is popular in essential oils for making candles. The aroma is inherently cozy and grounding. It is believed to reduce stress and promote sound sleep. Cedarwood essential oil candle is ideal for stressed-out and tired souls to unwind at the end of the day. It helps clear the mental clutter and boosts confidence. Cedar oil is also loved for its bug-repellent properties.
Frankincense Essential oils
The king of the oils, frankincense, is one of the strongest and versatile essential oils. The soft and balsamic notes make it an excellent addition as a base note to your candles. The woody-spicy aroma of frankincense oil will bring back to mind the joyful memories of the holiday season. Blend it with myrrh to beat anxiety, stimulate the nervous system, and enjoy the aromatherapy benefits
Patchouli essential oil
The bold and earthy fragrance, Patchouli, belongs to the same group as lavender: the middle or base notes. Patchouli oil is an ultimate mood booster and has a grounding effect on nerves. The sedative properties of oil allow you to enjoy better sleep at night.
Sandalwood essential oil
Sandalwood is one of the top three most expensive trees in the world, so is its oil. The strong earthy fragrance of Sandalwood is often described as grounding, comforting, and calming. It creates a peaceful ambiance and is thus widely used in religious practices around the world. Sandalwood oil also helps dispel stress and hypertension.
The possibilities are endless when making candles with essential oils!
Pros and Cons of using essential oils for candles
- The most significant benefit of using essential oils for candles is that they are 100 percent pure and natural. Essential oils are valued for their unique fragrances and therapeutic benefits.
- Many studies have highlighted that calming essential oils like lavender can help relieve anxiety, blood pressure and improves your overall mood.
- Refreshing citrus essential oils stimulate your senses and improve focus. It will make you feel more energized to perform daily chores.
Like most things, there are many downsides to using essential oils for candles.
- Some essential oils have little to no hot scent throw. To put it another way, you might need to blend them with complementary fragrances for a strong scent throw.
- Some essential oils might degrade when the candle burns to higher temperatures. This also results in a poor scent throw.
Supplies for making candles with essential oils
Before you start making your essential oil candles, there are a few main ingredients you will need to have on hand. The majority of these supplies can be easily bought from a local thrift store, or you can buy online. The following ingredients are necessary for making essential oil candles:
- Candle wax
- Candle wicks
- Essential Oils
- Candle containers
- Wax measuring cups
- Double boiler
- Wooden spoon or silicone spatula
- Candle-making accessories like thermometer, scissors, clothespins
- Stove or microwave
- Microwave-safe bowl
How to make DIY candles with essential oils
As we have already discussed, different waxes hold fragrances differently. Choose a slow-burning plant-based wax like soy wax. Also, essential oils are slightly less fragrant than synthetic fragrances. Therefore, a slow-burning wax will diffuse the oils slowly into the atmosphere, so you can smell your candle for longer hours.
Melt the soy wax flakes
Set up a double-boiler and heat the wax to 180 ℉. You can use a glass thermometer or an infrared thermometer for monitoring temperature. Make sure the wax melts completely, leaving no pallets behind.
Add essential oils at the right temperature
The best thing about DIY essential oil candles is the freedom to mix and match essential oil at different fragrance loads. It is important to add essential oil at the right temperature to get the maximum fragrance. The recommended temperature for adding essential oils to soy wax is 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Afterward, allow the wax to cool to a lower temperature.
Some essential oils have a milder aroma than others. So, you might find their scent lacking when it comes to essential oil candles. Therefore, mix two or three oils for a strong, noticeable scent whenever you light it.
Attach the wick to the bottom
You’ve made the best decision with soy wax and essential oils. Soy wax is incredible at holding onto the scent and releasing it slowly over time. However, it has a cool burning temperature. This means you’ll need a hot-burning wick for an amazing scent throw. Select from natural hemp wicks or cotton wicks. Hemp wick is hot-burning and releases more oil into the air so you can enjoy the healthful benefits of essential oils.
Figure out the size of cotton wick for the type of candle you’re going to make. Use wick stickers to attach one end of the wick to the bottom of the candle mold or glass jar. Wrap the other end of cotton wick around a pencil or wooden stick and hold it in place with clothespins to keep it taut and centered.
You can always add more oil
Since essential oils don’t smell as strongly as synthetic fragrances, you can compensate for the damped fragrance by adding more oil. Start with using two teaspoons of the oil for every 4 ounces of melted wax. This will give you a fragrance load of 6 percent, which is optimal for scented candles.
Pour the soy wax
Once the wax has reached the ideal temperature below 180 ℉, pour the wax into your container. Let your essential oil candle cool for about two days before burning candle.
Secure the scent
Once your essential oil candle has fully matured, cover it with a lid between uses. This practice ensures the scent doesn’t fade. If you feel the fragrance is fading, simply melt the candle wax and add more oil.
For this, place the candle in the freezer until the wax pops out. Then put the assembly of wax and wick in a double boiler and repeat the whole process. Don’t forget to remove the old wick from the wax melt.
How much fragrance oil do you add to wax?
To make a homemade candle with essential oils, you will need to know the exact fragrance load. The fragrance load refers to the maximum amount of fragrance you can add to your candle. The manufacturer’s recommendation is a 5 to 10 percent fragrance load for essential oil candles. With this in mind, the amount of fragrance should be less than or equal to 10 percent for a 16oz candle. If you are using soy wax, you can add up to 12 percent of whichever essential oil you are using.
What temperature do you add essential oil to wax?
The wax melt and pour temperatures are different for all waxes. It is crucial to mix the essential oils in wax at the right temperature. Otherwise, the candle wouldn’t be as fragrant as you might expect. Adding oil to a hot wax can destroy its active compounds, whereas a cooled wax might not evenly disperse the oils throughout the wax.
If you’re using soy wax, heat it between 180 ℉ and 185 ℉, then mix desired essential oil, and allow it to cool to 140 ℉ before pouring. The temperatures for palm wax are slightly higher than soy wax, up to 200 ℉.
To put it briefly, making candles with pure essential oils will not only make your house smell better but also boost overall physical and spiritual well-being.