Making candles with herbs

Light Up Your Life: Naturally Scented Candles

• Infuse fresh herbs in melted wax. Heat the wax to pouring temperature (180°F for most candle waxes), and add strongly scented herbs such as rosemary, lavender, or lemon verbena. Maintain this temperature for about 45 minutes, then strain the wax, which will give off a mild fragrance. Never leave any wax unattended on a stove or other cooker.

• Soak the wick in a small amount of essential oil before placing it in the mold. This will give the candle a very mild fragrance when lit.

• Add a small amount of essential oil to the wax just before it is poured: a few drops for a small candle, no more than 1/4 teaspoon for one pound of wax. Stir well to distribute the oil throughout the wax so that it will not leave spots of discoloration, then immediately pour it into prepared molds.

Using one or more of these methods will produce a scent that is seldom overpowering, even for people who are sensitive to fragrance. Commercial candle scents tend to be much stronger. If you use one of these, start with about half the amount recommended on the package to ensure that the fragrance of your finished candle isn’t overpowering or distracting.

Fragrance is ephemeral. If you’ve added scent to the wax itself or infused it with fresh herbs, the fragrance on the candle surface that is exposed to air will dissipate, but the scent within the wax will be released when the candle burns. Storing a scented candle in a closed container will prolong its fragrance. An easy way to scent any ­finished candle, handmade, store-bought, or one that has lost its scent over time, is to light it, then add a drop or two of essential oil to the pool of wax that forms close to the wick. The flame will diffuse the fragrance.

Give some thought to matching the scent to an appropriate color so that the effect isn’t jarring. People don’t expect a vanilla scent, for example, from a green candle. When choosing a fragrance, take into account the scent of the wax itself. Paraffin, the most common candle wax, is odorless, but beeswax has a pleasant honey scent. Herbs blend beautifully with beeswax used alone or combined with paraffin; if you choose to scent it further, use oils that complement its natural fragrance and its pale amber color.

The Design

Herbal leaf shapes and flower forms offer an abundance of decorating possibilities. Herbs can go on, in, and around candles in many creative ways, and experimentation is the fun part. If you don’t like what you end up with, melt it down, strain the wax if necessary, and start again.

Embed a dried leaf or sprig inside a candle so that it shows through the wax with interestingly subtle, sometimes eerie effects. Using dried material (a few seconds in the microwave is all it takes) is important to prevent mildew. Place the leaves close to the candle’s surface so that they may be seen but not close enough to the wick that they can catch fire. Use the following method to anchor them in place.

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Pour melted wax into the mold. When the outside has set to a thickness of about 1/8 inch, pour the liquid wax back into the container you’re using for the hot wax, leaving just a shell of hardened wax in the mold. Position the leaves where you want them. With a knife or ice pick, cut chunks from wax of the same color and pile them in the center of the mold against the leaves to hold them in place. Fill the mold with melted wax to the desired depth. Using chunks of wax different in color from that of the shell will cause dark or light spots that will show through to the outside. If you have melted all of your wax to color it, you’ll need to let some of it reharden so that you can make chunks of it.

Emboss a leaf or flower onto the surface of a candle after it has cooled and been removed from the mold. Herbs and flowers for this purpose need to be pressed and dried for a few days in a flower press or substitute, such as a thick phone book. Arrange the pressed leaves on your work surface, then dab them with a bit of white glue or hot wax and position them on the candle, pressing them onto the surface until the glue dries or the wax hardens and they are held firmly in place. Coat the design with a thin layer of wax to hold the herbs in place permanently and to keep them from being scuffed or broken. There are various ways to do this.

The simplest way is to paint hot wax onto the candle surface until the herbs are completely coated. To produce a flatter, smoother surface, you can dip the entire candle by its wick for a few seconds in melted wax up to its upper edge. Don’t fill the wax container to the top because as you dip the candle it will displace its volume in wax and the level will rise; experiment to find out how much wax it takes, and use a double boiler so that any overflow will go into the water.

If you don’t have enough leftover wax to dip the entire candle, try putting a smaller amount of wax into a container of hot water; the wax will float to the surface. Dip the candle into the wax-covered water. The candle will pick up the surface wax as you pull it out slowly. Watch for water bubbles, and smooth them out or redip if necessary.

Adding crushed dried herbs to the wax just before you pour will give the finished candle an interesting mottled look. Use loose dried leaves of an herb such as rosemary, matching the herb to an essential oil added to the wax for scent. The crushed herbs or leaves will tend to drift toward the bottom of the candle, creating a lovely effect, particularly with homemade molds such as milk cartons in which the mold and finished candle have the same orientation.

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Natural wax candles are delightful accessories and tools for creating radiant spaces, especially as fall and winter bring chilly darkness to our days. These warm, flickering lights add natural ambiance and a calm, cozy feeling to any room. And while they serve a lovely mood-setting purpose in their own right, they can also be used to heat essential oils in a diffuser to fill a room with your favorite grounding fragrance, creating the perfect space for relaxing self care rituals.

Homemade candles are easy, fun, and affordable. Not only are they the perfect project for craft night, candles also make the sweetest holiday or birthday gifts for just about anyone. Plus, you can get really personal and creative with the containers, materials, and fragrances! While making candles is mostly just melt and pour, you can also formulate a blend of essential oils to create a special scent.

What Types of Wax Can You Use for Candle Making?

Beeswax candles

Beeswax candles are a favorite among many for the naturally sweet, honey-like smell they release. Beeswax also burns slowly, making it a great value, but you’ll want to take this slow-burn factor into consideration when purchasing wicks and containers.

Beeswax alone will tend to cave in at the top as it solidifies due to the outside wax cooling faster than the wax near the wick. We recommend a mix that’s roughly 75% beeswax and 25% organic coconut oil. Mixing the beeswax with coconut oil helps the candle solidify at a more even temperature and reduces the likelihood of center collapse, although it can still happen. For this reason, it’s good practice to leave space at the top of your jar, as it allows you to cover up any caving in after the initial pour has cooled with a little more melted wax. If using 100% beeswax (sans high-quality vegetable oils) it’s necessary to either buy wicks that are one size larger than otherwise recommended or purchase high-temperature wicks in the appropriate size range.

Vegan Candles

Soy candles are a popular option for those seeking natural wax candles that are free from animal derivatives. However, for those who prefer a firmer and soy-free vegan candle base, carnauba wax is an option. Carnauba wax is the hardest natural wax available. Because this wax is so hard and has such a high melting point, it is not a good idea to make a candle out of 100% carnauba wax.

We experimented with diluting the carnauba wax with coconut oil and found the best solution is a 50/50 combination. This will lower the overall melting temperature, making it easier to get an attractive and even-burning candle out of your hard work. Crafting with carnauba wax does require a bit of patience, as its melting temperature exceeds 180° F. As with pure beeswax candles, we recommend using wicks a size larger than usual or high temperature wicks on all carnauba-based candles (including the 50/50 blend recommended here).

Making Scented Candles with Essential Oils

From refreshing citrus or peppermint to floral geranium, naturally scented candles are a lovely way to incorporate personalized aromatherapy blends into your space. In order to successfully use essential oils to scent your homemade candles, you’ll need to add a higher proportion of essential oil than you would for a typical body care recipe or even natural cleaning recipes. The amount you’ll want to use is similar to what you’d find in soap recipes, since much of the essential oil dissipates when mixed into the hot wax. We recommend 1/2 ounce to 1 ounce of essential oil per 8 ounces of melted candle wax. We used roughly 200 drops of essential oil per 4 ounces of wax and found this to be a good ratio for strong aromas like lavender.

Containers and Wicks

You can use any container you like, but your container size will determine the wick size you’ll need to use. We love these clear glass salve jars for candle making. The 1 oz. size will burn for about four or five hours. For bigger gifts, pantry jars with rubber seals are both lovely and functional, as the attached lids make it easy to remember to seal your candles when not in use to preserve their freshness throughout each one’s long life.

You can find wicks in spools at your locally owned craft supply store. You’ll need to use a sizing chart on the packaging (or consult your store’s customer service for help) to find out which wick to use for your container size, since the wick size is determined by the diameter of the container. The ingredients may also influence your wick selection, as the 100% beeswax candles and vegan carnauba blend candles require specific wick lengths. Buying the wrong size wick could result in an uneven burn that will create a pit down the center of your candle, rather than burning from the top down evenly. Or, with the wrong size wick, your candle may burn out before making it through all of its precious wax.

How to Make Natural Wax Candles with Essential Oils

Supplies

  • Metal pot with water
  • Heat-safe glass measuring cup or metal double boiler insert twice the capacity of the wax you want to melt
  • Candy thermometer (for watching flash points)
  • Wick clips (optional)
  • Wick holders or pens/pencils for centering your wicks

Ingredients

  • Beeswax or carnauba wax
  • Butter/oil/fat of choice
  • Essential oils
  • Wicks
  • Glass containers

Directions

  1. Submerge metal double boiler insert or glass measuring cup in pan with water, bring water to a boil, and heat the wax/fat blend until just melted together.
  2. Insert a candy thermometer in the center of the mixture to monitor temperature. If you are working over an open flame, it’s important to know the flashpoints for materials you are working with in order to avoid dangerous combustion! This is mostly a concern for beeswax, as its flashpoint of 200° F is the lowest of most of the materials with which you’ll be working (and you can exceed it in a double boiler). Coconut oil, on the other hand, has a flashpoint near 350° F, and carnauba wax doesn’t combust until about 570° F.
  3. For beeswax candles, once melted, dip a wick end into the melted wax (only works for beeswax) and place in the center of your container. Press into the bottom of the container (use a utensil for pressure if needed, not your bare fingers). The beeswax will solidify and hold your wick in place. This strategy unfortunately does not work for carnauba wax. You can secure the wick end with a piece of tape, or pour a bottom layer of wax to cover the wick end and allow to cool while you hold the wick in place.
  4. Next, suspend the wick in the middle of the container by wrapping the excess length of wick around a pencil or skewer and balancing that horizontally across the jar opening.
  5. Add essential oils while the melted wax blend is still on the heat source, right before you pour into your candle containers. Do one quick stir after all essential oils have been added, but do not continue to heat.
  6. Pour wax into containers, leaving roughly 1/2 inch of room at the top.
  7. Leave boiler insert or measuring cup in the heated water while your candles solidify.
  8. Once they appear to be solid (this can take 30 to 60 minutes), you may notice that some candles have caved in slightly on the top. You can now top them off with the remaining wax, leaving 1/4 inch of room at the top.
  9. Once completely cooled (overnight is great to be safe), remove wick holders and snip wicks to 1/2 inch.
  10. Light and enjoy!

PRO TIP: For easy clean up, cover a pan with aluminum foil or wax paper and place on the bottom rack of your oven. Put that wax-coated glass jar or metal boiler insert upside down on the top rack. Turn oven on to 180° F and allow to sit for an hour or so. All of the wax will melt down onto your pan, mess free! This is also a good method for prepping your used candle containers for reuse once you’ve burned them through and are ready to make more!

Want More beeswax craft ideas?

Learn How To Make Your Own Beeswax Wraps

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If you’re feeling crafty and want to send someone flowers in a slightly different way then a few DIY dried flower candles are a unique way to surprise. Flowers can be decorative in more than one way and in the case of a home made dried flower candle your special someone can enjoy an aromatic and long lasting gift.

Making candles isn’t often the first thing that comes to people’s minds as a gift idea, with many put off by the idea that it’s difficult to do and by the many options available to buy in shops and online. However, making your own DIY flower candles is much simpler than many people think and a very sweet touch to your gift giving. It is also relatively cheap to do with only a few simple ingredients that can easily be locally bought. As we’ll see in 6 simple steps you too can make beautiful DIY flower candles.

What you will need to make your DIY dried flower candles:

  • Wax – We recommend using soy wax but any organic wax should do
  • Cotton Candle Wick – Measured to fit your container, with a little extra length for the candle setting
  • Dried Flowers – Either bought or you can dry your own
  • Glass Jar or Container – You could also try using old ceramic tea cups for a unique edge
  • A Pencil – We’ll use this to help the wick set
  • A Wooden Skewer
  • Optional: Essential oils

Step 1: Melt the wax

For this first step you should melt the wax on your hob. You can either do this with a jug or bowl in a saucepan of shallow water or with or just in the saucepan itself (use one you don’t mind getting waxy). It’s better to melt the wax slowly with quite a low heat to ensure that it cools quickly so as not to damage the dried petals with the heat of the liquid.

Step 2: Add the dried flowers to your glass container

If you’re using a transparent container then it might be a good idea to clean the container before adding the flowers and wax so no smudges or marks are left when the wax cools inside it. You can also stick some of the petals to the side of the glass if you want more of the flowers to be on display. When you’re just about ready to add the wax, add some of the flowers you want to seal inside. Don’t worry about their distribution of the flowers at this point as more can be added gradually with the wax.

Step 3: Pour the wax

Now turn off the hob and take the liquid melted wax over to the container and start to pour inside. Sprinkle in a few more flowers as you go and use the wooden skewer to ensure that they sink properly in the wax itself.

Step 4: Add the wick and the oils

You should already have your wick set to be placed in the candle. If you want to add in the oils do so after the wax has cooled for a few minutes to ensure that the heat doesn’t make the oils smoke. If you’re adding strong scents like eucalyptus only place a couple of drops in the mixture but for more subtle fragrances more is better (around 20 – 30 drops). After giving the mixture a light stir you can then drop in the wick. Make sure to keep it centred so the candle will burn evenly.

Step 5: Wrap the wick in place

Once the wick is centred and fully measured down to the bottom of the container, use a pencil across the top of the lid opening. You can then wrap the excess wick around the pencil to keep it from sinking into the still liquid wax.

Step 6: Let the wax cool

Now that everything is set in place find a cool dry place for the wax to solidify. This can take up to 24 hours to completely settle so don’t rush the process or the flowers or wick could get knocked out of place.

Once the candles are full set you can then add any additional decorations. Perhaps you may add a label with the name of the recipient or a birthday greeting if it’s for a birthday party. Whatever the celebration, your home made floral candle should be able to impress your loved ones with its light, scent and craftsmanship.

FloraQueen works with expert florists around the world to deliver the freshest quality flowers to more than 100 countries. No matter the celebration or event you can send your wishes right now to wherever they are. Send flowers with same and next day delivery with ease and share smiles today.

Pressed herb candles are a unique way to preserve the beauty of the garden. Rosemary looks great in these candles, but you can also use herbs like thyme or lavender that are readily available in the garden, grocery store, or garden center. This project uses a mix of beeswax and soy wax, Mason jars, pressed rosemary leaves, and essential oils. The scent of rosemary is purported to help aid focus and memory, plus it smells wonderful and cozy mixed with the beeswax and evergreen essential oils. These easy-to-make candles can be used as beautiful handmade gifts or a special treat for just you!

This project was originally created by our contributor, Rachel Beyer, who got the inspiration from a local apothecary in Portland, Oregon. Rachel is an accomplished artist and nature lover, so it’s no surprise how beautiful her lavender candles turned out. You can see a few more photos of these lovelies on her blog, Adventures in Making.

Project Update: If you have come over from Pinterest, you may see a few differences in the photos on this page. In the original photos, the rosemary looked beautiful in the jars but the stems were woody and therefore hard to press against the side of the jar. The rosemary burned when the candles were lit, so for safety’s sake, we remade the project with young rosemary stems that were pressed flat against the jar. The new project turned out great and we are in LOVE with the results. The key is to press whatever herb you choose as flat as possible and use the wax to stick it to the edge of the jar. That way it will stay against the side of the glass jar and away from the flame.

A Note on Safety: Even though we have tested and revised this project, your DIY candles should never be burned unattended, just like any candle. Please always use your common sense with any DIY project, especially when fire is involved.

Rosemary Pressed Herb Candles

Here is how to make these pressed herb candles with rosemary and scented with essential oils. The mix of essential oils can be changed to suit whatever the occasion or season. The rich, earthy notes of evergreens make this a great Christmas gift, but try mint, lime, rosemary, and lavender for other seasons throughout the year.

Materials
(Makes 2 8oz candles)

  • 1/2 lb beeswax
  • 1/2 lb soy wax
  • HTP62 waxed and tabbed candle wicks 6″
  • Glue dots
  • Essential oils (see blending notes in the instructions. This project used: Fir Needle, Bergamot, Himalayan Cedarwood and Juniper Berry)
  • Pressed young rosemary sprigs
  • 2 8oz canning jars

Additional Tools

  • Metal wax pitcher (or tin can)
  • Saucepan (to create a double broiler)
  • Craft paintbrush
  • Pliers
  • Clothespins
  • Popsicle stick
  • Tea towel

Make it!

Harvest young, thin-branched rosemary sprigs or other herbs from your garden and press them between heavy books or a wooden press for a week, until they are very flat and dry. See how to press leaves in a homemade wood flower press here.

Cut the rosemary sprigs to length so they will sit at least 1″ below the rim of the jar.

When making candles, you can use anywhere from one-half ounce (15 ml) to a full ounce (30 ml) of essential oils per pound of wax, depending on how strong the scents are. Some essential oils can overpower a blend, so adjust accordingly. This recipe uses one-half ounce (15 ml) to create an evergreen scented blend because of the potency of the oils. This blend is easiest to weigh in milliliters to create the half ounce used:

  • 6 ml fir needle essential oil
  • 4 ml bergamot essential oil
  • 4 ml Himalayan cedarwood essential oil
  • 1 ml juniper berry essential oil

Once you have the pressed herbs and essential oil blend ready, it’s time to start making candles! Create a double boiler using a saucepan with an inch or two of water and a metal pitcher or tin can. Place the wax into the pitcher and let melt completely.

Related:

Mason Jar Candle Wedding Favors

While the wax is melting, use tongs to dip the rosemary sprigs into the melted wax and then place against the side of the jar. Use a craft paintbrush to brush melted wax over the rosemary to hold it in place.

Cut your wick to size and use pliers to attach a metal tab. Then add a glue dot to the bottom and place into the center of your jar. Use clothespins to secure the wick and keep it centered.

Once your wax is melted, remove from the pan and use a popsicle stick to stir in the essential oils. Then pour the wax into each prepared jar. Let dry.

Wrap the outside of the jars in a dish towel and set aside to set. Cooling slowly and completely will create the best looking candles.

Allow your candle to cure for 48 hours undisturbed. Once cured, trim the wicks with scissors.

Your rosemary pressed herb candles are now ready to burn or give away as gifts.

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about gardening, natural beauty, crafts, DIY projects, and recipes. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such. While we do our best to provide useful information, any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk and not a substitute for medical, legal, or any other professional advice of any kind.

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This summer, I’ve fallen in love with growing fresh herbs in my garden and finding creative ways to harvest and use them. My favorite herb by far has been lavender. I’ve made my own eye pillows and sachets, and even lavender lemonade and cookies. Now that it’s officially fall, I’m still finding ways to keep my lavender-love going. Inspired by this post from the Free People Blog, I decided to make my own Pressed Herb Candles using lavender and chocolate mint from my garden.


Since the pressed herbs are more for decoration rather than scent, I added in my favorite essential oil, Lavandin (a cross between true lavender and spike lavender). I can’t get over how beautiful these candles turned out, and I love filling my home with the sweet scent of lavender even after summer has ended.

Fancy diamond tags in the Bountiful Leaves style match these candles perfectly! I can’t wait to give these beautiful, handmade candles to someone special.

DIY Pressed Herb Candles Author: Rachel Beyer Type: Crafts Ingredients

  • Glass jars
  • 1 block of beeswax (I used 1½ blocks to make two candles)
  • Wick
  • Pressed flowers or herbs (100% dry)
  • Clean empty tin can and a saucepan
  • 1 old paintbrush (you can throw away afterwards)
  • An old knife
  • Cutting board

Instructions

  1. TIP: Make sure you use the correct size wick for your jar! If you don’t your candle won’t burn properly (I learned this the hard way). Be sure to ask someone when you are buying the wick to advise you on the correct size.

Notes For full instructions, visit the Free People Blog. 3.2.2704

Used In This Project:

  • Fancy Diamond Hang Tags • I chose the “Bountiful Leaves” style in sage.

More Gift Ideas:

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Rachel (163 Posts)

Rachel Beyer is an artist, designer and creative maker based in Portland, OR. She loves crafting, party planning and illustration. Rachel runs her own creative blog, Adventures In Making and also has a line of greeting cards, art prints and handmade goodies called Camp Smartypants.

As the winter months draw near, we find ourselves spending more time indoors than outdoors. This lack of time outdoors can create a feeling of disconnect, especially for those of us who love to cook and create with the seasons.

Marketing companies have obviously recognized this need. When you turn down the aisles of any big box store, you will likely find a plethora of seasonally enhanced products extending way past junk food and into paper goods, bath and body products, and a suite of fragrances for the home. Plug-ins, room sprays, gels, and candles are offered in every seasonal scent imaginable.

But, did you know many of those store-bought fragrances contain carcinogenic chemicals and phthalates (Farley, 2016)? Phthalates are hormone-disrupting chemicals that pose a potential health risk to babies, young children, men, and women (Powers, 2007). They can aggravate asthma, lower sperm count, and increase incidences of breast cancer (Stuart, 2016). However, the damage from phthalates is caused by daily repeated exposure, as they don’t stay in the body for long periods of time like other chemicals (Stuart, 2016). Therefore, we can make great strides for our health when we leave the chemically-made seasonal fragrances at the store and instead, make our own.

Creating hand poured herbal candles with a few key ingredients can bring the outdoors in and allow us to skip the chemicals. Candles are uniquely relaxing, and with the addition of herbs and essential oils, become an aromatherapeutic experience.

Basics of Creating Chemical-Free Hand Poured Herbal Candles

Wood Wicks or Cotton Wicks

Have you ever noticed a small wire in the center of cotton candle wick after lighting it? Well, that wire is the lead core of the wick, and when burned it emits lead into the air. With the windows closed in the winter, burning a lead-cored cotton wick emits lead particulates into the air, potentially diminishing air quality.

Did you know is it illegal to manufacture candles in the United States with lead-cored wicks? While that is excellent news, candles made overseas and sold in the U.S. can still contain lead.

With that in mind, wood wicks make a great alternative to cotton wicks. They are non-toxic, eco-friendly, and readily produced from organic, renewable resources. Additionally, wood wicks add to the ambiance of a beautiful flickering flame with a soft crackling sound. It is reminiscent of a cozy night spent by the fireside. What’s not to love?

Soy Wax, Beeswax, or Paraffin Wax

While paraffin wax is the most commonly used wax in candles, it is a byproduct of the petroleum industry. Upon burning, paraffin wax releases toxic carcinogens including acrolein, acetaldehyde, and formaldehyde (Knight & Levin, 2001). Natural waxes like soy wax, beeswax, and coconut wax are excellent materials for candles. And, you can make a half dozen soy wax candles at home in just an hour’s time all while leaving the carcinogens out! They are non-toxic, biodegradable, renewable, and cleans up with warm water.

How To Scent Candles with Essential Oils and Herbs

Did you know you can create your favorite scents just like the candles in the store, without chemical fragrance oils? All it takes is few essential oils and handful of herbs. Did you grow an herbs in your garden during the warmer months? If so, then you likely have dried herbs to savor in the winter months ahead. Why not use them to make herbal candles?

When we create candles with essential oils and herbs we can experience aromatherapy. I’ve found aromatherapy to be very helpful and even uplifting when I’m feeling disconnected. You can substitute the essential oils drop for drop with your favorites in the recipe below or pair them up with your dried herbs.

I love creating signature scents using essential oils to match the season. Find my favorite seasonal aromatherapy recipes in my book, Aromatherapy: A Practical Guide for Home and Family.

How To Create Hand Poured Candles At Home

  • Source:

Ingredients

2 2-ounce metal candle tins
4 ounces soy wax flakes
2 small wood wicks and clips
2 glue dots
12 drops German chamomile essential oil (Matricaria chamomilla)
12 drops neroli essential oil (Citrus aurantium)
1 teaspoon dried chamomile flowers

Directions

  1. Using glue dots, adhere wood wick clips to the center base of each candle tin. Insert wood wicks, cut the wicks right at the top of each tin, and set aside.
  2. Fill a large saucepan with about 2 inches of water and place it on the stove to heat. Place soy wax flakes in a metal candle pouring pitcher and set inside the large saucepan. Whisk often and heat until melted using the double broiler method. Remove from heat immediately to avoid wax becoming too hot. Let the wax cool to 120°F to 125°F before adding essential oils.
  3. Once the wax has cooled, add essential oils and whisk or swirl to combine. Carefully pour scented soy wax into prepared candle tins. Sprinkle dried herbs on the top of each candle. Let cool 30 minutes to 1 hour or until wax is hard and white.
  4. Always burn soy candles long enough for the wax to melt across the container before blowing out the flame to avoid formation of a tunnel in the wax, which will shorten the life of the candle.

May you be inspired, whether you are looking for new ways to use herbs preserved from your garden or simply to enjoy the ambiance of candlelight without chemicals. Creating hand poured herbal candles is a delight in itself!

Stuart, A. (2016). Go lo tox. Available from https://www.lowtoxlife.com/

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I love finding new and practical ways to use the herbs from my garden – especially ways that I can use for gifts or enhancing my home. Candles are one of those do-it-yourself crafts that fit the bill. Over the years, I’ve figured exactly which are the best herbs for making scented candles to fill my home all-natural scents.

Many of us think of self-sufficiency as only being about food. I like to extend that concept by making things that help around the home. Candles are practical as they can be used for light in an electric outage, to contribute to your health and wellness, or just to make a room smell nice and homey.

While you can always make a candle without herbs, I think adding some lavender or rosemary to the wax is a special treat. The heat releases the scent from the herb’s oils, which not only smells nice, but can have health benefits as well. It’s also a smart way to use up extra herbs that you may have at the end of the growing season.

Candles make a wonderful homemade gift for friends and family. In addition, candles make a great value-added product that you can sell at farmer’s markets.

This article will show you the best herbs for scented candles, along with some tips for making jar or orange peel candles to get you started.

The Importance Of Scent

Scents are an important part of any candle. They make the room smell pleasant and can cover up annoying household smells. Think wet dogs on the farm, for instance.

Scents can also be used as part of aromatherapy. The smell of lavender can help you relax after a stressful day. Other scents are as good as coffee in the morning and can make you feel energized and ready to start your day.

The Best Herbs for Scented Candles

As every gardener knows, herbs all have different scents and medicinal qualities, so experiment with single herbs or blends to find out which ones you like best in your candles.

1. Rosemary

Rosemary is from the Mediterranean area of Europe and likes full sun and sandy soil. It doesn’t handle the cold too well, but thrives in a greenhouse or as a potted plant.

Rosemary has a fresh, pungent smell that wakes up a room. For a stronger scent, crush the rosemary leaves before you add them.

You can also put in a couple of whole dried sprigs in the wax to add visual interest. To do this, harvest sprigs of rosemary that are at least six inches long. Hang dry for two weeks. You can also dry in a dehydrator. Glue the sprigs to the inside of the jar under the wax line. Then, pour in your wax.

2. Thyme

Thyme is a fuss-free herb that grows in zones 4 -9. It tolerates partial shade and its low growing habit makes it ideal for rock gardens.

With a strong, herbaceous smell, thyme is known as a cleansing herb. It brings a fresh woodsy fragrance to your room. Make sure your thyme has plenty of air circulation while it is drying as it can mold easily.

3. Lavender

Lavender enjoys a sunny location in zones 5-9. It grows best in well-drained sandy soil. If, like me, you have thick clay soil, try adding some sand, or try growing lavender in raised beds or pots.

Soothing and relaxing, lavender has a reputation as a calming herb. There’s evidence that it can relieve anxiety, insomnia, headaches, and pain. Lighting a lavender candle after you come in from a hard day’s work is heavenly.

Lavender leaves are a great addition to a scented candle – but don’t forget the flowers. You can dry the blossoms before they open and then glue them to the inside of the jar before you pour the melted wax.

Harvest lavender in the early morning and hang upside down to dry for several weeks. You don’t want to use fresh leaves in your candles or they may mold.

4. Chamomile

Soothing chamomile is a staple herb for not only scented candles, but for tea, and medicinal uses as well. It grows in zones 3-9 in full sun to part shade.

It’s ideal in soothing candles where you want a more subtle scent. Blend the flowers with lavender, apple, or sage.

5. Lilac

Technically lilac isn’t an herb, but it’s so wonderful in scented candles that I’m making an exception to include it here. Lilac grows in zones 3-7 in full sun, and has the most pungent, sweet scent that always reminds me of spring.

You can always find artificially-scented lilac candles at the store, but candles made with the real thing are on a whole other level. Mix it with orange or rosemary to cut down on the sweetness.

6. Cornflower

Cornflowers have a peppery, earthy scent that I find lends itself perfectly to candles. You can grow them as an annual in just about any zone as long as they have plenty of sunshine.

While cornflower is a lovely herb for scented candles, I think it’s a particularly nice addition because it looks so pretty in or on the outside of a candle.

7. Licorice

Licorice is a lesser-known herb for scented candles, but it deserves more attention. It grows in zones 6-11 in full sun or part shade.

The root adds a touch of sweetness without being too sugary. I like to mix it with cardamom and anise for a candle that is good enough to eat.

8. Anise

Anise grows in zones 4-9 in full sun, and the lacy leaves look pretty in the garden. When it comes to harvest time, the dried seeds lend a licorice-like scent to a candle. I like to grind up the seeds and blend them into the wax.

9. Sage

Sage is a sun-lover that grows in zones 5-9. It’s one of those drought-tolerant plants that I never have to baby throughout the year. When it comes to crafts, I think sage is one of the best herbs for scented candles. That’s because you can use the whole, dried leaves as decor inside the wax, and the crushed leaves make a delicious scent on their own.

I also find that sage compliments so many different kinds of other herbs and other plants. For instance, it works well with sea salt, citrus, teak, eucalyptus, lavender, and cedar, to name a few.

10. Lemongrass

If you live in a warmer area, lemongrass is an easy-to-grow plant with a subtle lemony scent. You can mix it with coconut for a candle that brings to mind a tropical vacation.

Use Your Imagination

There are many herbs that delight our senses that may not be the first thing you think of when making scented candles. Lemon basil, pineapple sage, and apple mint come to mind. You can even experiment with flowers and plant leaves. Roses are popular, but what about tomatoes or witch hazel leaves?

You can make your herbal candles even more flavorful by adding other plants, too. You can bring a hint of the tropics by using a peel from fruits like orange, lemon or lime. Or use eucalyptus for a spicier scent.

Spices like cinnamon and cardamom are classics, while cedar, pine, and vanilla are holiday favorites that work well with a variety of herbs.

Best Wax

There are a lot of different waxes out there for candle making. You want to choose a wax that is natural – like soy wax and beeswax – that won’t emit chemicals when you burn it. You can purchase organic options or make your own beeswax if you have hives.

Paraffin wax is cheap – but dirty. Paraffin is a by-product of the oil industry. Studies have shown that it emits harmful substances such as toluene and benzene. These two chemicals have been linked to respiratory illnesses.

Best Wicks

When I first started making candles I thought any piece of yarn or string would do as my candlewick. Not so. The wick has an important job and you want it to burn clean without making smoke.

There are many types of wicks. Some wicks are a single strand and some are braided. Most wicks are round, but square wicks are popular with people who use beeswax. It’s important to size your wick for the jar you plan to use. There are a variety of online guides to help you match the wick to the jar.

DIY Mason Jar Candle

This is one of the simplest candles you can make and my preferred method. It’s a good way to incorporate the best herbs for scented candles because it lends a homey, country vibe, and when you add a ribbon or bow around the jar, it makes a delightful old fashioned gift. It also makes it easy to add in the herbs and spices.

Mason jars ideal for candlemaking because they’re heat resistant and have a wide mouth. Both the half-pint and pint jelly sizes work.

Tools and Ingredients

  • Mason jars
  • Soy candle-wax flakes or beeswax flakes
  • Candle wicks
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun or glue tabs
  • Metal pouring pot and saucepan or double boiler – wax can be tricky to clean so use an old pot or have a dedicated candle making pan
  • Herbs, spices and or essential oils

Steps for Making Jar Candles

  1. Trim your wick so that it is a few inches taller than your jar.
  2. Using a glue gun or tabs, fix the tapered end of the wick to the center bottom of the jar. Another trick is to tie the wick to a craft stick then place the craft stick over the jar so the wick hangs down in the center of the jar.
  3. Add about two tablespoons of your chosen dried herb to the bottom of the jar.
  4. Weigh your wax according to your recipe. You can also fill your jar with the flakes and use that as a guideline. Place the wax in the pouring container or top of the double boiler – not with the water. It takes approximately one pound of wax for a pint-sized mason jar.
  5. Place water in saucepan or bottom of a double broiler. Bring the water to a simmer. Place your pouring container with the wax in the pot of warm water. Allow the wax to melt.
  6. Don’t leave melting wax unattended! It can easily burn. Stir the wax frequently so that it melts evenly. You can use a candy thermometer to make sure the wax gets to about 170°F.
  7. Let the wax cool for about twenty minutes. It should be about 140 before you pour it into the jar. At this stage, you can add any essential oils into the wax and stir well. Add about 1/4 teaspoon per pound of wax and stir it in well.
  8. Pour the wax slowly and carefully, making sure the wick stays in place.
  9. Allow the candle to settle for 24 hours before moving or using it. Lastly, trim the wick to about an inch from the wax.
  10. If you plan to keep your candle for later use or gift-giving, cover it up to keep the scent from evaporating. This is easy if you have used a mason jar. Just put on the metal lid.

Make an Orange Bowl Candle

You can repurpose an orange peel into a candle for a fun project. Not only does this method create a uniquely-shaped candle, but it adds a hint of orange to your herbal wax filler. To make:

  1. Cut the top third off the orange.
  2. Use a knife to scrape out the orange pulp and the skin. Try not to puncture a hole in the rind.
  3. Place your fruit rinds on a baking dish. You can add some dried peeling from your orange top to the orange candle.
  4. Measure your wick following the tips above.
  5. Follow the steps 5 -7 under making jar candles to melt your wax.
  6. After the wax has melted, add your dried herbs.
  7. Pour the wax slowly into the rind.
  8. Let everything cool.
  9. These candles are perishable so burn them within a few days.

Take Away

Candles are an easy and fun DIY project, and using herbs from your garden only makes them more special. Whether you use them as gifts or to spice up your home, growing the best herbs for scented candles will set you on the road to making a special treat.

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According to the Environmental Protection Agency, along with researchers at the University of Michigan and South Carolina State, certain types of candles have been found to discharge the dangerous chemicals benzene and ketones, both known cancer-causing agents.

While there have been no definitive studies determining the long term effect of candle exposure, Arizona allergist Dr. Stuart Agren says the chemicals emitted by certain candles, especially heavily-scented ones, are similar to the fumes released by automobile exhausts.*

Of course, the National Candle Association (yes, there is such a thing) disputes these claims, but I’ve learned enough from my research about processed food to stay away from synthetic or artificial anything. I’ve also learned that just because something is “approved” for use doesn’t mean it can’t be bad for you—just look at what happened with this approved synthetic product. Synthetic by definition is “made by chemical synthesis, especially to imitate a natural product.” In other words, it’s fake, fake, fake! And we all know we like the real thing around here. 🙂

Synthetic and artificial ingredients are the #1 additive I try to avoid in my food and, naturally (pun intended, LOL), this extends to other products in my life. So, rather than emit questionable fumes into my home while burning candles, we thought we’d make (and share) our own DIY natural candles with beeswax and essential oils!

Thankfully, not wanting artificial fragrances in our candles doesn’t mean we have to go the unscented route. Essential oils have been around for centuries and we thought the fun holiday scents from our sponsor Plant Therapy would be perfect for this project.

This Cozy for Christmas Holiday Blend Set would be perfect for making some holiday-themed candles!

Essential oils are concentrated, volatile, aromatic liquids obtained from the fruits, seeds, flowers, bark, stems, roots, leaves or other parts of plants. Plant Therapy offers only 100% pure essential oils and is one of the few companies who offer USDA Certified Organic options. All of their oils go through multiple rounds of testing and are always free from additives, adulterants, and dilutions to uphold the highest quality. While you can certainly find many essential oil options out there, know that they are not all made the same. Finding a quality product is essential, which is why Plant Therapy has been a longtime partner of ours!

As a bonus, new customers can take 10% off of their first order when you use our code 100DAYS10. A great time to try Plant Therapy!

Supplies Needed for Homemade Natural Candles

Ingredients

  • Beeswax pellets (or block)
  • Essential oils (optional, but recommended—I used Christmas Tree, Candy Cane, and Spiced Cider)

Tools

  • 4-ounce glass jars or tins (or other similar containers)
  • Wicks + scissors (we used organic hemp, but cotton is another good choice)
  • Pencils or clothespins for holding the wicks in place
  • Wooden skewer (for stirring)
  • Dedicated candle-making pitcher (basically a metal pitcher you’ll only use for melting wax)
  • Pot to use as a double boiler (filled with a couple inches of water)
  • Electric heat source (in other words, not your gas stove—I bought a very inexpensive electric burner)

Optional

  • Gift tags/string + pen
  • Organic items to embed (such as plant clippings from your Christmas tree, herbs like lavender and rosemary, pieces from candy canes or other hard candies, coffee beans, seashells, etc. – optional)

I highly recommend you read this full list of SAFETY TIPS before getting started. Melting wax for candles is really simple to do, but it’s never a bad idea to take extra precautions. Also, make sure you understand why using your gas stove (or expensive pots) isn’t such a great idea for this project!

We hope you enjoy making and gifting these as much as we have this holiday season. Have fun with it! 🙂

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