Aromatherapy Candles For Relaxation
The UK is a stressed nation, according to a study, 74% of us are so stressed we’ve been unable to cope. Money worries, self-pressure and lack of sleep are the major causes of stress among people in 22 countries. Prolonged stress causes anxiety and depression, which in turn leads to insomnia and other stress-related physiological ailments including headaches, low energy, aches, frequent colds and infections.
Money worries, self-pressure and lack of sleep are the major causes of stress.
The UK is also a nation of candle lovers and according to a report released by Vend this year, the sales of scented candles in the UK have increased by 71% between 2016-2018 and in 2019, 33% more candles were sold compared to the previous year. So we know you love candles, after all, what’s not to love? They provide some much-needed relaxation after a long day at work; some even promote sleep and can help ease anxiety and depression. But the best candles are aromatherapy candles because they're 100% natural and work holistically to heal our mind, body and spirit.
The best candles are aromatherapy candles because they're 100% natural and work holistically to heal our mind, body and spirit.
So which calming candles work best to help you relax and what should you look for in these mood-enhancing beauties if you are also fighting insomnia, anxiety, irritability or even depression?
How Do Aromatherapy Candles Help With Relaxation?Healthline defines aromatherapy as:
“A holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. Sometimes it’s called essential oil therapy. Aromatherapy uses aromatic essential oils medicinally to improve the health of the body, mind, and spirit. It enhances both physical and emotional health.”
Aromatherapy, therefore, focuses on the whole person, physical, mental and emotional and while our mind and emotions play a vital part in our physical well-being the same is true for our physical health which can affect our mind and emotions.
Aromatherapy candles play a major part in aromatherapy and are used in meditation, religious ceremonies and all other applications where a sense of serenity, relaxation and a sense of enlightenment is sought. Aromatherapy candles according to AromaWeb are made with 100% natural ingredients and scented with volatile aromatherapy oils including essential oils, absolutes or CO2s.
They contain a high proportion of essential oils
However, for aromatherapy candles to work (they don't sacrifice scent for eco-credentials), they need a significant amount of essential oils. The most fragrant candles contain around 10% of essential oils. That’s why the market is flooded with candles scented with cheap synthetic fragrance oils that have no real therapeutic benefits or all-natural candles that hardly give off scent.
So when shopping for aromatherapy candles, you should carefully inspect the labels to check that the candle contains:
- 100% natural ingredients ("natural" is not enough, it needs to read "100% natural")
- No fragrance oils or synthetic ingredients
- No paraffin wax (some brand use the label “mineral wax” as it sounds organic but it is, in fact, paraffin wax).
- Natural waxes (i.e.vegetable such as soy wax, beeswax or floral wax)
Also, the name of each essential oil should be followed by its Latin name. A lot of commercial brands will trick you into thinking that their candles contain essential oils by including their common name on the packaging so if in doubt ask the manufacturer.
They create an oasis of calm
I love the natural aroma of essential oils, there’s no doubt that their scents are much more “beautiful” than artificial ones. The hypnotic aroma of an aromatherapy candle combined with the warm glow of its candlelight can transform your space into a sanctuary of calm and promote a state of mind that will enable you to unwind, meditate or calm your nerves in cases of stress, anxiety or depression.
They calm the activity in your brain
One of the benefits of aromatherapy candles is that they affect our brain through olfaction. Olfaction is our sense of smell and the olfactory bulbs extend from the limbic system which is home to our memories and emotions. Aromatherapy is sometimes referred to as olfactory aromatherapy because, when inhaled, certain essential oils have mood-enhancing properties that help promote a peaceful state of mind enabling you to relax.
They work on the nervous system
Calming aromatherapy candles usually contain aromatherapy oils that have a sedative effect on the nervous system. Relaxation can be sought to ease the symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression or simply to help you unwind or prepare you for a good night’s sleep after a long and hectic day.
The complex chemicals in essential oils can also trigger physiological responses that will promote a sense of calm. According to a study on the “Effect of Inhalation of Lavender Essential Oil on Vital Signs in Open Heart Surgery ICU”, Lavender essential oil has the ability to reduce the heart rate. The study found that when the oil was inhaled for 10 minutes there was a reduction in sympathetic nerve activity, the part of the nervous system that is used to accelerate the heart rate.
A small study carried out on women undergoing a stressful medical examination found that Clary Sage significantly reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and, therefore, could be useful in inducing relaxation.
Essential Oils To Look For In A Calming Candle
Whether a candle is scented with one single essential oil or with essential oils in a blend, synergy occurs, according to Aromatic Studies, either within the single oil (Lavender on its own is very relaxing and promotes sleep). or to create a blend that is more effective than using one single essential oil. For example, a blend of Lavender, Geranium and Ylang Ylang can reduce feelings of anger caused by depression and at the same time promote sleep. The 3 oils also complement each other aromatically thus creating a beautiful scent that further enhances your mood.
I have gathered some of my favourite essential oils that promote relaxation and have complementary healing properties:
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
One of the most popular oils, Lavender is renowned for its sedative properties and its ability to relax, ease stress and promote sleep. It has a floral, fresh, sweet and herbaceous scent and I use it frequently in my candles and essential oil blends.
Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)
Chamomile is renowned for fighting insomnia and helps bring a sense of calm especially in cases of anger and irritability. It has a sweet, fruity, herbaceous and slightly milky aroma.
Geranium (Pelargonium roseum)
Geranium can reduce restlessness by calming the nerves and balancing emotions so it works well as an anti-depressant. It has a fresh, floral and slightly fruity scent and I always use Rose Geranium which has a rosier aroma.
Ylang Ylang Extra (Cananga odorata)
Ylang Ylang Extra is relaxing while freeing the mind from negative emotions and feelings of anxiety so it works well as an anti-depressant and in cases of anger and irritability. Its intoxicating exotic scent is, floral, sweet and slightly fruity.
Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides)
Vetiver is both soothing and calming and works well if you need to unwind or de-stress after a hectic day. It has an earthy, woody, spicy and herbaceous aroma.
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)
Patchouli is very grounding and it works well if you’re feeling exhausted, anxious or depressed and need to relax and be in the present moment. It has a deep, earthy and woody aroma and can be quite dominant when blended with other oils (even in small quantities).
Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium)
Petitgrain is one of my favourite essential oils because its scent is quite distinctive. It is calming and can help to ease anxiety in cases of high stress. I love blending it with floral, wood and citrus oils to create a unique and stunning combination. Its aroma is sweet, woody, citrusy, with floral notes.
Petits Rituels Candles For Relaxation
With its high concentration of organic French Lavender, the Provence candle will calm your nerves and prepare you for a good night’s sleep. The organic Rose Geranium and Ylang Ylang Extra will help remove any negative emotions accumulated throughout the day.
Sensual Healing Candle
With its heady and intoxicating blend of Ylang Ylang Extra, organic French Lavender and a hint of Jasmine and Turkish Rose the Sensual Healing candle will soothe your nerves and help relieve anxiety and irritability.
Fleur Boisée Candle
Escape from the high stress of modern life with the Fleur Boisée candle. The distinctive and modern blend of Petitgrain, organic Rose Geranium and organic French Lavender creates the perfect “Ménage à Trois” in this woody and zesty combination with floral undertones.
Now Over To You!
What candle scents do you love? What do you look for in a scented candle to help you unwind, sleep or fight stress? Is there anything that I've missed? I’d love to hear from you. Leave your comments below!
Photo credits: Hans Vivek
- Julia Lawless, The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (Updated Edition) (London: Harper Thorsons, 2014)
- Valerie Ann Worwood. The Fragrant Mind (London: Transworld Publishers, 1997).
Nathalie Allard is an Artisan Perfumer and the founder of Petits Rituels. She’s known for creating beautiful room-transforming 100% natural fragrances with real therapeutic benefits.