Most people know that the most important ingredients when it comes to making candles are wax, wick, and color.
It’s easy to forget that the scent is just as important. It’s the main thing that makes your candle fragrant, so it’s important to find something that smells nice.
A lot of people like to use a wide variety of herbs in order to scent their candles. Candle scents should be light and refreshing.
If you overdo it, your candle will smell overpowering, and the scent may burn off too quickly. The best thing to do is experiment a little to find what works best for you.
How to Use Dried Herbs for Candles
When using herbs for candle making, start by thoroughly drying the plant material to prevent mildew. To scent a candle, herb plants can be finely chopped or crushed to help release their fragrance.
Some candle makers prefer to steep the chopped herbs in the hot wax for a period of time to allow the fragrance to be incorporated into the wax.
The wax is then strained before making the candle. An alternate method is to add the chopped herbs to the candle as it is poured.
The powdery herbs add a design element to the candle, especially if the herbal mix contains colorful flower petals. Adding sprigs of leaves and small flower stems around the edge of the candle while it’s being poured is another decorative way for using plants in candles.
This method works best for wide, clear candle jars. Keeping these larger pieces far away from the wick will prevent them from catching fire or sparking.
Why Put Dried Herbs In Candles In The First Place?
Nothing beats a quiet evening unwinding while surrounded by heavenly scented candles. Even if that isn’t exactly your idea of a perfect evening, you’ve got to acknowledge the niceties of aromatic candles and the freshness and ambiance they bring to any space.
Besides, the health concerns associated with chemical-based fragrances in candles have caused enough jitters for many folks to switch to homemade candles scented naturally.
Consequently, DIY candle makers are constantly looking for ways to add a natural scent to their candles, and adding dried herbs to the mix is one of those solutions.
You might also want to put dried herbs in candles to give them more character, texture, and even an interesting design if you’re using glass vessels. This is particularly true if you want to add oomph to your candles without turning to synthetic dyes or artificial embellishments like glitter.
Is it Safe to Put Dried Herbs in Candles?
It goes without saying that dried plant matter and a flame can be a recipe for smoky disaster if you’re not careful.
However, it is still generally safe to put dried herbs in candles if done correctly. As long as the herbs do not come into direct contact with the wick when it is lit, you won’t end up burning down your house.
Dry herbs can get really dramatic once they touch the wick. You can get anything from smoldering to sporadic flames, an eruption of tiny angry sparks, crackling, sputtering, and emitting soot.
To enhance safety and avoid such unpleasant incidents that will sure put a damper on your relaxation and freshness efforts, be sure to:
- Grind or chop your dried herbs into finer pieces before using them to make candles. The larger the pieces, the angrier the flame and the more dangerous the candle.
- Use a large jar with a wide diameter to keep the dried herbs as far as possible from the wick and closer to the walls of the container.
- Do not place dried herbs right on top of a ready-to-use candle. The dried herbs are to be added to the molten wax during the process of making the candle. This way, they gradually sink to the bottom while the candle melts.
How Do You Safely Add Dried Herbs To Candles?
You’ll come across various methods of adding dried herbs to candles, including stirring them into the molten wax before pouring or sprinkling them on top of the wax while pouring.
With these methods, there’s a higher chance of the dried herbs coming into direct contact with the wick as there’s no control of the distribution.
How To Safely Add Dried Herbs to Candles
Here are guidelines on how to safely add dried herbs to your candles:
- Assuming you already know the candle-making process and have poured your hot wax into a wide brim jar, sprinkle the chopped or crushed dried herbs around the molten wax.
- Do this closer to the outer edge of the vessel. Check that there’s a reasonable area of about half an inch diameter around the wick that is free of dried herbs. The herbs will slowly sink into the molten wax to the bottom of the container.
- If you’d like your dried herbs to be suspended within the candle height, pour the wax in layers and sprinkle the dried herbs in the same manner prescribed above.
- Wait in between layers. The first one (bottom layer) should start thickening before sprinkling more herbs on top and following with another layer of molten wax until you fill the jar.
- You can use this layering method to separate different dried herbs, for example, lavender at the bottom, mint at the middle, and rosemary at the top.
- Want to use sprigs, stems, stalk or petals without crushing them to add a design element? Place them inside the empty container, slightly angled such that the walls provide support for them to remain in that same position during pouring. Slowly and carefully pour the wax inside.
What Dried Herbs Can You Put in Candles?
Rosemary, lavender, mint, chamomile, sage, thyme, lemongrass, and licorice are the go-to dried herbs used in candles by many crafters. It’s really about your taste and preference.
Whatever you choose to go with, always pay attention to your dried herb candle as you would any other candle.
Best Herbs for Candle Making
By now, you may be wondering what herbs are best for candles? Aromatic herbs, like those used in aromatherapy, are popular as are herbs that evoke emotion.
Flowers bring a gentle fragrance inside the home and many types of leaves can be used to decorate the outside of the candle. Consider the following candle herb plants:
- Lavender – One of the most popular choices of dried herbs for candles, lavender elicits calmness and reduces anxiety. Use crushed dried lavender to scent candles and dry flower buds for decoration.
- Mint – Use homemade peppermint-scented candles for a holiday table centerpiece or give them as Christmas gifts. Burn spearmint scented candles year-round for that clean, fresh minty fragrance.
- Rosemary – Like lavender, rosemary can be used for both fragrances and as a design element in candles. Rosemary can be grown in a container or in the garden as a perennial shrub. Harvest the leaves before the plant blooms for the richest aroma.
- Chamomile – With its daisy-like flower, chamomile imparts both aroma and decorative value to candle making. Harvest chamomile flowers midday when they are fully open, but after the dew has dried.
- Lemon Verbena – This lemon-scented perennial shrub is so aromatic it releases a fresh citrus scent every time its leaves are touched. Harvest and dry lemon verbena leaves individually on screens. Dried leaves can be stored in zippered bags.
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, white cedar, pine, and vanilla are holiday favorites that work well with a variety of herbs.
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.
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.