- Alternative & Natural Medicine
The Popularity of Scented Candles
Early Scented Candles
More than likely quite a few since the National Candle Association states that 7 out of 10 homes contain candles. In addition, manufactures offer the United States consumer a choice of over 10,000 candle scents in the more than two billion overall yearly candle sales. Once a household staple for providing light, candles have evolved into key tools for stress reduction and home decor.
Where once candles functioned only as a source of lighting, they now provide uses beyond their original intent. Over the years the content of candles evolved from greasy foul smelling animal fat to cleaner better smelling beeswax. Beeswax candles however cost too much for the average person and were instead used mainly in church services. To combat the odor of candles made from fat Colonial women in America came up with what might be considered one of the first scented candles by boiling bayberries in the wax. Moving forward the process was abandoned due to the difficulty of separating the actual berries from the wax. The candle making process as far as scent did not evolve until the mid-1980s. At this time people wanted candles as mood soothers and to scent the home while they burned.
Scented Candles and Aromatherapy
Most consumers buy candles by using scent as the most important reason for choosing a particular candle according the National Candle Society. They further state that 75 to 80 percent of all candles sold are scented with fragrance. Fragrance companies work closely with candle companies to create about 200 different scents made of a combination of man-made and natural properties. When the candle burns, the fragrance evaporates from the melting wax.
A scented candle in and of itself is not a true aromatherapy candle. Aromatherapy offers an alternative way to help alter a person's mood and health through the use of essential oils taken from plants. The body absorbs these oils through touch and smell. Therefore, only scented candles that contain these oils are aromatherapy candles. For example, a scented candle that was created with synthetic rose fragrance is not an aromatherapy candle at all, but a candle that includes oil from an actual rose plant is. But even these usually do not have enough of the essential oil in them to be used in real aromatherapy treatment. Instead most candles with or without the oils lend ambiance to relaxed surroundings but do not treat real health conditions like a massage with concentrated essential oils can. There is not enough concentrated oil in the candle to be consumed when breathing the fragrance in.
Reputable candle makers test their candles, making sure the candle burns as required in a clean safe manner. Those manufacturers that make scented candles in large scale production include labs that verify each ingredient used such as essential oils are safe for consumers. People making candles in their homes do not necessarily test them but the ingredients they buy for making candles have been approved for safe use. The Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM) also researches, tests and ensures the safety of all fragrance materials globally, then reports their findings to manufactures.