The popularity of candles has made it one of the most profitable industries in the United States. Whereas they were once primarily used as a source of heat and light, humans have discovered many other purposes for candles. One of these alternatives involves incorporating essential oils into the candle-making process to treat stress and anxiety. However, while there are a few advantages to using essential oils in candle making, there are also a few disadvantages to this process as well.
Here are a few reasons why you should not use essential oils in making candles:
- Due to their relatively low yield, harvesting essential oils from plants is not a sustainable practice.
- Using fossil fuels in the production of essential oils negatively impacts the environment.
- Waste created during the production of essential oils has a negative and lasting impact on aquatic and marine life.
- Oxidation can occur in some essential oils, which makes them toxic.
Let’s read along to discover some of the reasons why using essential oils in candle-making may be detrimental to our environment, our planet, and the health of the people living on it. We will also take a closer look at what makes up essential oil, and the effects that essential oils can have on an environment or the population of an environment. I will also include a few pointers on how essential oils should be disposed of to reduce the impact that they have on our environment.
What Are Essential Oils?
If we are to gain a better understanding of the effects that essential oils may have on a population or an environment, we must first understand what essential oils are, and how they can be used. Simply put, essential oils are liquids that are extracted from plants and can have volatile chemical compounds. Although they have many uses, the most common use for essential oils is to add fragrance to items such as candles.
Although the use of essential oils in treating stress and anxiety through aromatherapy is at an all-time high, some controversies are attached to their use. We now live in a society where we are much more concerned about the footprint, we leave on the earth than in the past. This mindset has had a pronounced effect on how we use our precious natural resources, as well as the materials from which our daily items are made.
Essential Oils Are Not Sustainable
One of the primary reasons why we have seen an explosion in the popularity of candles and because many manufacturers have incorporated the use of essential oils in their candles. However, as we have become more environmentally conscious, one of the key aspects we have begun to focus on regarding our environment is sustainability. Unfortunately, harvesting essential oils is not considered to be a sustainable practice.
According to Sustainability Nook, you need to extract over one million rose leaves to produce one ounce of rose oil. So, why is there so much emphasis placed on sustainability? As the earth’s population continues to grow, we consume more and more natural resources. Sustainability is essential to the continued growth and development of natural resources, which helps maintain a healthy ecosystem.
Negative Impact On The Environment
Most essential oils are not directly responsible for polluting our environment. However, the extraction process can cause a drain on our valuable natural resources. One example of this can be found in steam distillation, which is one of the most popular methods of extracting essential oils. This method uses steam that is created by boiling large amounts of water. The steam traps essential oils and carries them into the distiller.
Unfortunately, wasting precious natural resources and emitting pollutants into the air during the extraction process is only the beginning. Once the essential oils have been extracted from the plants, they must be transported to their destination. Whether they are being transported by trucks or flown in by airplanes, large amounts of fossil fuels are being used to ensure that these essential oils arrive where they are supposed to be.
Toxic To Aquatic and Marine Life
While we are harvesting and extracting essential oils to manufacture the goods and products that we use daily, we must keep in mind the effect that this practice has on the surrounding environment. This also applies to the disposal of these chemicals as well. Although we may not see the immediate impact that harvesting essential oils has on the planet, it is also important to consider the impact this is having on the many ecosystems that work together to comprise life on Earth. One of these ecosystems that impacts our daily lives is the ocean.
One common factor that all living things share is that we all require water to survive. Therefore, any practice that affects aquatic and marine life will greatly influence the lives of everything it surrounds. The introduction of essential oils to the natural ecosystems through the harvesting, manufacturing, and disposal of essential oils used in aromatherapy candles is toxic to the many forms of marine life found in these ecosystems. If we want to improve the quality of life on Earth, we must consider the impact that we have on all of the ecosystems found in it.
Perhaps the primary reason that most people choose to incorporate the use of essential oils in candles is that they are used for helping people alleviate anxiety and stress through aromatherapy. Unfortunately, using these oils in candle-making can have detrimental effects on people that may offset some of the beneficial reasons for using them. This effect is usually present more often in soy candles, as well as other alternatives to traditional paraffin wax.
We have discussed a few valid reasons why essential oils should not be used in candle making due to their negative effects on the environment. However, essential oils can also be harmful to the people using them as well. Some essential oils have chemicals that combine with atmospheric oxygen, which causes a negative chemical reaction known as oxidation. This reaction can be toxic and is known for causing negative skin reactions in people.
How Do I Clean Or Dispose Of Essential Oils?
Because of the impact that essential oils are capable of having on the environment, we must exercise extreme caution in how we are disposing of them. In the previous section of this article, I mentioned the effect that essential oils can have on delicate ecosystems such as marine life. Cleaning up or disposing of essential oils (or the waste created by extracting or manufacturing essential oils) is just one example of how we can have a direct influence on the impact this has on our planet.
Many essential oils are toxic to the aquatic life found in most marine ecosystems. This is why you should never flush essential oils when you are disposing of them. The proper way to dispose of essential oils once you are finished with them is through hazardous waste collection programs that are now being offered in your city or town. You must also exercise caution when recycling containers where essential oils are stored as well. To determine the proper method of disposal for these items, contact your local city or town government.
6 More Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Essential Oils in Candles
- Essential oils are extremely flammable.
- Essential oils do not have as strong a scent throw as synthetic fragrance oils.
- Essential oils can be expensive, depending on the scent you choose.
- Essential oils must be added at the exact right time during the candle making process.
- Essential oils can sometimes lose their therapeutic uses when heated up incorrectly.
- Essential oils work best in natural waxes.
What are essential oils, and what makes fragrance oils work as well, if not better? Which are less toxic? Why is it important to choose? Read on to find out more about how you can better make your decision when creating your candles.
Essential Oils vs. Fragrance Oils
When you’re making your own candles, you are going to have to consider two separate options for your candle’s fragrance. Your options are either using essential oils or synthetic fragrance oils. Knowing the difference will help you to identify why one may be better than the other in your candles.
Essential oils are created from a natural source and are usually organic plant matter that has been concentrated down into a liquid. They are the strongest scents from that plant when they are concentrated down—making them the “essential” scents of that plant.
To create an essential oil, plant matter is put through the distillation process. By using steam or water, or sometimes by cold pressing, the plant matter, the chemicals that give the plant its scent are extracted and combined with a carrier oil. While they are not meant to be eaten or swallowed, essential oils can be applied to and absorbed by the skin for health reasons. Many believe that smelling certain scents can stimulate your emotions, behaviors, and long-term memory. They can be used in aromatherapy, and to help with migraines, headaches, inflammation, anxiety, stress, and sleep issues. They have a very long shelf life compared to fragrance oils at around 15 years or more.
on the other hand, are manufactured, synthetic scents that are mixed in with some sort of carrier oil, typically something like propylene glycol, vegetable oil, or mineral oil. They usually smell stronger and do not contain plant matter—they are scientifically created in a lab.
Fragrance oils, although not natural, tend to have a stronger scent than essential oils. They have been known to create trace levels of toxic fumes when paired with other synthetic items, such as wicks or paraffin wax. More frequently, they could create allergic reactions. They also do not have as long of a shelf life as essential oils, usually only keeping their scent for about a year.
Disadvantages to Using Essential Oils
Now that you’re aware of the options, you should understand the disadvantages to using essential oils in your candle making. While issues can arise with any ingredient in the process, make sure you understand what could occur if you use essential oils.
Essential oils are extremely flammable
When placed incorrectly in your candle, essential oils can be flammable—while you want it to be able to burn, if you put too much in your candle, it could create a larger flame that can quickly go out of control. While many are made to be burned in candles, it is still a concern, and you should make sure you monitor your candle while burning.
Essential oils do not have as strong a scent throw as synthetic fragrance oils
Because they do not have any additives, essential oil candles tend to have a weaker scent than their fragrance oil counterparts. You still have to follow the recommended amount of fragrance oil in the candles as set out by the wax manufacturer, so you may find that using the same number of essential oils as you would a synthetic fragrance oil leaves your candle without a strong a scent throw. If you put in too much oil into your candle, the oil can leech, meaning it collects on the top of the candle wax—if it does this, It can also create a fire hazard, since it is extremely flammable.
Essential oils can be expensive, depending on the scent you choose
Compared to fragrance oils, essential oils, depending on where you get them from, can be very expensive. Fragrance oils tend to be several dollars a bottle, while essential oils can be $50 or more for several fluid ounces. If you’re looking for something more cost-effective, you should avoid essential oils and instead use fragrance oils.
Essential oils must be added at the exact right time during the candle making process
Each fragrance oil and candle wax is different when it comes to adding them together, but essential oils must be added to the melted wax when the wax is at its coolest. This can be a complicated process to do, especially as a beginner, which means using fragrance oils as you start out is advisable.
Essential oils can sometimes lose their therapeutic uses when heated up incorrectly
Essential oils are best known for their therapeutic properties. When they are added into hot wax, some of those properties can evaporate, causing the essential oils to become less effective. There is also a possibility that when they burn, they can also become toxic.
Essential oils work best in natural waxes
While you can mix essential oils into any sort of wax, they tend to work best in natural waxes. Fragrance oils work best in all types of waxes, including synthetic paraffin wax. If you find yourself using that sort of wax, essential oils may not mix as well into it as a fragrance oil might.
Which Is Better: Essential Oils or Fragrance Oils?
There are some benefits to using essential oils. Mixing them into your candles—especially with other fragrance oils—can give your candles a longer shelf life. Essential oils do last much longer than fragrance oils. There are disadvantages to fragrance oils too—namely, their synthetic properties. If you want to create an all-natural candle, choosing essential oils, although they come with certain disadvantages, may be the way to go.
While it ultimately depends on what you want out of your candle, note the downfalls of each. As you research, also understand that choosing essential oils or fragrance oils can also inform the choice of wicks or wax you use. Certain wicks work better with certain waxes. Essential oils work best with natural waxes, while fragrance oils can be used with all types of wax.
Consider what kind of candles you want to make. If you’re looking to sell to a more ecological friendly crowd, you may have to make concessions and use the all-natural essential oil option. If you’re making them for yourself, consider what you want out of your candle—if you’re looking for something inexpensive with a strong scent throw, choosing a synthetic oil may be your best choice. If you can’t make that choice, consider mixing the two—it’s safe and possible, and you can circumvent the shortcomings of both.
In conclusion, there are many reasons why essential oils should not be used in candle making. Because of their relatively low yield, essential oils are not considered a sustainable source for providing fragrance to candles. Manufacturing and transporting essential oils also harm the environment because of the waste produced while extracting them, as well as the fossil fuels burned while transporting them. Essential oils can also negatively impact many of the fragile ecosystems that work together to make up our planet, especially marine and aquatic life.
Although using essential oils in candles can be harmful to our environment, it is also important to remember that they can also negatively impact our health as well. Oxidation is one example of how the chemical reactions caused by essential oils can directly affect the health of the people it is supposed to benefit. This reaction is toxic and is responsible for several rashes and skin irritants. To reduce the impact that essential oils being used in candles have on the earth and its inhabitants, we must exercise caution in how it is being collected and disposed of.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which essential oils are the most toxic to humans while being burned?
Some essential oils that are used to add fragrance to aromatherapy candles can be toxic to human beings while being burned. Some of these oils are more toxic than others. According to WebMD, the oils that are the most toxic to humans while being burned include camphor, clove, lavender, eucalyptus, thyme, tea tree, and wintergreen oils.
Is there a safe alternative to using fragrance oils for scenting candles?
While there are many benefits to using essential oils to scent candles, there are also valid reasons why they should not be used. 1 safe alternative that candle makers have been using instead of essential oils is fragrance oils. These oils have a longer-lasting scent, and they are not nearly as bad for the environment as essential oils. However, you should exercise caution when purchasing fragrance oils because many of them are infused with essential oils.
Can you mix fragrance oils and essential oils in a candle?
Yes, you can mix both fragrance oils and essential oils within your candle, and it is actually advisable due to the benefits of both. Fragrance oils have a stronger scent, while essential oils have a longer shelf life. Fragrance oils are inexpensive compared to essential oils, but note that if you are creating an all-natural candle, fragrance oils are synthetic.
What is the best type of wax for scented candles?
While it does depend on the type of oil you are using to scent your candles, most will agree that paraffin wax will hold scent the best. A synthetic wax created through the crude oil refinement process; it still holds scent better than its counterparts. If you want to use essential oils and create a natural candle, soy wax tends to be the best. Avoid beeswax due to its cost and its light natural scent.
Can I create my own essential oils for candle making?
Yes, it is possible to make your own essential oils. First, take almond, olive, or jojoba oil to use as a carrier oil and place them in a jar. Place your items inside, whether they are herbs, spices, or flower petals. Dried plants work the best. Submerge them in the oil, then mix. Place water in a pan and set the glass contain inside to allow mixture to infuse. Use low heat and do not boil the water. After about five minutes, cover your jar and place it in a cool, dark place for about a week, mixing it daily. After a week, strain it and let it sit.
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Meet Shawn Chun: Entrepreneur and Candle Business Fan.
I’m a happy individual who happens to be an entrepreneur. I have owned several types of businesses in my life from a coffee shop to an import and export business to an online review business plus a few more and now I create online candle business resources for those interested in starting new ventures. It’s demanding work but I love it. I do it for those passionate about their business and their goals. That’s why when I meet a candle business owner at a craft fair, farmers market, retail location or anywhere else I see myself. I know how hard the struggle is to obtain and retain clients, finding good employees all while trying to stay competitive. That’s why I created Candle Business Boss: I want to help candle business owners like you build a thriving business that brings you endless joy and supports your ideal lifestyle.