Creating Botanical Candles

How to Create Herb & Floral Candles

Written by
Cindy Novack
Published on
April 19, 2022 at 4:03:34 PM PDT April 19, 2022 at 4:03:34 PM PDTth, April 19, 2022 at 4:03:34 PM PDT

Candles made with botanicals are not only beautiful, but a great way to savor and share the bounty of your garden after peak bloom. As the love for nature inspired and natural products increases, there are more botanical candles entering the market every day. I personally love anything botanical, especially plants with aromatic properties. 

 

The subject of using herbs, flowers, spices, etc. in candles is a bit controversial in the candle industry because of the flammability issues that dried herbs present. The problem is when the candle burns, the free-floating botanicals come into contact with the wick, ignite, and then create excess flames and smoke. As a rule of thumb, we try to keep flammable objects away from the wick at all times, so botanical candles break all of the industry rules and safety guidelines. If you don’t feel comfortable making candles with botanicals, then wax melts are always a great option since there is no wick or flame.


After conducting extensive experimentation and test burning, there are safe and unsafe ways to make anything so here are my best tips and tricks for making safe botanical candles. Plant material used in candles must be dried, otherwise the water content in the plant will create mold and an unattractive rot will form inside your candle. Ideally, your herbs should blend into the flame as the candle burns without even noticing a difference besides maybe a small sizzle with a bit white smoke. Choose botanicals that have a smaller particle size or can be crushed into smaller sizes such flower petals, needles and leaves. Ground and powdered herbs have a very small particle size and can be used sparingly sprinkled lightly on the top of the candle. Using powdered herbs to heavily may actually clog the fibers in the wick and not allow your candle to burn properly. Thick botanicals such as cones, twigs, wood chips and bark are not good choices because they will ignite into their own separate flame if they come into contact with the wick. Bulky items are best used as fire starters and not in candles. It is very important to test the flammability of each botanical before using them in your candle. To test, place your botanical on a fire proof plate and try to light it on fire with a direct flame of a lighter. Materials that don’t catch on fire or slightly sizzle and then burn out quickly are safe to use. If a material catches fire and can sustain its own flame more than 10 seconds, I would not recommend using them.

 

Candles have been used for centuries in ceremonies and rituals from weddings to Native American purification traditions. Herb infused candles have a long history as well for prayers, spells and smudging for purification, luck, health, wealth etc. Plants have certain meanings in different cultures so making candles with certain blended herbs creates a prayer or wish for that meaning to come true. Here is a small list of common botanicals and their popular meanings from multiple cultures. Most of the meanings listed below are from the book “A Little Book of Candle Magic” by D.J. Conway. Feel free to experiment and research on your own too. 

 

Basil - banishes negativity

Bay Laurel - protection, healing, mood booster, calming, success

Blue Spruce - serenity, grace and nobility

Calendula/Marigold - abundance

Catnip - courage, love and happiness

Cedar (leaves not wood) - grounding, renewal, protection

Chamomile - to get a marriage proposal, luck in gambling

Cinnamon - motivating, energetic

Clove - banishes evil, to gain desires

Dandelion - purification, spirit calling

Eucalyptus - protection, boosts health, energizing

Ginger - love, money, success, power

Jasmine - love, money, strengthens psychic abilities

Juniper - leaves for protection, berries to attract love

Lavender - love, money, relaxation and happiness

Lemongrass - purifying, cleansing, energizing

Lemon Verbena - drives away evil, wards off creepers

Lily of the Valley - attracts peace and knowledge

Nutmeg - luck, love, prosperity and fertility

Peppermint - Purification, love, refreshing

Pine - purification, cleansing, protection, prosperity, good health

Rose - love and happiness in the home

Rosemary - removes negative energy, soothing, encouraging, keeps a lover faithful

Rue - repels negativity, attracts the right love for you

Sage - purification, protection, wisdom

St. John’s Wort - happiness, healing, courage, love and protection

Sweetgrass - attracts good spirits and positive energy, negative energy removal

Thyme - cleanses your aura, cures nightmares

Yarrow - love, has the power to keep couples happy


There are a few basic styles of botanical candles that are popular. The most common is a container candle made from a natural wax such as soy or coconut, with herbs sprinkled on the top. The herbs create a bit of sizzle and smoke when they come into contact with the flame and this is sometimes referred to as a smudge candle.

 

Another type is a freestanding or pillar style with the botanicals carefully placed around the outside of the candle. The inside is either hollow making it a hurricane candle or a smaller wick is used so that the botanicals stay trapped in the outside wall of the candle while the wick burns down into the middle. Both of these styles of candles are designed so that the botanicals never come into contact with the wick at any time while the candle is burning. This method is great for larger herbs.

 

The last type of popular botanical candle is a small freestanding candle such as a votive that has a coating of herbs on the outside. The candle is made, then dipped into hot wax and rolled in crushed herbs to coat the outside. The herbs will come into contact at some point as the candle burns but typically they stay on the outside and do not come near the wick. Ground spices work well for this type of candle.

 

I hope this article provided you with some insight into botanical candles, their uses, safety concerns and inspiration for different styles to design. Keep your mind and eyes open for other fun ideas for botanical candles and have fun with your gardens and nature this year.