Monday

Candle Making Basics

It always pay to be prepared for your projects, and with this in mind, the following list of candle making gear should get you started.

Wax (paraffin, soy, beeswax, fat, or a combination)

Wicks (either pre-purchased or handmade)

Containers or Molds (Test all glass containers for suitability by filling them with boiling water. If they don't break, they're sturdy enough to use as candle containers.)

Candy Thermometer (Wax can ignite if it gets too hot. The thermometer is a precautionary measure. Always follow the temperature instructions that came with your wax.)

Fragrance (I like aromatherapy grade essential oils for this step.)

Dyes (Wax specific. Available where wax and wicks are sold.)

Double Boiler (or a container that can be used as a double boiler. For soy wax you can also use your microwave.)

Basic Process

You melt the wax, either one type, or a combination, in a double boiler or other two pan arrangement where the wax is melting in a water bath, not directly on a heat source. Color and add fragrance to the melted wax, and pour the hot mixture into a container or mold in which you have placed a wick. Make sure the container will sustain the heat of the melted wax by seeing if it will stand up to boiling water. Allow the wax to dry then top off with hot wax to smooth the surface, trim the wick, and use.

For more information on wax, wicks, fragrance and dyes, please see:

Candle Making Tips and Tricks
Make Easy Lavender Aromatherapy Candles

Wednesday

Making an Easy Lavender Aromatherapy Candle

Candles are easy to make, and combining lavender aromatherapy with subdued candlelight is a great recipe for relaxation. Whether you want to indulge in a candle for a lavender scented bath, romantic dinner for two, or as a mood enhancing tools to get the party started, being able to make lavender scented candles for pennies is a good trick to know.

First some cautions:

For safety, have a candy thermometer on hand. If wax gets too hot it can combust.

When working with wax, use a large pot into which you can place a smaller pot. This is commonly known as a double boiler, but there's no need to go for the expensive kitchen gadgets, you just want to be able to float one pot inside another. Many recipes will use a microwave instead of melting wax on the stove too. The recipe below uses a microwave, but having a double boiler on hand will give you additional options and allow you to work with other kinds of wax, like paraffin.

Keep the kids and animals out of the kitchen for this one, at least until you get the hang of it. Wax is HOT and it sticks, so you'd better do this in a controlled environment with fewer chances for accidents.

Have plenty of paper towels or newspapers on hand for cleanup.

When selecting containers, particularly for jar candles, choose a sturdy vessel. You can finesse a candle into a fragile glass or jar, but then you have to worry later that it will get too hot and shatter. Err on the side of caution and pick a glass container that is going to hold up if things get hot.

Making Lavender Scented Candles

To make my lavender candles, I use four cups of soy wax to which I add ten drops of aromatherapy quality lavender essential oil. I often refrain from using any dye. I melt the wax in the microwave then add the fragrance and stir. (Microwave temperatures vary, so read the instructions for the wax you're using for recommendations. Unless you know the wattage of your microwave, start with the lowest melting time and work up from there in thirty second increments.) I then pour the mixture into glass containers that I've tested beforehand with boiling water and preheated in a warm oven. I center wicks (the rigid variety with bases and zinc cores) in the containers and pour the wax into them carefully.

Once the candles have cooled completely, I heat a little reserved wax and pour it on top to fill in any depressions created by the cooling process. After the wax has hardened, I trim the wicks. I can usually get four to five candles per batch, but the size of your container will determine how many candles you'll be able to make.

If this is your first attempt at candle making, please read about the basics in my articles: Candle Making Basics and Candle Making Tips and Tricks. Making your own aromatherapy candles can be satisfying and economical. It can also be dangerous, so understand what you're doing before you begin.

Friday

Homemade Lavender Water

Making your own lavender water is easy and economical. All you need is an inexpensive Vodka, a bottle of lavender essential oil, and some distilled water. A little oil and Vodka go a long way, and a bottle of each will last for months, if not years. You can use the lavender as a mild antibacterial, air freshener, as a fragrance for linens, or as an aromatherapy agent.

Lavender has tested as a useful agent in slowing your central nervous system, and lavender water, sashets, bath salts, oils, and other lavender related products do help in relaxing you, calming your nerves, and helping you sleep: Lavender Water Recipe

Wednesday

Lavender Bed Pillow

I've had a difficult time sleeping for years. I wake up at night, toss and turn, and have a terrible time getting back to sleep. It seems to come in cycles, a few weeks of restful sleep, and then more trouble. One of the things that I've found really helps me is placing a lavender bag near or inside my pillow.

I use a small muslin teabag filled with dried lavender flowers. Sometimes I'll accompany this with a soothing bath with filled with lavender bath salts. It really works.

I buy small muslin bags in packages of about a dozen. (I make up extra bags as gifts.) They are small enough to fit easily in the pillowcase without making a bump. I can smell the lavender, but just barely.

If you are having trouble sleeping through the night, give it a try.

Make Lavender Facial Scrub

Lavender Facial Scrub Sometimes the best products are the ones you make yourself. This easy lavender facial scrub recipe uses three ingredients to make a mixture that will clean your face and help it heal itself. It is all natural and it takes about five minutes to prepare a batch.

Lavender Facial Scrub

If you add a few whole lavender flowers to the mix, this makes a beautiful gift. In a pretty glass bottle tied with a lavender ribbon, it's a sure winner. While you're at it, make up some lavender bath salts to go along with it and you have the beginnings of a very nice gift basket.

Monday

Lavender in History

Lavender is one of the most versatile of herbs. It isn't used extensively in cooking, but few other herbs have as rich or romantic a history as lavender.

As attractive to men as to women, lavender is truly a fragrance for everyone, and its therapeutic value in aromatherapy makes it one of the prime herbs for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Become a lavender lover by finding room for lavender in your garden, kitchen, bedroom, and bath.

I have prepared a number of articles about lavender, and today's involves its long history. So, grab a cup of coffee or tea and read about the history of lavender: Lavender in History .

Before you go, remember that lavender is lucky, so this spring, plant a versatile English lavender plant in your front garden and see who drops by for a visit.