all you need to know
Candles and meditation are undoubtedly a winning combination. In addition to being a pleasing object, a candle helps you to significantly enhance your meditation experience, especially if scented with natural fragrances.
My colleague Marco and I, along with Kira and Daniela, have spent the last six months studying in depth the ingredients , fragrances and effects of candles to create our line of meditation candles . In this guide, everything we have discovered about it is collected. We hope it will help you learn something new about the world of candles and their use in meditation.
Why use Candles for Meditation
Let’s start with the basics: why do you need a candle to meditate?
The answer is very simple: you don’t need it. One of the most fascinating aspects of meditation is that it does not require external aids to have its effects. However, as in any practice that requires perseverance and dedication, often a little help to promote the right mental state can make the difference between a little-felt session and a more profound and immersive one.
Using a candle during meditation is a great way to create an atmosphere suitable for relaxing, but not only: for hundreds of years candles have been used in temples and meditation centers also as a focal point of meditation. In fact, there is a technique, called trataka , which uses the image of an object to empty the mind and promote concentration. Traditionally, the most used object to practice this meditation is the candle.
In fact, staring at the flickering of its flame can be as hypnotic as it is calming. Think about the last time you sat in front of a fireplace and watched the fire burn. The candle allows you to recreate the same effect in any room of your home.
Now that you understand its usefulness, it is important to know how to choose the right candle for meditation. Not all candles, in fact, bring the same benefits.
The ingredients of Meditation Candle
Before buying any candle, it is always good to take a moment to learn about the ingredients it was made with. Both candle wax , wick and fragrances can contain chemicals or additives that are potentially harmful to health.
They are often the cheapest candles you need to worry about, but it’s not uncommon to find toxic ingredients even in high-end brands.
In this section you will learn to recognize the different types of ingredients and their properties.
Wax is the main ingredient of the candle and, as such, largely determines its duration and the degree of toxicity . Candle wax can in fact be obtained from multiple sources, natural and otherwise. Let’s find out the most common.
The wax paraffin is the most common and cheapest on the market. This is the classic wax that is the main ingredient of 90% of the budget candles.
Most people are unaware of the chemicals contained in paraffin wax, which comes from the purification process of petroleum , coal or shale oil . It was found in a 2009 study that this type of wax contains carcinogens and that paraffin candles release toxic fumes (toluene and benzene) when burned. The same research found that soy wax candles don’t release the same toxic chemicals.
The toluene is a colorless liquid and insoluble in water that is naturally found in crude oil. It is emitted by gasoline vapors and is present in vehicle exhaust and cigarette smoke. Toluene is used as a solvent to make paints, nail polishes, lacquers, glues and adhesives.
The benzene is also a colorless liquid derived from natural gas and crude oil, which is used as a solvent.
The consequences of exposure to these two agents can include headache (the chemical toluene primarily affects the central nervous system in the brain), respiratory problems (acute exposure to toluene vapors can irritate the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract) and nausea ( Chronic exposure to toluene at less than 200 parts per million has been associated with headache, fatigue and nausea).
Paraffin wax candles also release soot when burned, which can stain walls, clothing, and be toxic when breathed in. Finally, this type of wax wears out much faster than the other types as it has a high melting point.
- It can release toxins if burned
- It is not renewable or sustainable
- It is cheaper to produce
- Soot can stain the walls
- It can cause allergies and / or irritation
- It burns faster than other types of wax
Soy waxes come from soybean oil obtained from the plant, generally extracted using a mechanical press or a solvent. This oil is then hydrogenated to solidify it into wax.
Soy wax is made from renewable and environmentally friendly resources , as opposed to paraffin wax. Not only are there “green” advantages to choosing soy wax, but also economic ones: soy wax burns slower than paraffin, which means that a candle made from this wax lasts longer.
While all paraffin candles emit black soot when burning, soy wax candles burn cleaner and produce no soot (or produce in negligible quantities). Finally, soy wax is an excellent fragrance carrier that requires no chemical amplifiers. The result is a very fragrant candle with a well balanced aroma.
Benefits of soy wax candle:
- Non toxic
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- It burns longer than paraffin candles and keeps the scent longer
- It burns without soot
- When you buy a soy candle, you are also supporting the farmers who grow it
While soy wax by itself is safe and non-toxic, some companies use synthetic dyes or mix it with additives. Also, pay attention to the wick material (soulless cotton or hemp is best).
Beeswax requires far more resources to make than paraffin and soy, which is why beeswax candles are generally more expensive.
This wax is environmentally friendly, non-toxic and chemical-free. It is also naturally scented and, similar to soy wax, has a melting temperature that makes candles last longer.
However, beeswax is not vegan. So, if you are living a vegan lifestyle, we recommend that you stick to candles made from plant waxes.
Benefits of Beeswax Candle:
- Non toxic
- Burns longer
- Naturally scented
The wick is an often overlooked part of the candle, but no less important than the wax: even the wick, in fact, can be a carrier of toxic substances and emissions when it is burned.
The purpose of a wick is to provide fuel (wax) to the flame. Acting like a fuel pump, the wick draws the liquefied wax into the flame to burn it.
Different sizes allow it to draw different amounts of fuel into the flame. Too much fuel and the flame flares up and produces soot; too little and the flame goes out. This is why it is important to carefully study the shape, material and size of this component.
Most of the wicks are made of cotton and to recognize the “good” cotton from the potentially harmful one it is sufficient to observe the color : if it is an optical white, it has probably been treated with chemical solvents to whiten it. If, on the other hand, it has the natural color of cotton (beige or brownish) it is not treated and is therefore less likely to release toxic emissions when burned.
There are also wicks of vegetable origin, for example those in hemp (which we use for our candles), which guarantee a clean and soot-free combustion.
In recent years, the wooden wick has become very popular , producing a white noise similar to that of wood in the fireplace when it burns. For some people it is very relaxing, but we do not recommend it during meditation as it can be distracting. In fact, its sound is not constant and often “crackles” unexpectedly.
Particular attention must also be paid to the wax with which the wick is covered: many candle manufacturers, in fact, underestimate this component and choose wicks covered in paraffin wax. Although to a lesser extent than the wax contained in the candle, that of the wick can also generate harmful fumes.
The wick should ideally be coated in vegetable wax or beeswax. For wooden wicks, coverage is not required.
We all love colored candles (color therapy is as powerful as aromatherapy), but candle dyes are almost always a double-edged sword.
Those of animal origin, such as carminic acid , are obviously not vegan and unsuitable for those looking for a cruelty free product.
But also the great majority of non-animal dyes present ethical problems: the most common is mica , a mineral present in igneous rocks whose extraction is notoriously unpaid by exporters and very often exploits child labor.
For these reasons, unless you know the origins of the dye, it is always best to avoid buying artificially colored candles. Much better to let the fragrances give a slight tint to the candle (for example, the essential oil of orange leaves a slight yellowish tint).
After examining the ingredients of the candle, let’s move on to the element that most attracts lovers of this object: the perfume .
Meditation scented candles that use aromatherapy properly can help you relax, feel calm, energized, and take on a more productive mindset. We know well how the sense of smell is directly linked to memories and emotions.
The elements to consider when choosing a fragrance are as follows:
- Origin of the fragrance: it goes without saying that the best fragrances are those obtained from essential oils, plants, flowers and in general natural aromas. Artificial aromas can be very pleasant to perfume an environment, but they are not suitable for meditation as they often contain irritating substances for the skin and eyes.
- Intensity: to promote meditation or concentration, it is best to choose a candle that has a delicate but persistent scent. An aroma that is too intense could be distracting, while one that is too weak would not have its effect.
- Effect: Each fragrance has a different effect: some are energizing, others soothing. Depending on your mood, or the chakra you want to open, make sure you choose the fragrance that best suits your purpose.
Here are some fragrances commonly used in candles and universally considered suitable for meditation:
The sweet, floral smell of jasmine flowers is a great option for meditation. Improve your mood and let your worries fade away.
Jasmine has been used in Asia for centuries as a natural remedy for depression, anxiety and emotional distress. These benefits make it a great addition to a meditation session focused on calm and relaxation. We have used it in our candle dedicated to the fourth chakra .
The ‘ incense comes from the milky white sap of trees boswellia sacred . It has a powerful, earthy and woody scent often used in perfumes.
Meditating with incense is an incredibly relaxing experience. This oil has properties that can reduce feelings of anxiety and stimulate the immune system. Add incense to your morning or mid-day meditation practice by focusing on inner calm. We used it in the candle dedicated to the seventh chakra .
The patchouli is a type of herb with a woody scent, sweet and spicy. It is a common essential oil and is most widely known for its connection to hippies in the 1960s.
Breathing in patchouli essential oil has been shown to stimulate the production of serotonin and dopamine. This makes it great for relieving anxiety, stress, and frustration.
While the scent alone may be too intense, it is a great addition to mixed candle flavors. Together with jasmine, it is present in the candle dedicated to the fourth chakra .
The lavender is the most famous fragrance to relieve stress and promote relaxation. Whether it’s lavender flowers, essential oil, or scented candles, you can find this herb everywhere.
Lavender has been shown to help with insomnia and can also relieve feelings of anxiety and stress.
This flowering plant creates a delicate scent that spreads into the air. It can help promote better sleep and relieve anxiety. We used lavender essential oil in the candle dedicated to the sixth chakra .
How to meditate with candles
As we have already mentioned, meditating with candles can significantly improve your meditation practice.
Whether it’s to make it your meditation object, or just to set the mood, a candle is a huge help to focus on what you are trying to achieve. For example, your meditation practice is focused on reducing anxiety and calming the mind, you may find that staring at the candle flame helps you to achieve this more easily.
Here are some tips.
- Prepare the room . Consider dimming the lights and closing the blinds in your meditation space so it isn’t too bright. If possible, also adjust the room temperature to be as comfortable as possible. We advise you to light the candle about an hour before meditation, in order to evenly perfume the whole environment.
- Place the candle at eye level or slightly lower. This is an important step that beginners often get wrong. You must avoid bending over, looking too low or too high. The goal is to maintain an upright, comfortable position that feels natural to you.
- Focus on the flame . Observe the flame, letting the light and movement guide your concentration. At first, your mind will want to wander. Let the thoughts come and then let them pass. Return your gaze and concentration to the flame.
- You may find it helpful to visualize your breath by candlelight. Breathe in a soothing, warm light and exhale your worries.
- As you keep your focus on the flame and continue to breathe rhythmically, you may notice that some of your peripheral vision will fade as you focus on the flame. This is where the magic happens. When the rest of the room disappears and your mind is totally focused on the flame, you have reached the ideal state of contemplation.
Is it safe to put crystals in candles
Putting crystals in Candle has moderate risk. Crystals are not inflammable, but tend to heat up. If overheated, they can get shattered. They can crack the glass of the candle container or create spot on it. If you want to put crystals in Candle, make sure you monitor the candle. If the candle runs out of wax, the crystal gets overheated. Preferably, use crystals that are small in size.
Which crystal you use also matters. Avoid using delicate crystals like opal, selenite. some crystals can crack, discolor or burn.
Using a candle is an extremely effective way to improve your meditation. Not a requirement at all, but it’s worth experimenting to take your practice to the next level.
The candle you choose also doesn’t really matter. We only recommend that you avoid paraffin candles due to the potential health impacts.
Always remember to blow out the candle when you are not nearby and to keep it away from any flammable objects.