In the millennia since their invention, candles have undergone several changes. Many of these changes have come to light in regards to the types of materials used in making their waxes and wicks, while others simply have to do with the functions of candles as a whole. In ancient times, candles were made of sheep fat or tallow as well as fat obtained from other animals such as whales, and insects. Back in those times – millennia ago – the sole purpose of candles was illumination. However things have changed and candles are now being used in aromatherapy.
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN SCENTED CANDLES AND AROMATHERAPY
Aromatherapy is the practice of using concentrated scents to promote good health. This works according to the logic that everything we smell somehow makes it back into our body system. However, science has proved this logic to be true. Even before science tendered its factual evidence – i.e. evidence that supports the fact that particles floating in the air get into the body/respiratory when they are inhaled – people have been using aromatherapy. Aromatherapy has been in use for thousands of years, as ancient people strongly believed that good scents don’t just help you smell nice; they can also affect your quality of life.
Aromatherapy finds some of its bases in the fact that pleasant scents are desired, and people who smell nice may somewhat be easier to be around. Asides this, the best, most pleasant and most desirable scents (perfumes) have been used in several points of history to set aside the rich from the poor. This is because many scents – particularly the concentrated forms which are used in aromatherapy – are obtained from the concentrated extracts from aromatic plants and trees, as well as essential oils. Some of these scents or perfumes are very expensive and, at several points in time, only the rich could afford them in copious amounts.
People who practice aromatherapy usually believe that by inhaling pleasant scents, they are drawing in the soothing and healing properties of the plant extracts and essential oils. Over time, people have found a way to infuse plant extracts and essential oils into candles known as scented candles, which emit the fragrance of these plant extracts as they burn. The addition of such oils and extracts to the candle-wax takes place during the manufacturing of the candles.
HOW ARE SCENTED CANDLES USED IN AROMATHERAPY?
Scented candles are a special kind of candles to which aromatic plant extracts and fragrances have been added. Scented candles are used in order to produce a soothing effect through the inhalation of the fragrance they emit when burned. They are very important tools used in aromatherapy for a wide variety of purposes. Scented candles give off specific fragrances when they are burned and this helps to create a soothing atmosphere. Also, they are usually lit indoors to aid stress relief and to help people sleep.
It is not uncommon to hear insomniacs – i.e. people who have trouble sleeping – say that they cannot sleep without lighting a scented candle; especially in cases where these individuals treat their disorder with aromatherapy. What often happens in instances like this is that the fragrance emitted from lit scented candles – which are usually situated on their bedside tables – wafts to them through the air and then the vapors are inhaled. When this happens, the fragrance or perfume emitted by the candle soothes them and helps them to relax. They start taking in slow, deep breaths as a result of their improved calm state and eventually, they fall asleep. The use of scented candles isn’t limited to the treatment of insomnia, however, its efficiency in this regard cannot be denied or overlooked. This is because insomnia is a disorder that affects millions of people globally; another reason is that there are some negative sides or disadvantages of using scented candles to treat insomnia.
DISADVANTAGES OF USING CANDLES TO TREAT INSOMNIA
There are bad sides or disadvantages to almost everything. Sometimes, these disadvantages stem from the act or process under discussion itself and at other times, they step from the consequences of their use or misuse. When it comes to the use of candles – particularly scented candles – all of these instances apply. But some of the most notable effects have to do with the fact that many people fall asleep with their candles on – completely unsupervised – most of the time that candles are used to treat insomnia. Thus, the disadvantages of using candles to treat insomnia include:
- A very high risk of fire outbreak
Fire outbreaks are the deadliest and most fatal side effects of falling asleep with a candle lit. They usually happen when lit candles are placed very close to curtains and other items that can easily catch fire and aid the spread of the flames. In other cases, the risk of fire outbreak has less to do with the position of the candles and more to do with the fact that they are left unsupervised as strong winds may succeed in knocking them over, thus constituting a fire. Just as common are the instances when the lit candles don’t burn well and then the flames manage to get on the melted candle-wax which has somehow escaped the container. In cases like this, the incidence of fire outbreak soon follows.
- Increased symptoms of respiratory diseases
Falling asleep with a candle on is an act that can be done on purpose or unintentionally. In either case what happens is that the individual’s respiratory system is exposed to soot and vapors from scented candles over the course of the night (which is usually 8 hours). These vapors are usually inhaled as a part of aromatherapy as they are the means through which individuals perceive the fragrance of scented candles. The vapors also contain other components apart from the fragrance, and these components can cause allergic reactions or worsen respiratory illnesses such as asthma. The risk of all these things increases with the number of candles being burned and the duration for which they are left on. This is part of the reason why falling asleep with a candle on is not necessarily a good idea.