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Using Candles in Your Home Sanctuary

By: Janie Franz - Updated: 6 Mar 2013 | comments*Discuss
Alicia Silverston aromatherapists

Many people choose to put candles in their home sanctuaries. Some place them there for purely decorative purposes for their colours or shapes. Others burn the candles to create an ambiance in a room. Softly, flickering candlelight can be soothing and help people relax. Still others, burn candles for spiritual purposes, such as a meditation focus or for prayer. Some people burn candles in a sanctuary space as a way to transition into the specialness of the space. It is rather like changing into casual clothes when you come home from work. This routine allows your mind to shift into relaxation.

Shapes of Candles

There are many different kinds of candles available today. You can pick them up even in your supermarket or at a department store. You can also find them in specialty shops or on the internet.

Most people chose to buy tapers, the long slender candles we usually see in candle holders when we lay out special china for an intimate dinner. These usually are about twelve inches long, but can be shorter, from six to ten inches. You can also buy fifteen inch tapers. These candles will fit in any standard candle holder and come in a variety of colours and scents. They also can be made from different products. Tapers can also be dripless, meaning that as they burn the wax is consumed and nothing drips down the candle.

Another popular candle shape is the votive or tea light. These are small, fat, round candles. They are about two to three inches tall and about two inches in diameter. They usually burn for about fifteen hours. Some votives are dripless. These candles were first used in churches as individuals offered up prayers. They have now found their way into our homes for decorative use. They also can be scented or unscented and come in many colours.

Pillar candles are large, fat candles. They can be cylindrical, rectangular, or square. These candles range from three inches in diameter to a foot across, and can be three to twelve inches tall. These candles also can be decorated or inscribed with designs. Pillar candles are often used in weddings for the candle ceremony. These candles can also be elaborate works of art. Pillar candles can come in many colours and scents.

In addition, there are round candles that can be the size of a football or as small as a votive. These usually have a flat bottom so that they will remain stable as they are burned. A variation of the round candle is the floating candle. These started out as small round candles that could be suspended in water. As they burn down they will extinguish themselves safely in the water. Today, you can find flowers, fruits, butterflies, and other insect shapes in floating candles.

Finally, you can buy candles in jars or other containers. These can be coloured and scented. They also can be made from different products. And, you can find candles made into animal shapes or depicting trees, flowers, people, or objects.

Types of Candles

Candles can be made from many different products. Originally, candles were made of animal fat called tallow. The strings or wicks were dipped several times into tallow and allowed to harden between each dipping. It took several days to build up a single candle to a desired thickness. To expedite this, dippers used to place several wicks on a wooden stick and then dip all of them at once into the tallow. Today, we no longer use tallow but use paraffin wax. Paraffin candles are practically the only type of candle most of us could buy. These are the ones we have always used on our dining room tables or in small votive holders. They come in many colours, sizes, shapes, and scents. They can also be very inexpensive or can be elaborately decorated pillar candles that can be very costly.

Another candle that has been around for centuries is the beeswax candle. This type of candle is made with a sheet of honey comb, which is naturally formed by bees. Each sheet is rolled around a wick into a cylindrical shape. Some beeswax candles are made from melted beeswax and are hand dipped as tallow candles once were. Beeswax candles come in many colours and scents. Historically, these candles were relatively difficult to find for the common person and therefore cost more. Today, they are as economical as other candles.

Soy candles have newly come on the market. These candles burn longer, cleaner, and more evenly. They generally burn twice as long as paraffin candles. They also produce 95 percent less soot and are non-toxic. Since these candles don't use animal products, they are good choices for vegetarians and vegans or others who chose not to use animal products. Soy candles have become popular with celebrities, including Alicia Silverstone, Sharon Stone, Charlize Theron, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, and Renee Zellweger. Often, these candles have a much stronger scent.

How to Use Candles

Using candles for relaxation takes some forethought. Scented candles can help you relax as their sweet perfume fills your space. Lavender is often used by aroma therapists for relaxation and to relieve stress. Eucalyptus scented candles are often used for the same reason, but you may not find these scents appealing. Food scents are sometimes a good choice because they usually come from natural oils. Orange, vanilla, lime, chocolate, melon, and apple can be found most anywhere. Other florals like lilac, rose, and gardenia can evoke beautiful places. Whatever scent you choose, make sure it is one you really enjoy. If it is a familiar scent, make sure it only brings to mind happy memories. You can also choose an unscented candle.

You can bring colour into your room with the candles you choose. This will help you relax as you look at the lit coloured candles about your space. If you want to go a step further, you may wish to use colour to evoke a specific trait. You may choose a blue candle to soothe you or to meditate on healing or to evoke blue oceans and the restful sounds of ocean waves. If you want inspiration, you may want to light a yellow candle and think of mental or spiritual illumination as a candle flame. The yellow colour will enhance that. If you want to create a loving feeling around you, lighting a pink candle and thinking about world peace or the people you love or who love you. A coloured candle can be a powerful meditation tool.

Besides using candles in an active meditation, you can use the flame as a meditation focus and some people would use a Mandela, an elaborate painted design. By watching the candle flame in a darkened room, you can slow your breath and concentrate on relaxing. The lit candle becomes the center of your vision. There are no distractions but what is in your mind. But if you watch the candle flame move, soon your focus will turn to the candle and away from your thoughts.

Finally, if you use a floating candle, you will have something more complex to focus on. The flame is there, but it moves within the bowl of water. Your eyes will be forced to watch it slowly bob within the bowl. The water also will act as a mirror and multiply the image of the candle flame, allowing a design to form for you to concentrate on.

The act of lighting a candle by itself can often be relaxing. Using candles within your home sanctuary will help you bring more peace into your life and help you manage your stress.

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