Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Scented Candle Wicks - Mushrooming

One of the main problems that interferes with the scent throw of a scented candle is something called "mushrooming". This is the formation of carbon dioxide that builds up at the end of the wick and interferes with the combustion. This happens because the wick becomes clogged. This carbon formation causes soot and an odor of burning.

In order to reduce mushrooming it is best to have a candle with a non-cored wick. This type of wick is less likely than a cored wick to become clogged. Non-cored wicks produce a cleaner burn and will not interfere with the scent throw of the candle.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bath and Body Herbs

There are many herbs that have beneficial properties and make great additions to soap and other bath products. Some have natural astringent, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory properties. Some herbal scents can be uplifting and stimulating and others can be soothing and relaxing. Herbs can enhance the quality of your bath.

Chamomile: Chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties and is very soothing and relaxing.

Citrul Peel: The peels of orange, lemon, and lime are natural exfoliants and have astringent properties. They also have a strong uplifting scent.

Green Tea: Green tea contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that it can protect the skin against sun damage.

Lavender: Lavender provides antiseptic, antibacterial and healing properties. It is soothing and can relieve stress.

Lemon Verbena: Lemon verbena has a gentle lemony scent and can soothe dry or irritated skin.

Mint: Mint contains antiseptic properties. It contains menthol which is cooling to the skin. It has a strong stimulating scent.

Rosemary: Rosemary helps improve circulation and relaxes muscles. It has a stimulating and refreshing pine-like scent.

* None of this information is meant to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care by your physician.

The History of Candle Making

In ancient times, the precursors to candles were torches and rushlights made by dipping the pithy center of tall grasses into tallow (animal fat). The wicked candle was developed during the Roman Empire. The Romans melted tallow and poured it over a horizontally held wick made from the pithy center of tall grasses. The cooling tallow was smoothed and shaped by hand around the wick. These candles were used to light homes, during religious ceremonies, and also for traveling after dark.

During the Middle Ages, beeswax, a natural material produced by honeybees, was discovered as an improvement over tallow for use in candle making. Tallow produced alot of soot and gave out a sharp, bitter odor as it burned. Beeswax burned clean and odorless. The problem was, however, that beeswax was much more expensive, thus it was mainly used by the rich and by priests for use during religious ceremonies. In 15th century France, people began to use molds to make candles. Hollow cylinders were used for molds. These molds had a small hole in the center. The wick was placed in the hole, and melted wax was poured into the cylinder. Small wires held the wick in place as the wax cooled. In order to make several candles at once, a device called a broach was used. The broach was a long rod from which several wicks were attached. Melted wax was poured into a container and the wicks were dipped into it a few times and hung to dry. Once they had dried, they were dipped again and again until they were thick enough.

In the 19th century, spermaceti, a waxy substance taken from sperm whales began to be used in candle making. Spermaceti burned clean like beeswax and it was found to be harder in texture than both beeswax and tallow. Paraffin wax, a byproduct of petroleum, also began to be used in the 19th century. Stearic acid, a chemical byproduct of fat, was added to the paraffin to make it more durable. By the end of the 19th century, most candles were made by using paraffin wax and stearic acid.

In the 1990's, as people began to look for a natural alternative to paraffin wax, soy wax was introduced. Soy wax, made from soybeans, is not only all natural, it is also more economical than beeswax. Soy wax also has more benefits than paraffin wax; it is environmentally friendly, it is biodegradable, it burns clean and produces less soot, and it does not contain toxins or carcinogens.

Copyright © 2006 TC Fragrance Crafts.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The History of Potpourri

People utilized the fragrances of flowers, herbs and spices for at least 6,000 years. Originally, herbs, scented oils, extracts, and incense were used only in religious rituals and ceremonies. However, the nobility and the wealthy began to indulge in scented products. The extravagant Roman emperors used them in festivals, rituals, and sporting events. The Romans indulged in public bathing and constructed elaborate bath houses where people had aromatic oils massaged onto their bodies and in their hair and beards to enhance the bathing experience.

By the Middle Ages in Europe, however, bathing became quite rare. Houses had very little or no plumbing, and public bathing was condemned as immoral by the religious community. There was poor ventilation in buildings and homes. In order to combat odors in castles and banquet halls, fragrant herbs were strewn on the ground so that they would be trampled by the crowds of people, thus releasing the fragrances into the air. People also carried nosegays, small bunches of fragrant herbs which were held close to the nose when there were strong odors around. Bunches of fragrant flowers were also hung in doorways and on rafters. Some people dried flower petals and placed them into sachet bags and put them in drawers to scent the clothes and repel insects.

In order to freshen rooms, people collected partially dried rose petals and placed them between layers of salt in covered jars and left them to cure or rot, thus the name potpourri which means "rotten pot" in French. When the jars were uncovered, the fragrance filled the room. Although this method was fragrant, it was unattractive because the bleaching action of the salt discolored the beautiful flower petals.

Today, potpourri is made with totally dried flower petals, thus preserving the beautiful colors as well as smelling fragrant and fixatives are added to hold the scent. With all of the varieties of flower petals, leaves, spices, herbs, dried fruit peels and slices many wonderfully colorful and fragrant potpourri combinations can be made.

Copyright © 2006 TC Fragrance Crafts.

Herb Myths

Throughout the centuries, herbs have provided many practical uses. Their aromatic leaves have been used for cooking, decorating, and medicinal purposes. Many myths and legends have also become associated with herbs. With their healing properties as well as being tasty, fragrant, and attractive, people throughout the ages believed they the plants possessed magical qualities and attributed some interesting myths to them:

Bay Leaf: According to myth, the beautiful Daphne was changed into a bay as she escaped the clutches of Apollo. Thus, Apollo made a crown out of bay leaves and branches and wore it in her honor; In the 17th century it was believed that bay leaves repelled witchcraft. Pots of bay were placed in front of doorways in order to ward thwart evil spells and curses; It was also believed that bay would prevent one's house from being struck by lightning.

Chamomile: The Anglo-Saxons believed chamomile was one of the sacred herbs given to the earth by the god Woden; In Victorian times, chamomile symbolized patience in adversity; Chamomile is believed by some to possess the power to attract money, gamblers soak their hands in a chamomile infusion in order to increase their chances of winning.

Cinnamon: The Romans believed cinnamon to be sacred, and the emperor Nero burned bunches of it as a sacrifice at his wife's funeral; In the Middle Ages, cinnamon represented wealth and power. At large banquets, hosts served cinnamon in order to impress the guests.

Cloves: When the fragrant clove forests were discovered in Indonesia, it was said that they must always be planted around water in order to flourish; For over 4,000 years, people chewed whole cloves in order to freshen their breath and it was said that in ancient China if anyone wanted to speak to the emperor, they were required to have a clove in their mouth.

Dill: Dill represented wealth to the ancient Greeks; During the Middle Ages, dill was believed to possess magical powers and could destroy evil spells. A drink made from dill leaves was the remedy for anyone who believed that a witch had cast a spell on them. People also wore charms made from dill leaves to protect themselves from evil spells.

Fennel: During the Middle Ages, fennel was hung above doorways and on rafters in order to ward off the devil. Fennel seeds were also placed inside keyholes in order to prevent ghosts from entering the house; In 470 b.c. the Greeks defeated the Persians at Marathon. They fought on a field of fennel and this led to the belief that fennel inspired courage and strength. Greek and Roman soldiers chewed fennel seeds before entering battle.

Lavender: Legend says that the pleasant smell of lavender comes from the baby Jesus. After washing his swaddling clothes, Mary hung them to dry on a lavender bush. Thus, the plant was given the smell of heaven; In the Middle Ages it was believed that couples who place lavender flowers between their bedsheets would never fight.

Mint: According to myth, Hades had developed a lust for a nymph named Minthe. Hade's wife Persephone found out and angrily transformed Minthe into a plant to be trampled on. Hades could not undo the spell, but he was able to ease it by giving Minthe a wonderfully sweet fragrance which would be released whenever her leaves were trampled on.

Oregano (Marjoram): The ancient Greeks believed that Aphrodite created oregano; They believed that if it grew around a grave, the deceased would have eternal happiness; In Germany, oregano was hung over doorways to protect against evil spells; In the Middle Ages, oregano symbolized happiness and love.

Rose: According to myth, the first roses did not have thorns. While Venus' son Cupid was smelling a rose, a bee came out and stung him on the lip. Venus then strung his bow with bees. She removed their stingers and placed them on the stems of the roses; Myth also says that all roses were originally white until Venus tore her foot on a briar and all the roses were dyed red with her blood; In Christian lore the red color of roses comes from the blood of Christ.

Rosemary: From the times of ancient Greece through the Middle Ages, it was believed that rosemary strengthened the brain and memory. When they needed to take exams, students braided rosemary into their hair in order to help their memory; The ancient Greeks burned rosemary in order to repel evil spirits and illness; In some parts of Europe, it was believed that if an unmarried woman placed rosemary under her pillow, her future husband would be revealed to her in her dream.

Sage: The Romans believed that sage was a sacred herb that gave immortality. Up until the 18th century, it was believed that sage increased fertility. It was also believed that sage strengthened the mind.

Thyme: During the Middle Ages it was believed that the scent of thyme inspired bravery. Knights wore scarves with thyme leaves sewn on them during tournaments; In English lore, if a person collected thyme flowers from hillsides where fairies lived, and rubbed the flowers on their eyelids, they would be able to see the fairies.

Copyright © 2006 TC Fragrance Crafts.