Aromatherapy Candles: Best Essential Oils for Relaxation and Stress Relief

Aromatherapy and Stress Reduction: What Is It and Does It Really Work?

Aromatherapy is a word we hear a lot of nowadays. Especially when it comes to candles. 

Products are labeled this way and marketed as aromatherapy. Every month there are almost 3000 searches for aromatherapy candles alone. We know this world can be very stressful at times and finding ways to relax, de-stress, and calm our anxieties seems to be a priority for many people. We even give gifts of aromatherapy to our family, friends, and coworkers wanting to help them unwind or feel rejuvenated. 

But what exactly is aromatherapy? Do all candles qualify as aromatherapy? And can certain scents truly help us relax?

Great questions! And important ones if we want to be able to use scents as a way to change our moods or help others as well.

Definition of Aromatherapy

After a search of online dictionaries, this definition has all the vital components.

Aromatherapy is an alternative or holistic treatment that uses essential oils from plants for therapeutic purposes of promoting well-being and health. It can do this through inhalation—breathing in the scent—and through the physical application of the oils, like massage.

Scent-therapy is another closely associated term used recently to help us understand that aromatherapy is a valid treatment when working with someone’s overall well-being.

History of Aromatherapy

With our culture of advertising, you might think aromatherapy is something rather new. Massage therapists promote special aromatherapy massages. Companies are popping up that sell aromatherapy rollers. Even established companies have aromatherapy lines. Some examples include bath salts, lotions, and bodywash all scented with essential oils. 

But it’s nothing new. Which makes for an even better case that it works!

People all over the world have used scents to alter moods and promote healing for centuries. Research shows that this practice is over 5,000 years old. But it wasn’t until the 1930’s that the term aromatherapy was first used. Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, a French chemist, used it in his research on the benefits and production of essential oils.

One of the possible reasons aromatherapy has become so popular is a number of research studies have shown positive results. Now, our knowledge of essential oils and aromatherapy isn’t only based on people’s opinions and experiences. It has scientific data to back it up.

An article in Medical News Today gives the results of multiple studies.  One study showed a reduction in anxiety when inhaling lavender. And another study reported reduced cortisol—the stress hormone—with Clary Sage.

Chryssa Chalkia is a psychotherapist and has studied how scent affects us. In her article Scented candles to reduce anxiety, she reminds us that “Our sense of smell is incredibly powerful and shouldn’t be underestimated. The smell of the scented candle stimulates the part of your brain which is connected to memory and mood.

Chalkia uses candles with essential oils to help her clients relax and feel less anxious during sessions. In her article, she also included a list of specific scents with their benefits for changing mood when feeling anxious or stressed.

Essential Oils Are the Key

When looking to use aromatherapy to promote relaxation, one key element that you want to look for is the essential oils being used. A word of caution though. Some candles or other aromatherapy products might contain artificial fragrances because there isn’t regulation for products claiming to be aromatherapy. This is why it’s vital to read the label to ensure the product you use contains actual essential oils. 

The reason essential oils are important is that they’re taken directly from the plant. When the phrase, “essential oils” is used it means the oils are the concentrated substances that come from plants. This includes using its seeds, roots, stems, leaves, and blossoms. 

Each plant holds valuable raw material that’s used when extracting the oils. The interesting thing is that the part of the plant that’s used is determined by the scent needed. For example, to extract the lavender or geranium scent, the entire plant is used. Only the leaves are used for lemongrass and just the fruit peel is used for bergamot. 

Don’t take a shortcut when finding the right candle or other product if you are using it for aromatherapy. Sure, artificial fragrances will cost less. But the scientific data is proven only with natural essential oils.

Scents That Are Best For Stress Relief and Relaxation

With so much research done in the last century, we get to have this information right at our fingertips! 

There are numerous essential oils to reduce stress and many others that elevate our sense of well-being. The amazing thing is the effect scents have on us is “based on how the brain processes smell.” 

Therapist Chakria continues to explain that “The smell of scented candles stimulates our limbic system, the part of the brain that is home to our memory and emotions. Hormones like serotonin and dopamine can be produced to help regulate mood.  Therefore, our emotional state is influenced by the relationship that exists between scents, memories, and emotions."

This is partly why specific scents effect people differently. For example, the scent of a gingerbread candle might increase someone’s happiness or sense of well-being. This is because it reminds them of childhood memories. But the gingerbread scent won’t do this for everyone.

Thankfully, certain scents reduce stress by using the essential oil itself. Research shows these scents promote relaxation, reduce stress-producing hormones, or increase hormones that boost happiness. These essential oils don’t rely on a person’s memories to do this

Use this list to choose an aromatherapy candle for relaxation and stress reduction:

  • Lavender. This is one of the most popular (and easily found) essential oils. It can relax your body and mind almost instantly and it has a long list of other benefits including help with nausea, insect bites, and migraines.
  • Orange, Sweet Orange, and Citrus Bergamot. These are similar scents but each has its own unique benefits. Orange reduces stress and anxiety-related conditions. Sweet Orange also lifts mood while reducing stress. Bergamot is an oil that’s usually combined with others in candles. It improves negative emotions and fatigue—both can be symptoms of stress and anxiety. Plus, all these citrus oils have extra benefits that help with physical symptoms in the body.
  • Frankincense. Used to treat anxiety, this scent calms your body and mind giving you relief from stress.
  • Ylang Ylang. Extracted from a tree flower, it uplifts your mood counteracting feelings of stress. This essential oil is usually combined with other oils in candles.
  • Clary Sage. This essential oil is a mood lifter. It’s a powerful oil that shouldn’t be used with pregnant women because of its effect on menstrual cycles.
  • Sandalwood. This oil stimulates certain glands which aid in relaxing your mind and body.

There are so many beneficial essential oils! While not a full list, it can get you started looking in the right direction for relaxing and stress-relieving aromatherapy. With multiple scents and oil combinations, there is sure to be the perfect candle for you.

Aromatherapy and Self-Care

Reducing stress in your life has many benefits. Studies have shown that lowering stress can increase the quality of your life, lower the risk of health issues, and extend the years of your life. 

Plus we know its benefits from our own experience. We can breathe easier when we are less stressed. Our thoughts are more positive, we’re more productive, and our interactions with others become more valuable.

Taking care of yourself is vital, especially when it comes to reducing feelings of anxiety and stress. We know that eating healthy foods and exercising are essential for our physical well-being. In the same way, improving relaxation and decreasing stress are essential to our overall sense of mental well-being.

Using candles as aromatherapy is one of the easiest ways to give yourself the gift of self-care. Breathe in your relaxation with an aromatherapy candle today!


Many of the candles in the Classic Collection at Bungalow Candle Studio uses these scents in combination with other essential oils. Try Orchid & Vanille made with lavender or Neroli & Fig which includes Orange Blossom. And the Kitchen Collection carries candle created with pure lavender essential oil--perfect for relaxation throughout your home.