The Top 3 Benefits of Burning Candles

The dark and cold winter months offer the perfect reminder of self-care via candlelight. Here are the top three benefits of burning candles. There is also a handy  chart that will help you decide when to choose among paraffin, beeswax or soy candles.

Benefit #1 – Celebration and Appreciation

“In all cultures, light is a symbol of joy and life-giving power, while darkness is a symbol of death and destruction.”

People light candles:

During Worship

In Christianity, candles represent the light of Christ. Buddhists say that candles are the light of Buddha’s teaching.  In Judaism, candles are a reminder of God’s divine presence. “The candle’s flame is also thought to symbolically represent the human soul and serve as a reminder of the frailty and beauty of life.”

To Accompany Prayer

When candles are lit to accompany prayer or intention, as they are in the Catholic Church, they celebrate not only Christ as the light of the world, but also the light of faith in our hearts. Some believe that the smoke from a lit candle is what takes a prayer to heaven. This may be where the tradition of “making a wish” before blowing out a birthday candle comes from.

To Remember the Dead

In the Catholic faith, candles lit for the dead are both a remembrance of the individual, and a continuation of the prayers offered for that person during life.

In Judaism, memorial candles confirm that the memory of the deceased person lives on and still burns bright.

To Show Solidarity

Candlelight vigils show support during difficult times or solidarity with a cause. In this context, candles symbolize the light of goodness over the darkness of evil. Vigils bring comfort to the people who have gathered together, and attention to the victims or the cause being supported. lit candles on a birthday cake, one of the benefits of burning candles

To Celebrate a Birthday or Special Event

In the time of the Ancient Greeks, round cakes resembling the moon were presented at the temple of Artemis, goddess of the moon. Candles on the cakes represented the moon’s glow.

Birthday candles have been around since at least the mid 1700’s in Germany when birthday cakes for children included a candle for each year of their life, plus extras to represent the years to come.

During a Romantic Dinner

While it is the setting and the company that makes a meal romantic, candles help. In addition to contributing a soft glow to the event, the subdued light of a candle means that your eyes dilate in an effort to let in more light. Dilated pupils look attractive and seductive.

Benefit #2 – Relaxation and Meditation

There is something mesmerizing about flame, whether in your fireplace or on a candle. Staring at a flame is a great way to quiet your mind.candle flame for meditation benefits of burning candles

If you simply want to feel more peaceful, enjoy the gentle glow and soft shadows created from candlelight in any room of your home. For example, you might use candles along with a hot bath for a double dose of relaxation.

Many people find it easier to meditate when looking at a candle flame. Trataka is the practice of gazing at a candle flame, or at any other object. It is a part of Hatha Yoga. Here’s a short (2.5 minute) video about the practice.

In the video, Trataka is suggested as a way to prepare your mind for longer meditations. However, you can also use the candle flame to visualize specific ideas such as flame as a source of love, or burning away your problems.

Benefit #3 – Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the practice of using essentials oils, which are extracts from plants, to promote your physical and emotional wellbeing.mortar and pestle flowers in background making essential oils

The idea, in part, is that scent is the most powerful of your five senses. Certain aromas remind you of specific memories, enhancing both your feeling of relaxation and your mood. Some aromas are also purported to have physical benefits. For example, jasmine is supposed to help improve hand-eye coordination and lavender slows your reaction time to help you sleep.

Two points to remember are: use scents that you find appealing, and choose candles infused with natural essential oils rather than artificially scented candles.

Here’s a simple infographic of some of the most common scents and how they help.  If you’d like a download of the infographic, click hereinfographic of eight common scents, with photos, to show aromatherapy benefits of burning candles

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Choose Your Candle

three beeswax candles on a hardwood floor

If You Want Then Choose
a natural scent beeswax. It is scented by the honey and floral nectar in the honeycomb.
essential oils soy. The essential oils will release slowly.
the most light beeswax. Their light is the closest to natural sunlight.
the least expensive candle paraffin. They are 1/10th the cost of beeswax.
very little smoke and soot beeswax because it produces the least. Paraffin produces the most. Soy is in the middle.
to support local farmers beeswax or soy.
a longer burn time beeswax or soy.
minimal dripping beeswax or soy.
help relaxing any candle will do!

Remember to never leave a candle unattended and to keep it in a non-tip holder at least twelve inches away from anything flammable.

Which of the benefits of burning candles do you enjoy? What kind of candles do you like? Which scents? Have you tried candle meditation? Please share in the comments below. 

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  1. I like candle light at dinner either for a romantic dinner or a celebratory dinner like Christmas when family and friends gather at the table. It just looks and feels classy and special.

    I have used candles while relaxing in a bath before – that is a great way to relieve stress or soothe a migraine. Now that I only have access to a shower that will no longer work for me. 🙁

    Don’t even go there when it comes to birthday candles…my cake would look more like a forest fire these days. LOL

    I can’t have scented candles here as our landlady is highly sensitive to smells and lives right above us. 🙁 I had to donate my boxes of scented candles to Value Village when we moved. I am glad they are getting used at least.

    Great information Karen, it is good to know the differences when it comes to what a candle is made of and the properties of smoke and soot. Thanks for letting us know the various factors that come into play when choosing candles.

    1. Ha ha. Instead of thinking of your birthday candles as a forest fire, perhaps consider that your cake is now like the moon cakes of the Ancient Greeks. It offers lots of ‘reflected glow’. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  2. I’ve been using soy candles for quite some time now. And I agree with all the benefits of burning candles that are listed here. I would really recommend it to anyone who’s looking for the perfect scented candle. And I just want to share something.. It is also good for our health! Especially to those who have asthma. You may avoid scented candles because you’re afraid of having an attack but say no more.. soy candles won’t give you that effect. They are very good! 😀

    1. I didn’t know that scented candles could affect someone with asthma. That’s interesting information. And it’s good to know that soy candles aren’t harmful. Thanks for leaving a comment, Hunter.

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