Essential Oils versus Fragrance Oils is a hot topic in the hand made candle community.
When we first started making scented candles at The Mod Cabin we experimented with fragrance oils. At first we thought it was a great idea, fragrance oils are cheap and come in literally thousands of different scents. But within the first few days of using fragrance oils we began to experience headaches, nausea and just an overall malaise.
We discovered the fragrance industry uses at least 4,000 different chemicals in fragrance oils, many of them have never been tested for safety. There can be up to 600 different chemicals in an individual candle fragrance oil and fragrance manufacturers are under no obligation to list what they are. At The Mod Cabin we are proud to use only natural essential oils in our products and unlike most candle and skincare companies we list every single ingredient we use on our ingredients page.
According to a report done by the National Academy of Science (Report by the Committee on Science and Technology. U.S. House of Representatives, Sept. 16, 1986) [Report 99-827], 95% of chemicals used in fragrances are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum. This includes but is not limited to benzene derivatives, aldehydes, toxins and sensitizers which are capable of causing cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions.
This has prompted places like Halifax, Nova Scotia to encourage citizens not to use fragrances in public because of the potentially harmful effect of synthetic fragrance oils.
Essential oils on the other hand, are humankind’s first medicine. Long before profiteers on the New Jersey Turnpike began using synthetic chemicals to mimic the scent of natural plants and flowers to increase their profit margin, indigenous shamans and healers were using the liquids from local seeds, bark, leaves, stems, roots, flowers, and fruits to produce natural healing remedies.
Both ancient Egyptians and Chinese used essential oils for their healing properties. In fact, there are 188 references to essential oils in the Bible. The three wise men presented Jesus of Nazareth with the essential oils frankincense and myrrh. There is even evidence that essential oils have been used for natural medicinal and aromatherapy purposes in ancient India, Greece, Rome and Pagan cultures.
Essential oils provide therapeutic benefits that are both physical and psychological. For instance, Peppermint Essential Oil can help relieve nausea, aid in healthy digestion, relieve itching and cool overworked muscles. Lavender Essential Oil calms your nervous system, improves sleep quality, combats joint pain and helps with everything from urinary disorders to respiratory problems as well as high blood pressure and even acne.
That being said, there are some essential oils that should never be used in candles or skin care. Mugwort, arnica, pennyroyal and rue are examples of essential oils that can be harmful if used for aromatherapy or skincare purposes. In addition, some people are allergic to essential oils that are beneficial to most people. This is why we list every essential oil we use in each of our products. In some cases we use base oils such as patchouli, vanilla and cedar in small amounts to help extend the length of other, faster burning essential oil top notes such as eucalyptus, spearmint and sage. We always list these ingredients, no matter how small of an amount we use, so you can be sure that nothing in our products will aggravate your allergies or cause you health problems.
It should be noted however that a large amount of plant material is used to make essential oils. There are some essential oils such as those made from Rosewood Trees in Madagascar that are endangered. This is largely due to political and social chaos coupled with a lack of international protections. We do our best to research our suppliers and use essential oils responsibly.
The bottom line is there is an ecological impact to every product you purchase and consume. While we cannot say that we have completely eliminated the negative effects of essential oil distribution, we do our best to use local and environmentally conscious suppliers and are always searching for ways to lessen our ecological footprint.