Candles are undoubtedly an important part of many celebrations such as birthdays. For example, in some countries, candles occupy an extremely important place and have a rich symbolism of Christmas. Also, holidays aside they add a nice atmosphere to the home and come in handy when the power goes out.
These things are quite clear, but have you ever wondered how candles glow and burn with this flame? What exactly is this substance that makes them burn so long?
History and art of making candles
Not much is known about the origins of candles. Some believe that the first candles appeared in China around 200 BC. The first Chinese candles were probably made with whale blubber. Others credit it to the ancient Egyptians. According to some historians, the ancient Egyptians used lights made by soaking dried reeds in melted tallow.
Of course, none of these options were beautiful and had a wick like today’s infused candles (https://worldinfusedcandles.com.au/). There is already a piece of evidence here. The Romans created the candles with wicks that you light today in homes and churches. Early candles were usually made with some form of animal fat, which burned very well, but definitely didn’t smell like cinnamon, chocolate, or vanilla like the candles today. These first candles also had another problem. They smoldered terribly and were therefore quite difficult when they had to be lit indoors.
Materials for making candles
Over time, other materials were used to make candles. In the Middle Ages, people discovered that beeswax was much more suitable for candles. On the other hand, there was a problem here too, they were too expensive and only the rich could afford them. In the 18th century, spermaceti “wax” was often used for candles. The first candles that look like modern candles were made from this very substance.
Most candles today are made of paraffin. Paraffin is a waxy by-product of oil refining and was first distilled in 1830. Paraffin revolutionized candle making because it was cheap, easy to burn, odorless, and smokeless. The only disadvantage of paraffin is its low melting point. Eventually, candle makers discovered they could add stearic acid to paraffin to make the candles harder and melt more slowly. Today, most candle manufacturers use modern production equipment, including molds for the mass production of candles.
However, some artists prefer to make candles the old-fashioned way, by repeatedly dipping the wick into warm beeswax or paraffin. They then shape it in an interesting way and the candle will become a real work of art.