Candle Making History and The Everything Dawn Mission
While history shows that candle were first used as the main source of unnatural light during early centuries, it’s made such remarkable changes over time. The candle industry has been reinvented over the course of many years, making them quite different from what they were known to be so many years ago.
Some of the earliest methods of candle making used whale fat, later becoming cow and sheep fat (or tallow), candlefish. These sources of fat weren’t exactly pleasant in smell, as you can probably imagine, but candles weren’t used for fragrance at that time. They were simply as a light source. So burning an oily fish or cow fat wasn’t exactly a luxury.
On the other hand, many of the early candles in India were made using boiled cinnamon, which likely had an amazing aroma while in use for ceremonial purposes. Beeswax, another early used source of candle making dated back to the middle ages, was likely the most pleasant of aromatic candles, but were so expensive that they were only used for royal events, the wealthy, and for churches.
When wicks first came into play, the idea stemmed from the early use of olive oil in lamps that soaked up oil and kept a steady burn. From this came the idea to soak reeds in tallow so that it could be lit to form torches. While even later on, the thought was expanded on when fibers were woven and dipped in tallow to create wicks.
Around Colonial times, settlers discovered the ability to create more aromatic candles by boiling bayberries from the bayberry bush. The wax produced a beautiful bayberry aroma, one that we’ve become a bit familiar with today. It was also a very clean burning candle, giving off less of the carbon (soot) that would come from the animal fats. The drawback of making these bayberry candles is that it was a very tedious process that took far too long to make, and the number of berries it took to make even one candle was quite discouraging.
As time progressed, the 18th century brought a boom in the whaling industry. The sperm whale’s head produced a beautifully burning oil that cut soot phenomenally. Spermaceti, as the oil was called, was crystallized and produced the first of what we now view as more modern candles. It yielded a better product that was not putrid in odor and would hold up in warmer weather, unlike other previous waxes.
By the time of the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution brought early machines that replaced the hands of the chandler (as candle makers were called). Paraffin wax, created from coal shale and oil, was made by using a distilling process to refine crude petroleum. Stearin was also discovered by Michel Eugène Chevreul as a useful additive to the paraffin wax candles to keep them from becoming soft in warmer weather, which is still used in candle making today.
Our modern day candles are no longer primarily used to give us necessary light. We primarily use our candles for luxury, to give us beautiful fragrance, and for a romantic or calming ambiance. They’re a decorative addition to our homes and create aromas that affect our moods and our memories. We use them in memorials and for aromatherapy. Candles have become far more useful than that of the early imagination.
As candles continue to change and the industry grows, it's our mission to remember that there’s one light that has never changed over the centuries, and it's that light that we want to share with our customers.
There are two ways of spreading light: To be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. Edith Wharton