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History of Candlemaking

By: National Candlemaking Association

For centuries, candles have cast a light on man's progress. However, there is very little known about the origin of candles. Although it is often written that the first candles were developed by the Ancient Egyptians who used rushlights, or torches, made by soaking the pithy core of reeds in molten tallow, the rushlights had no wick like a candle. It is the Romans who are credited with developing the wick candle, using it to aid travelers in the dark, lighting homes and places of worship at night. 

Like the early Egyptians, the Romans relied on tallow, gathered from cattle or sheep suet, as the principal ingredient of candles. It was not until the Middle Ages when beeswax, a substance secreted by honey bees to make their honeycombs, was introduced. Beeswax Candles were a marked improvement over those made with tallow, for they did not produce a smoky flame, or emit an acrid odor when burned. Instead, Beeswax Candles burned pure and clean. However, they were expensive, and, therefore, only the wealthy could afford them. 

Colonial women offered America it's first contribution to candle making when they discovered that boiling the grayish green berries from bayberry bushes produced a sweet-smelling wax that burned clean. However, extracting the wax from the bayberries was extremely tedious. As a result, the popularity of bayberry candles soon diminished. 

The growth of the whaling industry in the late 18th century brought the first major change in candle making since the Middle Ages, when spermaceti, a wax obtained by crystallizing sperm whale oil, became available in quantity. Like Beeswax, the spermaceti wax did not elicit a repugnant odor when burned. Furthermore, spermaceti wax was found harder than both tallow and beeswax. It did not soften or bend in the summer heat. Historians note that the first "standard candles" were made from spermaceti wax. 

It was during the 19th century when most major developments affecting contemporary candle making occurred. In 1834, inventor Joseph Morgan introduced a machine which allowed continuous production of molded candles by the use of a cylinder which featured a movable piston that ejected candles as they solidified. 

Further developments in candle making occurred in 1850 with the production of paraffin wax made from oil and coal shales. Processed by distilling the residues left after crude petroleum was refined, the bluish-white wax was found to burn cleanly, and with no unpleasant odor. Of greatest significance was its cost paraffin wax was more economical to produce than any preceding candle fuel developed. And while paraffin's low melting point may have posed a threat to its popularity, the discovery of stearic acid solved this problem. Hard and durable, stearic acid was being produced in quantity by the end of the 19th century. By this period, most candles being manufactured consisted of paraffin and stearic acid. 

With the introduction of the light bulb in 1879, candle making declined until the turn of the century when a renewed popularity for candles emerged. 

Candle manufacturing was further enhanced during the first half of the 20th century through the growth of U.S. oil and meatpacking industries. With the increase of crude oil and meat production, also came an increase in the by-products that are the basic ingredients of contemporary candles paraffin and stearic acid. 

No longer man's major source of light, candles continue to grow in popularity and use. Today, candles symbolize celebration, mark romance, define ceremony, and accent decor continuing to cast a warm glow for all to enjoy. 

 

How long will my Wax Candle burn?

The average burn time for wax candles is 6-7 hours per ounce. Therefore a 10 oz candle will typically burn for 60-70 hours. 


Gel Candles are the newest evolution in Candles!! The gel is clear and is essentially a combination of polymer resin and mineral oil. When combined in the right container with a wick it produces an exquisite transparent candle. Because of the clarity of the gel, it gives off about 40% more luminescence that regular paraffin wax.  

How long will my Gel Candle Burn? 

The average burn time for gel candles is 13 hours per ounce of gel. Therefore, a 10 oz candle will typically burn for 130 hours. It is highly recommended that you burn your candle for no longer than 4 hour intervals at a time. Allow two hours in between lightings to allow the contents to cool. 

What happens to the embeds in the candle as the candle burns? 

All embeds in the candle will stay in place as the candle burns down. Remove any exposed embeds as they emerge from the cooled gel. No flammable embeds are used in our products, most embeds are made of glass. 

Taken from the National Candlemaking Association

 

Safety Tips - Burning Instructions

By: Val Augustine

 

FOR WAX CANDLES:

  • Always keep wick trimmed to ¼ inch to prevent smoking
  • Burn until pool of wax reaches edge of candle (ie 1 hour per inch of candle diameter 3’ = 3 hours)
  • Allow wax to cool before re-lighting as cool wax burns longer
  • To prevent drips, keep wick centered and avoid drafty areas while burning
  • Push in sides of soft wax to maintain level surface on top of candle
  • When burning votive candle, place in a votive glass container that fits snug.


FOR GEL CANDLES:

  • Keep wick trimmed to ¼ inch above gel
  • Discontinue use when candle gel reaches ¾ inch
  • Do not burn for more than 4 hours at a time
  • Allow candle to cool & trim wick before burning again
  • Do not extinguish with water
  • Keep out of direct sunlight and heat
  • Remove any exposed embed as they emerge from the cooled gel

 

FOR SOYBEAN WAX CANDLES:

  • Keep the wick trimmed to 1/8 inch to prevent smoking and carbon mushrooming. Retrim every 3 to 4 hours as the candle burns.
  • Burn in a draft free area clear of combustible materials such as curtains, books, baskets, etc.
  • Candles should be spaced apart while lit to prevent uneven burning.
  • Keep the burn pool clean, never throw matches into the candle.
  • Keep candles out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources.
  • Always place the candle on or in a non-combustible, heat-resistant base set on a level stable surface.
  • Extremes of heat and cold should be avoided. Do not store the candles in the freezer and never leave them in a hot car.
  • The candles may be cleaned by washing them gently in cool water. Allow to air dry before use.

NEVER move or leave the candle unattended while burning.


FOR BEESWAX CANDLES:


Here are a few tips to help you get the most from your beeswax candles:

  • Never leave a burning candle unattended.
  • Always place your candle on a non-combustible, heat-resistant surface before lighting it.
  • Trim the wick to about 1/4 inch long before burning to avoid smoking.
  • Keep the candle out of drafts. A draft can lead to smoking, dripping and uneven burning.
  • The first time you burn a candle, allow it to burn until the melted wax (called "The melt pool") covers the top of the candle (about an hour per inch of diameter). In subsequent lightings, keep the burning time down to a maximum of three or four hours. This insures a clean, efficient burning cycle for the life of the candle.
  • Aged beeswax candles burn even longer than freshly made ones. Keep some candles tucked away to burn at a later date.
  • Burning candles close together in groups will affect the burn time and quality of the burn because of heat generated by the candles.
  • Remove any bits of wick or other foreign matter from the pool of melted wax after extinguishing your candle.
  • Use your candles sensibly and safely and you will be able to enjoy their serene beauty and sweet scent for many hours.

  • Remove any wick trimmings left on candle
  • NEVER leave a burning candle unattended
  • Keep candle out of reach of Children and pets
  • Never burn too close to flammables, including silk plants & curtains
  • ALWAYS use caution when handling warm candle
  • Always burn candle on a heat resistant holder
  • Always protect furniture from heat of a burning candle
  • Burn candle with caution and at own risk