Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Candle making was developed independently in many countries throughout history. The earliest known candles were made from whale fat by the Chinese, during the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC). In early China and Japan, tapers were made with wax from insects and seeds wrapped in paper. In India, wax from boiling cinnamon was used for temple candles. During the 1st century AD, indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest fused oil from eulachon or "candlefish", for illumination. In Europe, the Middle-East and Africa, where lamp oil made from olives was readily available, candle making remained unknown until the early middle ages due to the availability of olive oil for burning lamps.

The Anglo-Saxon King Alfred the Great (c.849-899) used graduated candles, also known as candle clocks. He used these candles to divide up the day into equal periods of study, and prayer, royal duties and rest. There were lines around the sides of the candles to show the passing of each hour, later 24-hour candles were invented based on this concept.

The first American colonist discovered that bayberries could be used to make candles, but the yield was poor. Fifteen pounds of boiled bayberries would provide only one pound of wax. Joseph Sampson was granted a United States patent for a new method of candle making in 1790, this was the second patent ever granted by the US.

Despite the advance of candle making, the candle industry was devastated soon after by the distillation of kerosene (a fuel used in lamps) and the 1879 invention of the light bulb. At this point, (20th century) candles became more of a decorative item. Candles were suddenly available in a broad array of sizes, shapes and colors, and consumer interest in scented candles began to escalate. During the 1990s, new types of candle wax was being developed, due to an unusually high demand for candles.

I can never look at a candle without thinking of our pioneer family's. They made their candles mostly of bees wax and animal fat. They lit their homes with these candles and light from the fire place. It must of been very difficult for them to read or do homework from such poor lighting, and mom had to do the mending at the end of the day, after working all day. The need for fire and light is as old as man himself.

The use of candles has always been popular, from a necessity to enjoyment.
Here are just a few ways people do enjoy the use of candles==On birthday cakes==decoration==for their scent==when reading=bath time==weddings==in restaurants==dinner for two==get rid of bugs==memorials==outdoor night parties==telling scary stories==swimming pools and caroling. Candles are fun and always will be, and I am sure you find good use for them especially when our electricity goes out.


Linda said...

How interesting, Margaret and how appropriately timed! Many candles being used tonight in the midwest - major, major blizzard and sooooo much snow and ice. Thankfully, we haven't had to use our candles yet and the power has been steady, but we have them all out, just in case.
Linda :)

Denise said...

Who would have thought that there would be so much history surrounding the simple candle. Thanks Margaret, always fun to come here and learn. Thank you so much and thanks for stopping by.

Kay said...

The Hawaiian's had an interesting sort of "candle" using the kukui nut.

Here's an explanation from Wikipedia:
"In Ancient Hawaiʻi, kukui nuts were burned to provide light. The nuts were strung in a row on a palm leaf midrib, lit one end, and burned one by one every 15 minutes or so. This led to their use as a measure of time. One could instruct someone to return home before the second nut burned out. Hawaiians also extracted the oil from the nut and burned it in a stone oil lamp called a kukui hele po (light, darkness goes) with a wick made of kapa cloth."

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I love coming to your blog as I know I will learn something new, Most enjoyable to read.

Thanks for the visits and wonderful comments. Lovely of you to drop in.


Anonymous said...

We had a bad ice storm last night and got out the candles and kerosene lamp too.

Momo and Pinot said...

It's always interesting to learn a bit of history about the thing we're very familiar. Thank you for sharing.

A New Beginning said...

Thats a very informative post Margaret...reminds me if candle light dinners :))


Thanks for posting some very interesting information and history of candles. My wife love candles. We have them all around our home.

Take care and have a great weekend :-)


caspersmom said...

Margaret this was very interesting, enjoyed the read on candles. I would assume quite a bit of candle use is going on in the East and Mid-west during all those storms. I had an unusual reaction to the candles that our daughter-in-law was burning on Christmas Day. It felt like they were sucking the air out of me. Never had that experience before. Don't know if it was what they were made of or the scent. Anyhow it did stop after she took them out of the room and blew them out. Really Weird.

Judy said...

Such an interesting post! I use my candles all the time and had to use them one night this week. We had real high winds and the electric was off for several hours. I love candles. I can't resist smelling them in the stores and am always buying them even if I don't need them.

Becky and Gary said...

One of my favorite subjects Margaret. I love candles, and have lots in my house.I used to make my own. We live in the country and lose our electric from time to time. Never be without candles. I burn them almost daily.

dr.antony said...

As usual,such an informative post.
Candles are so romantic and spiritual !

KleinsteMotte said...

We prepared ourselves for the loss of power and candles were ready. We were spared but the candles last and we shall use them when now when we want to create a mood theme. It is the month of hearts so maybe on the 14th? Thanks for sharing your story.

Anonymous said...

OOOH Interesting. Thanks for sharing. Have a great week. ;)

shooting star said...

i love scented candles!!!!
jus love collecting them and decorating my home with them
quite interesting info on candles!!

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