History on Candles

Were the Ancient Egyptians the first that made candles?


For almost 5,000 years, candles have been used as a source of light and to celebrate occasions. Candles have traditionally played an important role in our daily lives, from providing a basic light source to mood lighting and creating a fresh, pleasant aroma. Few inventions have had such a long-term impact on civilization as the candle. Despite the fact that little is known about its origins, the history of the candle is nonetheless an intriguing subject to research.


Early Candles

It's nearly impossible to say who invented the first candles because of their nature and purpose. Throughout history, evidence of candle production and development can be found in a variety of locations.

It is impossible to identify who invented the first candle, from the early Greeks who used candles to honor the goddess Artemis' birth, through the Romans with their papyrus wicks, to India, where the wax was made by boiling cinnamon.

Many people believe that the first candles were made by the Ancient Egyptians using rushlights or even torches. Early versions of the candle, on the other hand, were manufactured by soaking the cores of reeds in melted animal fat and hence lacked a typical wick. The less fortunate in the British Isles also used this form of the little torch-like candle for numerous decades.

Around 500 BC, the Ancient Romans began to develop their own candles, complete with the now-standard wick. Their candles were made by repeatedly dipping rolled papyrus into melted tallow or beeswax. From lighting their houses to religious rites and festivals, these candles were employed in their daily life.

In China, evidence of whale fat candles has been discovered dating back to the Qin Dynasty. The wick was made out of folded rice paper, and the shaping mold was made out of paper tubes. They generated a wax from a local bug, which was then mixed with seeds, in addition to using whale fat as wax.


Who created the first candle?

Did you know that the Ancient Egyptians are widely credited with the invention of candles? By soaking the cores of reeds in melted animal fat or tallow, they constructed rushlights and torches. Reeds are tall grasses with narrow leaves that grow near water or on marshy land. Tallow is beef or mutton fat that has been rendered. It's melted into a liquid and put onto flax or cotton fibers to make a wick. Rushlights, on the other hand, was said to lack the wick of a proper candle.

Meanwhile, the development of wicked candles is attributed to the Ancient Romans, who are claimed to have done it by repeatedly dipping papyrus in melted tallow or beeswax.



Middle Ages

Candles made from animal fat were used by the majority of early Western cultures (tallow). In the Middle Ages, beeswax candles were introduced to Europe, which marked a significant advancement. Beeswax, unlike animal-based tallow, burnt cleanly and without producing a smoky blaze. In addition, rather than the nasty, caustic odor of tallow, it had a nice sweet aroma. Beeswax candles were commonly used at church ceremonies, but only the wealthy could afford to use them at home since they were so expensive.

Tallow candles were the most prevalent household candle in Europe, and candlemaking had become a guild skill in England and France by the 13th century. Candlemakers (chandlers) went from home to house, either creating candles from kitchen fats kept for that purpose or selling their own candles from small candle shops.



Colonial Times

When colonial women realized that boiling the grayish-green berries of bayberry bushes created a sweet-smelling wax that burned cleanly, they made America's first contribution to candlemaking. The wax from the bayberries, on the other hand, was incredibly difficult to remove. As a result, the bayberry candles' appeal quickly faded.

When spermaceti — a wax made by crystallizing sperm whale oil — became available in large quantities due to the expansion of the whaling business in the late 18th century, it marked the first substantial advance in candlemaking since the Middle Ages. When spermaceti wax was burned, it did not emit a foul odor and generated a substantially brighter light than beeswax. It was also firmer than tallow or beeswax, so it didn't soften or bend in the heat of summer. The earliest "standard candles" were produced with spermaceti wax, according to historians.


Birth Of The First Standard Candle (18th Century)

The expansion of the whaling industry in the late 18th century ushered in the first major revolution in candle production. Spermaceti, a wax created by crystallizing sperm whale oil, was discovered. During that time, it became widely available, and it was utilized to make candles. People preferred this sort of wax since it did not have an odor when burned and produced a brighter light. Historians have highlighted that Spermaceti wax was used to make the first standard candles.


Development of Stearin Wax (the 1820s)

Thanks to a French scientist named Michel Eugene Chevreul, contemporary candle production saw considerable advancements during this time period. He figured out how to get stearic acid off of animal fatty acids. Stearic acid is a fatty acid that can be found in both animal and vegetable fats. It's tough, long-lasting, and burns cleanly. Stearin candles are still popular in Europe today as a result of this.



Introduction to Paraffin Wax (the 1850s)

Chemists discovered how to purify a waxy material found naturally in petroleum. Paraffin wax burnt cleanly and reliably despite its low melting point. It was also less expensive to manufacture than other types of candle fuel. By adding tougher stearic acid, it was able to raise its melting point.


The Decline of Candle Making (1879)

Through the distillation of kerosene, Thomas Edison offered light bulbs to the globe. Despite its advancements, this resulted in the candle industry's downfall. It became less functional as a light source and more of a decorative piece in the home.


Candle as a Commodity (19th Century)

Joseph Morgan helped enhance the candle industry by inventing the machine that mass-produced molded candles in 1934. The machine worked by ejecting solidified candles from a cylinder using a piston. Because of this mechanical production, there was a sufficient supply of candles, making them a cost-effective commodity for the general public.


Popular Times (20th Century)

Candles' popularity remained stable until the mid-1980s. As interest in candles as ornamental items, mood-setters, and gifts grew, they began to pick up again. Candles were available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors by that time. Scent candles were also created as a result of consumer demand.

When new types of candle waxes were being developed in the 1990s, candle popularity soared once more. Soybean wax, which is softer and slower burning than paraffin, was found by agricultural chemists in the United States. Palm wax was also being developed for use in candles in other nations.


Candles Today

Candles have come a long way since their initial use. While they are no longer used as a major source of light, they continue to grow in popularity and use. They're still a part of our daily lifestyle. Candles now available in a wider variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and even fragrances, thanks to the development of new wax compositions.

Candles are now used to signify a celebration, to ignite romance, to relax the senses, to honor a ceremony, and to complement house decors, all while providing a warm and pleasant glow for all to enjoy. Candles are currently used in various kinds of occasions to offer the appropriate mood lighting for romance, like décor, and to add solemnity to rituals all over the world. Though candles are now mostly used for pleasure, no one can dispute that their radiance will always have a place in our lives.

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