Candles have been a part of human history for centuries, used as both a necessity and a luxury. We love candles for their soft, warm light and pleasant fragrance. But perhaps you’ve wondered how long candles have been around, what exactly constitutes a candle and how do they work? If you’re curious about how to choose the perfect candle, we have answers that will enlighten you!
- A brief history
The word candle comes from the Latin word candere, meaning “to shine.”
In India, a plant-based wax was obtained by boiling the fruit of the cinnamon tree. In Japan, wax was extracted from a kind of tree nut. In China, early candles were made from wax collected from insects. They were molded in paper tubes, and used rolled rice paper as a wick.
Early European societies continued to rely on animal fat candles, which produced a smoky flame and were often foul smelling. Beeswax candles were introduced during this time, but were so expensive that most people couldn’t afford them for home use.
In the 19th century, paraffin was introduced. Paraffin was odorless and burned more cleanly than animal fat candles, and was inexpensive to produce.
And before they were used to seet a mood for romance or decorate a table, candles have had a long and fascinating history that’s full of intrigue, power, and mystery.
- Shape, size & purpose
These cylindrical candles are moulded from wax that’s rigid enough to burn free-standing, which means they can be displayed alone, inside a hurricane lamp or on a decorative heat-resistant plate.
With their tall and slender proportions, taper or dinner candles work perfectly in candlesticks and candelabras. They tap into a more traditional aesthetic and lend an air of sophistication to dining occasions.
Also known as the prayer candle, votive candles are small and usually cylindrical or square. They’re presented in a protective vessel and perfect for adding small dose of candlelight to bedside tables, bathroom units or shelves.
Petite and inexpensive, tea lights are one of the easiest ways to welcome candlelight into the home. The small, round candles are ideal for scattering across high and low surfaces, and they offer maximum impact when placed in multiples.
Container candles are simply candles made in containers. The wick is weighted or attached to the bottom of the container, and then the wax is poured in. Container candles have the advantage of not needing a candle holder. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, with single and multiple wicks.
Floating candles are small candles designed to float in liquid. These can be placed in an outdoor water feature, such as a pond or fountain, or used to create a centerpiece. Floating candles often have rounded bottoms (kinda like boats!) to help them float. These candles should not be used outside of their intended purpose; it is not safe to burn them outside of a container of water. These candles are small and shorter than they are wide, and are often molded into flowers or other pretty shapes.
- Wax & Wicks
Did you know that those two simple compounds of a candle come in a wide variety of options?
Paraffin wax is clean burning, nearly odorless, and very white. These make it great for taking on color and fragrance in candle production.
Beeswax is produced by bees. Beeswax is clean-burning, but even refined beeswax has a yellowish color, and a smell reminiscent of honey. Since beeswax is an animal product, it is not considered vegan.
Palm wax is made from the fruit of the oil palm. It is longer-burning than paraffin, and burns cleanly. As a vegetable based wax, it is vegan, and is a natural wax. However, palm wax production suffers from the same environmental and social problems that the palm oil industry does, including deforestation and dangerous working conditions.
Soy wax is extracted from soybeans. Similarly to palm wax, it’s all natural and a vegetable based wax. It tends to be clean-burning, and burns longer than paraffin wax due to its higher melting point. Soy wax, when not mixed with other waxes, is not as hard, making it perfect for making container candles.
For most of our candles, Peitho perfumes uses Rapeseed & Coconut wax blend – Vegan, eco friendly and natural.
Standard wicks are made of cotton or paper and are the most common type of wick used in candles. They are efficient and create a steady flame, but can sometimes produce soot.
Hardwood wicks are made of materials like birchwood or maple and are denser than standard wicks. This type of wick burns slowly and evenly, producing little to no soot.
- Tips & safety
Never leave candles unattended and always keep them away from flammable materials, children and animals.
Burn your candles sway from open windows or fans.
Always let candles burn until the entire surface becomes molten. This increases burn time and prevents tunnelling (the appearance of an outer ring of hard wax that won’t burn, creating an uneven surface).
Trim candle wicks regularly (to 6mm) to remove black soot and achieve the longest, cleanest burn possible.
Keep pools of molten wax free of debris such as match ends and wick trimmings.
To prevent dripping, keep candles away from excessive drafts and extinguish pillar candles when the wax pool reaches the edge.
To protect your candle vessel, never burn the last centimetre of wax and remember to handle candle containers with care as they can become very hot.
Don’t burn candles for more than four hours as wicks can begin to form a ‘mushroom’.
Use a candle snuffer to extinguish candles and ensure that wicks stay centered.
If smoking occurs, blow the candle out, trim wick(s) and relight.
Don’t place pillar candles directly onto furniture. Always use a heat-resistant plate to protect surfaces.
Never sleep with lit candles in your home.
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