An Enduring History: Why Candles Have Always Lit the Way
Description: Learn about the history of the candle, and why they are still relevant today.
For thousands of years, candles have been lighting the way, either used as a means to light a home at night, or ceremoniously to honor the gods, or the fallen. Candles have never gone out of style in all that time as being one of the earliest forms of portable, yet sustainable light sources. Some of the world’s most inspired writing was done by candlelight, and families have always gathered around candles at night to tell stories to entertain. So, why have candles endured through so much of human history?
Nobody knows for sure who was the first civilization to invest in and harness the wonder of candles. Ancient Greeks and Romans used candles in many of their religious ceremonies, from honoring Artemis to using papyrus wicks. Around the same time in history, India had their forms of the candle, creating wax through boiling cinnamon. Ancient Egypt is often historians' choice for the earliest use of candles, although their earliest form of candles didn’t include the now customary wick.
The wick, which helps keep candles last even longer, can be seen being used as early as 500BC by the Romans, with papyrus acting as the wick in the center of a candle made from melted tallow or beeswax. The Qin dynasty in China also had a form of wick candle that used rice paper as the wick, and whale fat or local insects combined with seeds as the wax.
Despite its humble origins, candles have continued to evolve over the years with the first major evolution being the use of beeswax, which burns much cleaner than any form of animal fat or other insect-based fat. Beeswax candles by the early to mid-second millennium were still very expensive to make, so we’re often limited to use by the church for special ceremonies. Tallow candles still continued to persist for the lower classes though, who sourced their tallow from butchers and skinners. With the two main varieties, that meant that almost everybody could have access to the light by which to continue their activities with family well into the night.
The candle to become the first of the “standard candles” started appearing in the 18th century; bleached spermaceti from sperm whales created candle wax that was harder, and capable of producing an even brighter light. This led into the work of French chemists, Michele Chevreul and Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac to develop stearin wax, which is still very popular in Europe today. Further development of the candle came in 1834 by mold maker Joseph Morgan, and the adaptation of braided wicks led to the mass production of candles, greatly increasing their affordability and availability to everybody.
Today, candles are available in a variety of shapes, colors, brightness and even scents. While they are mainly decorative in our modern society, they are still an important aspect to civilization, used in many forms of art, meditation, and holistic medicine practices. As well, they are still a staple in emergency supply kits for easy and portable sources of light, or basic cooking heat.
If you are interested in all natural 100% pure beeswax candles for around your home, whether it is for a candelabra, tea lights, or birthday cakes, visit Hyoola Candles for a wide selection of USA-made candles.
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