HISTORY OF CANDLES

Beeswax Candle MakingA candle can be defined as a porous, combustible core, surrounded or saturated with an inflammable solid. At the start of the 4th century Emperor Constantine chose a more than ordinary resinous brand to serve as a torch to light up the darkness, as a result the city of Constantinople was able to be illuminated with lamps and wax candles on Christmas Eve.

The Colonial and Indian Exhibition of 1886 exhibited many devices for obtaining continuous light including oily nuts burnt in clay saucers, wick drawn through a penguins body, oil filled conch shells and rushes coated in hard wax. In principle these items are no different from the rush lights that were used 1000 years before, as seen by Apuleius in the "golden ass" where he describes servants with torches, lamps, tallow and wax candles. These candles were doubtless what are called dips and made in the same way as they are made today.


Flambeaux, candles used in the 17th and 18th century to illuminate the halls of the nobility were made from alternate layers of tarry resinous oakum and crude beeswax.


Skin Nectar & Crystal Beam (RF Techno Art)Moulded candles are said to have been introduced by Sieur de Brez in the 15th century for tallow but were rather expensive. Spermaceti candles appear near the middle of the 17th century and came from the oil mass in sperm whales heads, thought to be the spawn of the whale (sperma ceti), these were quite popular among the wealthy. In 1830 candle making was a large business and in Great Britain alone there were almost 2700 chandlers.


Night lights or mortars are small candles that can burn all night, made from coconut oil or paraffin with a fine wick designed to last 8 -10 hours. 


In the late 1800s large machines from America began to be used, these were used in Sydney candle factories up until 1915, when electricity began to push aside the need for candle lighting. These large factories faded away quickly but some machines from this period can still be found.


Most Chandlers such as SKINNECTAR are now much smaller and supply a specialist beeswax candle market. Most supply dipped, rolled foundation or moulded candles.


Safely melting the clean beeswax by either a double boiler or by carefully direct heating, it must be at just above 70-80C but not higher as the wax degrades. Heating wax in a water bath is not recommended as the wax takes up water and causes spluttering of the candle.


HINTS ON SUCCESSFUL CANDLE MAKING

Probably the most important point to remember as you go to pour the wax into the mould is that it must be just above its melting point (70C). If it is too high the candle will solidify with holes and cracks and will not come out of the mould very easily.

Large candles are harder to get out of a mould so the use of anti-stick such as vegetable oil lightly rubbed over the mould helps a great deal. Correct wick size and type is very important and can only be determined by extensive testing that means keeping a diary of notes and experiments.

I test my candles as much as possible to detect changes in wick and wax from my suppliers which can occur at any time. Seasonal changes also affect the way candles burn. Especially tee lights or night-lights, which become molten inside a vaporizer and are thus really lanterns.

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