Candles are not the largest or least portable, as far as household items go. However, they are perhaps one of the most illustrious (although, some people may not entirely agree). This is because of the long history of candles, and their notable evolution in terms of purpose and raw materials over time.

There are a number of things candle lovers need to know about candles, including; how they were first made and were they originated from, what materials are used in making candles, the reasons why candles are used in birthday cakes and how to blow them out.


There aren’t many people that wonder how candles were first made, but a lot of avid candle lovers do find themselves wondering about the answer to this question; at least once in their lifetimes.

The history of candles is a lot longer than most people realize. This is because candles have existed for thousands of years (millennia). Some of the earliest versions of candles can be traced back to about 5 000 years ago, when ancient civilizations like the Ancient Greek and Ancient Egyptians were in their height of power and popularity. These ancient civilizations (along with Ancient China) were at the core of invention back then, and they made candles through a series of efforts that eventually resulted in the creation of the version of candles we now have today.

Earlier versions of candles are various and numerous in number. In some cultures across the world, candles were made from insects wrapped up in some kind of paper (in this kind of scenarios, the insect usually serves as the fuel source, which feeds the flames when ignited. And the paper provides structure to the entire thing, which makes it easy for the makeshift “candle” to be lit). However, in most places around the world, the first steps into candle production involved the use of tallow. Tallow is rendered fat, which has been obtained and extracted from slaughtered cows and other livestock (in order parts of the world, such as Ancient China, some tallow candles were made from aquatic mammals such sharks and whales).



There are different types of materials used in making candles, especially in this day and age. The materials used in making candles can be grouped into different categories, such as: the candle wax used, the type of dyes used, the type of fragrance used, the type of wicks used and so on.

  • The type of candle wax used

The type of candle wax used in making candles is one of the most important materials that determine many things about the candle. There are different types of waxes used in the production of candles and they include the following; tallow, beeswax, soy wax, palm wax, coconut wax and so on.

Tallow wax is the oldest kind of wax in existence (at least, according to historians). It was first used thousands of years ago, by people in ancient civilizations (e.g. Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome and so on), who were among the first to venture into the realm of candle making. This adventure into the field of candle making – as one might call it – was very important and essential to the field of illumination and the evolution of lighting as we have it today. However, there are certain drawbacks to the use of tallow; tallow is unclean, for one. When tallow candles are burned, the gases and effluents they give off are usually filled with toxic materials that may cause harm to people and the environment in large quantities. Another reason why people do not like tallow candle is that they emit an unpleasant aroma that is similar to the smell of burning fat.

Other types of candle wax such as beeswax, soy wax, palm wax and coconut wax are a lot more preferable to tallow wax, because they burn cleanly. Paraffin wax, however, is the most common wax in the world. Yet, it is petroleum based and the gases released from it are not very safe or clean (especially in large quantities).

  • The type of dyes used

The types of dyes used in coloring candles usually contribute to the properties of these candles formed. Usually, natural dyes are more acceptable than those of a more chemical nature. This is because they are less likely to emit toxic gases or materials that can cause damage to people and the environment; compared to artificial dyes.

  • The types of fragrance used

The type of fragrance used in making candles matter a whole lot to the composition of the candles; fragrance adds to the allure of candles, and change a lot of things from the use of the candle to cost.


The tradition of blowing out candles can be traced to the Ancient Greek tradition of lighting candles in the worship of Artemis. Some other superstitions linked to the practice of blowing out candles include the following:

  • The granting of wishes

It is believed that blowing out candles on a birthday cake can grant a person (i.e. the birthday celebrant) their wish.

  • Good luck

Blowing out candles on a birthday cake is also thought to usher in good luck to the birthday celebrant during their coming year.

  • The right number of candles

While some people do not fuss about the number of candles required to be on their birthday cakes, others believe that it is necessary for the number of candles on a cake to synchronize with the birthday celebrant’s age; in order to make their wish come true.

  • The number of wishes you get

Lots of people who are into superstitions about birthday candles believe that you get only one birthday wish. Others may disagree but this is still one of the most common superstitions linked to blowing out birthday candles.

  • How you make your wish

One of the most popular superstitions linked to blowing out birthday candles is the idea that when you make your wish, you must close your eyes. You must also take special care not to say it out loud, so that it would come true.

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