Candles are common household items that have been in existence for a very long time (we’re talking about thousands of years). They used to be quite common in a lot of homes, until the invention of the electric bulb in the 19th century.
Rather surprisingly, the fact that the need for electricity in today’s world has far superseded what candles can deliver, does not mean that candles are extinct today. Even though they are no longer the primary source of indoor illumination in many parts of the world, candles still hold a special place in many households around the globe.
WHAT ARE CANDLES?
Many people around the world know what candles are. They are simple looking objects made of (candle) wax, with a wick running through their centers. Candles are common household tools that are used in the process of creating indoor illumination. This is because when they are lit, their flames usually cast a glow, along with heat. As lighting tools, candles are very common items in many homes around the globe, but they also feature in other roles. For instance, candles are usually put on birthday cakes (and then there is a longstanding tradition of blowing them out, in order to make wishes come true). Also, they are usually depicted as excellent mood setters, in the instance of candlelight dinners; where they may be used in creating a romantic atmosphere between two people who are in a relationship or about to get into one (even when used by people who are not in a romantic relationship, candlelight tends to provide a gentle glow that softens the atmosphere and mood around dinner mates, thereby promoting a warm and stress free environment that facilities the development of positive emotions and feelings among those dining together).
Another great use of candles lies in the realm of aromatherapy, where candles are used to reduce and relieve stress by individuals that light them up and burn them. While plain candles can be used for aiding the process of meditation, scented candles are much more preferred when it comes to the area of aromatherapy. This is because aromatherapy makes use of the inhalation of aromas and scents, derived from natural, plant-based, origins, in order to relieve stress. This kind of therapy (i.e. aromatherapy), has been used by people in several parts of the world for several centuries; however, it has become rather popular in recent years.
WHY ARE CANDLES STILL POPULAR TODAY?
A long time ago, candles were the main source of indoor illumination. Back then, candles were mainly made from tallow or boiled down fat, which was obtained from the carcasses of cows and other livestock. Due to the nature of such ingredients, candles used to be very expensive, and only those who were well off could afford to buy them often (also, it was not uncommon for rich families to sell off their candles, along with other kitchen wares, if they suddenly began to experience financial hardship). Also, because tallow is essentially animal fat, people in the old days used to eat tallow candles whenever there was famine (even now, there are some dishes made with tallow candles, which are sometimes served by chefs in some restaurants, as specials or other parts of the menu).
However, to completely understand the rising popularity of candles today, one has to examine why they fell out of trend in the first place. The simple answer to the puzzle is electricity. The electric bulb was invented and commercialized towards the end of the 19th century. However, shortly before then, paraffin wax candles were made. Candles made from paraffin wax are easier to produce in mass quantity (they were also relatively cheaper), which is why there was a sudden shift from the use of tallow to paraffin, in the field of candle-making. However, the invention of the electric light bulb created a new kind of demand for indoor illumination, which candles could not fulfill.
And this was how the demand for candles began to drop in developed nations all over the world, until they began to rise again in recent years. This recent rise is significantly as a result of the use of scented candles in aromatherapy, which is effective for stress reduction and treatment.
ARE CANDLES DANGEROUS FOR PETS?
Aromatherapy involves the use of scents and aromas obtained from natural plants in order to relieve stress and its effects. This occurs when people inhale the scents released from these special types of candles (i.e. scented candles); to which perfumes have been added, during their candle making process.
Due to the fact that the aromas emitted from scented candles is what is inhaled during this process, many people have a lot of concerns about the concentration of scented candles and their effect of people…and pets.
Scented candles usually contain perfumes and aromas, which are typically added into the wax, while the wax is in melted form. Ideally, these perfumes should be of high quality and, being of plant-based origins, they should contain little to no allergens. However, there is still some concern from candle users about the safety of scented candles (and other types of candles).
The aroma and perfume of scented candles is known to make people nauseous in large quantities. This effect may also take place in pets, especially since a lot of them have very sharp senses of smell (e.g. dogs). Candles are especially bad for pets (and people) that already have preexisting respiratory issues such as bronchitis and asthma, as the aromas emitted from the candles – especially in the case of scented candles – may worsen such illnesses.
Another reason why candles might be dangerous for pets is the risk that exposed flames may pose to their skin. Furry pets that have skin (fur) that easily catches on fire may be susceptible to candle flames, if they stay too close to candles when they burn. This fire risk can be greatly reduced by using suitable candle holders and keeping close watch of candles when they burn (never leave a flame unguarded, especially when you have pets around.