Candles have existed for thousands of years and are a true testament of humanity’s ingenuity. This is clearly seen in the level of creativity involved in creating the earliest forms of candles from boiled down tallow or fat from cattle and other animals, while wicks were made from plant fibers. Back then – thousands of years ago when the earliest forms of candles were invented – mankind succeeded in creating a design of wax and wick which is still the template for candles manufactured in this modern day. However, a lot of people wonder if candles are still popular.
WHAT ARE CANDLES?
Candles are simple objects made of waxes and wicks, which provide illumination when lit. They were first invented thousands of years ago by the humans that existed millennia ago. The earliest forms of candles were made from fat or tallow from cows and other cattle (along with fat from other livestock) which were boiled down to form wax. While the wax was still in its melted, liquid form, wicks (just one per candle) were inserted into the centre of the candle and the whole thing was left to solidify. After the candle has been cooled, the solidified wax – which is usually in a cylindrical shape, as a result of the shape of the mold – serves as the energy source which provides fuel to the candlelight after the wick of the candle has been lit.This is because the way a candle works is the same as that of any other flame, and no flame can continue to burn in the absence of fuel. The fuel that keeps the flame of a candle burning is usually found in the wax, and it is made available when it melts. This is why no candle can continue to burn after its wax has been exhausted.
There are different types of candles, and their differences may be based on the size, shape, color or even the type of materials used in making the wax and wick. In terms of shape, candles usually come in cylindrical forms although the sizes may differ. This is because the familiar cylindrical shape aids the proper burning of the candle. Candles also come in different colors, although the most popular color is white. On the basis of the type of materials used in making the candles, candles can be made from beeswax, paraffin wax, tallow and so on.
ARE CANDLES STILL POPULAR?
A longtime ago, candles were one of the main sources of indoor illumination, but things changed with the discovery of electricity and the invention of the electric light bulb. Although, candles are still relevant today, they are not as popular as they once were. But this does not undermine the relevance and popularity of candles today. As a matter of fact, one amazing thing about candles lies in the fact that they still exist in the present day and age, and are yet to go extinct, even though the global demand for indoor illumination has long exceeded their capacity.
The popularity of candles faced a decline over a century ago, after the light bulb was invented, however, candles still experience a sizable amount of popularity. This is because they come in many different forms, shapes, colors and sizes. And it is also because there are many uses of candles, thus creating a high level of demand for them. The various uses of candles include the following:
- Indoor illumination
Candles are used to provide indoor illumination and they are often used as a source of lighting, particularly in the absence of electricity. This is why it is not unusual to light candles during blackouts. Candles are perfect for indoor use and are more suitable for this purpose than for outdoor illumination. This is because when candles are lit outdoors, there is a higher tendency of them being put out by strong winds and fast blowing air. Indoors, however, candles can last longer when lit and the range of their brightness can be felt more significantly.
Another great use of candles, which has also contributed greatly to their popularity today, is aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is the use of pleasant aromas and fragrances from plant sources in relaxation and for stress release. Scented candles are the types of candles which are usually used in aromatherapy; these are candles which contain fragrances and perfumes with desirable aromas which are emitted when the candle is lit and burning. Scented candles are usually formulated by adding fragrances and perfumes – usually in liquid form – to melted candle wax in molds, during the candle-making process.
Aromatherapy makes great use of scented candles because candles are portable, easily accessible, and they provide a suitable means or method of emitting desirable scents. In recent decades, scented candles have become a very substantial part of the candle-making industry. This can be confirmed by data compiled by the National Candle Association (NCA), which indicates that three-fourth of candle buyers say that scent is very important to them.
- Birthday celebrations
For what seems like eons now, candles have occupied aspecial niche in birthday celebrations. Blowing out birthday candles is a very important part of birthday traditions that has only been made possible through the existence of candles. This tradition has also contributed greatly to the popularity of candles in this modern day and age.
Another area of popular culture on which candles have made their mark is the creation of romantic atmospheres. Romance always sells and candles move with the trend. This is why when you think of romance, it’s not unusual to envision candlelight dinners and bubbly bathtubs swathed in candle light.
HOW CANDLES ARE STILL POPULAR TODAY: FACTS AND FIGURES
Information made available by the National Candle Association (NCA) shows that the retail sales of candle products in the United States of America are estimated to be $3.14 billion annually (according to Mintel, 2013). The facts and figures also clearly show that container and jar candles are some of the most popular types of candles purchased in the U.S. Scented candles are also very popular and they make up a large percentage of candle sales in the U.S, as two-thirds of regular candle buyers claim that scent is an essential part of their candle selection process.