Candles are not strange to many people around the world. They are common household items in some homes, they are usually featured on birthday cakes and then there is a whole tradition of blowing them out to make wishes come true, and they are usually portrayed as mood setters in candlelight dinners or just plain aromatherapy during bath times. But candles mean a lot more than this. They can be described as one of mankind’s oldest sources of illumination, as earliest versions were first invented thousands of years ago by boiling down tallow from cattle to form wax.
HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE CANDLE?
As is the case with practically everything in life, there are proper ways to describe candles. However, it all depends on what a candle means to you. For some people, a candle is simply a cylindrical block of wax that they only see in other people’s houses, in restaurants or on the television. Some simply regard it that something fun but almost meaningless that the baker puts on their birthday cakes in order to mark their years (and then, they have to blow it out in order to get a wish to come true). For some people, candles mean romance – romantic, intimate meals and candle-light dinners – and they can go weak at the knees just by looking at them. For some candles are merely items that they enjoy whenever they want to splurge on self-care or pamper themselves, particularly in the case of scented candles. But for others, candles are important part of their life’s routine of aromatherapy and they cannot even conceive the idea of living without them. However, for some people the idea of candles take on a more solemn tone and it reminds them of the passing away of loved ones. But all of these definitions are rather subjective and they vary from person to person, based on their personality and preferences. A more objective description of a candle would be something like definition given in Merriam-Webster Dictionary, which is: “a usually molded or dipped mass of wax or tallow containing a wick that may be burned (as to give light, heat, or scent or for celebration or votive purposes).” However, that would still be saying almost the same thing, which is that although a candle is made up of wax and a wick, you’re the only person who can describe exactly what it means to you.
THE LONG HISTORY OF CANDLES
No description of a candle would be entirely complete without delving into the long and colorful history of these articles made of wax. The earliest versions of candles can be traced back to thousands of years ago and during these ancient times, candles were made from a myriad of materials including fat or tallow from the carcass of cattle and other livestocks, the body of insects, beeswax and even fat from aquatic animals such as whales. Back then, fat from animal sources would be boiled down to form wax. Wicks made of plant materials and fibers are put into the melted wax made from boiled down fat. And as the years and centuries rolled by, candle-making eventually became a guild craft. Even a few centuries ago, before the discovery of electricity and the invention of the light bulb, candle-making was still a major occupation and candle-makers (also known as chandlers) would go from household to household in order to make candles for a fee. These candles were usually made by using fat from the kitchen, which had been set aside from animal products (i.e. meat, specifically) consumed by the members of the household. These reserved fats were usually boiled down by the chandler and used to make candle-wax. The types of candles formed from this process are usually very expensive as their waxes were made completely from animal fat. Since such animal fat is perfectly edible, people used to consume this type of candles in ancient times, during times of famine and food scarcity. Candle-making used to be such a popular occupation during these ancient times that people would spend months and years in apprenticeship in order to learn the craft. However, the art of candle-making began to decline with the invention of the electric light bulb.
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CANDLES
Another common way to describe candles is by type. There are different types of candles and they come in various shapes and sizes. However, the most common shape of candle is the popular plain cylindrical shape which is very popular in markets around the world today, even though candles can come in different shapes, depending on the shape and patterns of the type of mold used. The reason why the cylindrical-shaped candles are very common is that their shape is very suitable for effective candle-burning and when they are lit, the melted wax they produce tends to accumulate well because the candle usually burns more evenly, compared to other shapes of candles.
Apart from shape and size, candles can also be described according to the type of material used to form the wax. This is why candles in the stores are usually labeled according to the type of material used to make the wax. And so, we have paraffin wax candles, beeswax candles, soy wax candles, tallow candles and so many others; some of these types of waxes burn with very distinct smells. This brings us to the final point; candles can also be described based on the type of aroma or scent they give out when they are lit. Under this category of aromas, we have scented candles and unscented candles. Scented candles are candles which contain perfumes, aromas or fragrances, which are usually added to the melted candle wax during the process of candle-making.
Scented candles emit a particular fragrance as they burn and this makes them very important tools in aromatherapy. Scented candles come in different scents such as lavender, citrus and so on. Unscented candles are the other types of candles under the scent category. Unscented candles are candles that do not contain any fragrance or perfume. They burn without releasing any odor because no fragrance has been added to them during the process of making them. Other types of candles include white candles and colored candles and all these divisions of candles are very useful when it comes to describing candles.