Candles are one of the most popular sources of indoor illumination across the world. They were first invented millennia ago yet they continue to be available in markets all over the world today. Candles are very important because they represent the ingenuity of humans on our journey towards the advancement of artificial lighting, which began right from the discovery of fire. According to historians and researchers, the earliest forms of candles were made when the people that lived in ancient times took the initiative to boil down fat from cattle and other livestock in order to create candle wax.


Right from the invention of the first candles, various types of candles have constantly been popping up all over the globe. Many people and historians usually say that some of the earliest forms of candles are those that were created from boiled down tallow or fat from cattle and other livestock. However, in some other parts of the world, this fat was not gotten from livestock such as cattle, rather, it was gotten from the carcasses of whales and other aquatic mammals which were hunted and slaughtered widely at the time. Asides this, in some other parts of the world – or rather, at different periods in time in other areas of the world – candle wax was made from rolled up insect bodies or more precisely, insects rolled up in some form of paper. In this type of candle, the fuel source comes from the oil in the body of the insect, which helps to sustain the candle’s flame when it is lit.

Now, you might be wondering: “Where does fuel come in when we’re talking about candles?” “Why why are we talking about fuel when we’re talking about candles? A candle isn’t an engine, is it?”

Well, a candle isn’t an engine but it does work a little bit like one.


Candles work on the simple principle of all sustained flames which is: no flame can burn in the absence of fuel. It is not scientifically possible for a flame or a fire of any kind to burn on its own; there must always be a fuel source on which it feeds. In candles, this fuel source comes from the candle wax or – more precisely – from the properties, and physical and chemical constituents of the candle wax. Various types of materials which can adequately serve as candle wax include:

  • Tallow or fat from livestock

This type of candle is one of the oldest types of candles in existence. It has been available for thousands of years and it has a reputation of being relatively expensive and relatively difficult to produce on a large scale in factories, using machines. However, when tallow candles were a lot more popular, candle makers or chandlers used to be in high demand and they used to go from household to household in order to collect the left over fat from the kitchen and use it to make candles for the household, for a fee. Also, during times of famine centuries ago, people used to eat tallow candles because they are made from animal fat, and are therefore supposed to be edible; and even now, some chefs make candles using tallow, season them and serve them to their customers as delicacies.

  • Beeswax

Beeswax is another type of material which is commonly used in making candles. Beeswax is obtained in the raw form from the hives of bees. The harvesting is usually carried out professionally so as not to harm the population of bees in the beehives. Beeswax is a very unique material for making candle wax because candle wax made from bee wax melt very slowly due to the low melting point of beeswax. Also, candles made from beeswax have a solid reputation of burning brighter and giving off a very low amount of soot when burning. Asides this, they are also known for their ability to burn for long periods of time without bending (as a matter of fact, the word on the street is that this kind of candles do not bend at all!).

  • Paraffin wax

Paraffin wax was first introduced in the mid 19th century and it soon became the wax material that changed the face of the candle making industry. The advent of paraffin wax candles marked a big step in the industrialization and commercialization of candles because candles made from paraffin wax were relatively easier to produce in factories in large quantities. Even today, paraffin wax candles are one of the most popular kinds of candles on the planet – if not the most popular kind of candles on the planet – and their popularity shows no sign of waning or declining because not only are they much easier to make compared to other kinds of candles, but they are also cheaper to make in large amounts.


In the midst of all these differences and variety where candles are concerned, it is important to know the unique properties of different types of candles and wax materials so that you will be able to choose the right kind of candle for any occasion. One property of candles that many people are particularly curious about is their lifespan or longevity, and so many people tend to ask this question: “What is the slowest burning candle?”

Well, the answer to that question is beeswax candle. 100% poured beeswax candle. As stated earlier, beeswax has a very solid reputation where candles and candle making are concerned (no pun intended). This is because of their low melting point which directly translates to longer burning time. Also, beeswax can be used to making candle wax without any additives, and even when these additives are added in the form of colors or fragrances, candles made from beeswax still have a tendency of lasting longer than other kinds of candles that are made from other materials such as tallow or paraffin wax.

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