After the invention of candles thousands of years ago, the candle-making industry has seen a lot of changes and evolutions; first in the nature of the materials used in creating candles and then in the tremendous decline on the heels of the invention of the light bulb in the 1800s. In recent decades, however, the industry seems to have taken a new turn with the growing global interest in scented candles, and once more there is a huge shift in demand. However, with new changes come new statistics and one burning question of everyone’s minds: “who uses candles the most?”
THE USE OF CANDLES
Candles have been in existence for thousands of years and so their usage dates back to millennia. Some of the earliest types of candles discovered were made from boiled down tallow or fat from candles. In some parts of the world, the fat used was obtained from other animals such as whales while some people even utilized insects in the making of candle-wax. The wicks which were used back then were usually unprocessed – or lightly processed – plant materials which served the function of soaking up the fuel (i.e. the constituents of the candle-wax) and supplying them to the flames, in order to keep the candle burning.
Over time, different other materials have been used to make candle wax including beeswax and eventually, paraffin wax. The invention and commercialization of paraffin wax candle was something that changed the entire face of the candle-making industry of that era, as candles made from paraffin wax were easier to produce in large numbers at a time, and they were also cheaper than the previous types of candles. Similarly, kinds of wicks used changed to treated, better and improved versions that did a much better job of soaking up fuel and supplying it to the flames. Currently, candles made of paraffin wax are still the most popular kinds of candles in the world while the most commonly used types of candle wicks are those of the treated kind which are made from braided cotton, with a curl at their ends which allow the wicks to disintegrate gradually as the candle burns.
However, soon after the invention of paraffin candles, the electric bulb was invented and it fulfilled the role of indoor illumination much better than the candle ever could. Consequently, candles soon began to be viewed as nonessential goods in many parts of the world.
WHO USES CANDLES THE MOST?
In spite of all odds, candles continued to persist even to this day. However, the need and uses of candles simply evolved in order to fit into a new role in society. Although, candles are still important sources of indoor illumination, they are no longer the most ideal. Instead, they have found a new niche in the area of aesthetics and aromatherapy, particularly in the form of scented candles.
Scented candles are candles which have been imbued with fragrance and perfume during their creation process. They emit sweet-smelling aromas and perfumes of the utilized fragrance when they are lit, along with other vapors and soot. Scented candles have a very fixed role in aromatherapy, a process whereby aromas and pleasant odors from plant based natural oils are used as therapy and meditation aids in order to calm the nerves, set the mood and relieve stress. Asides aromatherapy, candles – even unscented ones – have been used for aesthetical purposes (e.g. at dinners) for mood setting.
Due to this new evolutionary bent in the use of candles, there is a new trend that shows a growing demand for candles globally as scented candles are becoming more popular with each passing year. This new trend of demand has resulted in new set of data about those who use candles as well new statistics.
Old data and information about the demand and purchase of candles in the era before the invention of electricity showed that many households around the world had a considerable demand for candles, however candles made from paraffin wax sold faster and in larger amounts compared to candles made from tallow or animal fat. Back then, everybody exhibited a demand for candles, however the new data of recent years suggest otherwise. Some of the new information includes the following:
- Women now buy candles more than men
New statistics generated from the candle-making industry in recent years suggest that the major buyers of candles around the world are women. Therefore, the industry has listed women – particularly women with families – as their primary target market. There are no established reasons for this other than the fact that women seem be more inclined to pampering themselves and taking care of their mental health and this is the role that candles (especially scented candles) play in aromatherapy.
- Elderly people do not purchase a lot of candles
New statistics generated from the candle-making industry in recent years indicate that the rate of demand and purchase of candles reduce with increasing age. Therefore, younger people tend to buy candles more than individuals who are above the age of 65. This may be because younger people are more inclined and (physically) able to pamper and take good care of themselves compared to elderly people who are above the age of 65.
- Some countries import a lot more candles than others
One of the most interesting facts about the new statistics of the demand for candles is that some countries import a lot more candles compared to others. Countries like the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, Netherlands and France top the charts when it comes to purchasing candles and reasons for this may be attributed to their favorable gross domestic product (GDP), and the considerable purchasing power of their citizens compared to some other parts of the world, along with their high level of development. All these factors are important contributors to an increased demand for candles since candles are no longer listed as essential goods in developed countries such as the United States, Germany etc and the citizens of these countries may be able to allocate a higher percentage of their income to obtaining candles due to their higher purchasing power.