March 21, 2010
March 15, 2010
Candles have cast a light on man's progress for centuries. However, there is very little known about the origin of candles. Although it is often written that the first candles were developed by the Ancient Egyptians who used rushlights, or torches, made by soaking the pithy core of reeds in molten tallow, the rushlights had no wick like a candle. It is the Romans who are credited with developing the wick candle, using it to aid travelers at dark, and lighting homes and places of worship at night.
Like the early Egyptians, the Roman's relied on tallow, gathered from cattle or sheep suet, as the principal ingredient of candles. It was not until the Middle Ages when beeswax, a substance secreted by honey bees to make their honeycombs, was introduced. Beeswax candles were a marked improvement over those made with tallow, for they did not produce a smoky flame, or emit an acrid odor when burned. Instead, beeswax candles burned pure and clean. However, they were expensive, and, therefore, only the wealthy could afford them.
Colonial women offered America's first contribution to candlemaking when they discovered that boiling the grayish green berries of bayberry bushes produced a sweet-smelling wax that burned clean. However, extracting the wax from the bayberries was extremely tedious. As a result, the popularity of bayberry candles soon diminished.
The growth of the whaling industry in the late 18th century brought the first major change in candlemaking since the Middle Ages, when spermaceti, a wax obtained by crystallizing sperm whale oil, became available in quantity. Like beeswax, the spermaceti wax did not elicit a repugnant odor when burned. Furthermore, spermaceti wax was found harder than both tallow and beeswax. It did not soften or bend in the summer heat. Historians note that the first "standard candles" were made from spermaceti wax.
It was during the 19th century when most major developments affecting contemporary candlemaking occurred. In 1834, inventor Joseph Morgan introduced a machine which allowed continuous production of molded candles by the use of a cylinder which featured a movable piston that ejected candles as they solidified.
Further developments in candlemaking occurred in 1850 with the production of paraffin wax made from oil and coal shales. Processed by distilling the residues left after crude petroleum was refined, the bluish-white wax was found to burn cleanly, and with no unpleasant odor. Of greatest significance was its cost - paraffin wax was more economical to produce than any preceding candle fuel developed. And while paraffin's low melting point may have posed a threat to its popularity, the discovery of stearic acid solved this problem. Hard and durable, stearic acid was being produced in quantity by the end of the 19th century. By this period, most candles being manufactured consisted of paraffin and stearic acid.
With the introduction of the light bulb in 1879, candlemaking declined until the turn of the century when a renewed popularity for candles emerged.
Candle manufacturing was further enhanced during the first half of the 20th century through the growth of U.S. oil and meatpacking industries. With the increase of crude oil and meat production, also came an increase in the by-products that are the basic ingredients of contemporary candles paraffin and stearic acid.
No longer man's major source of light, candles continue to grow in popularity and use. Today, candles symbolize celebration, mark romance, define ceremony, and accent decor — continuing to cast a warm glow for all to enjoy!
March 13, 2010
- Before lighting your candle make sure the wick is trimmed to 1/4 in". Any longer and the flame gets too high, can cause smoking (soot) and can cause the liquid pool to get to hot and cause a flash fire. All scent oils used in candles have a flash point and keeping the wick trimmed can keep from this happening. Trimming it any shorter than 1/4 in" can cause the melted wax to "snuff" out the candle repeatedly, causing a very poor burning candle. Causing you to have to remove melted wax that can burn you , if not done properly as well as cause you to "throw away" needlessly.
- Make sure that you have a flat, heat safe, level place to put your candle. This is important to allow your candle to burn evenly. Un-level, non-heat safe areas are an accident waiting to happen.
- Avoid Drafts! It is very unwise to place a lit candle near a window, under a ceiling fan, in front of a heating and air vent. Drafts cause the flame to flicker, which in turn causes the candle to burn unevenly, cause the candle to smoke and if near any flammable items such as curtains, it can cause the item to catch fire.
- Always keep lit candles out of reach of Children and Animals!
- Never leave a lit candle unattended!
- When extinguishing the flame it is recommended that you use a wick dipper. By dipping the wick down into the liquid wax, it will put the flame out safely and there will be no smoke! So you don't have that burn smell that usually always follows blowing a candle out. If you don't have a wick dipper readily available, you can blow out the candle by placing an index finger in front of the flame and blowing gently. This causes the air to surround the flame and minimizes the splattering of hot wax from the liquid wax pool.
- Burn candle for the proper length of time. For Jar Candles you want to burn the candle 1 hour for every 1 inch in diameter. So if you have a 3" in diameter candle you will want to burn it for at the least 3 hours to allow the candle to reach its maximum melt pool. This will allow your candle to burn down evenly and get the most out of your candle. if you burn for too short of a time, you will see that this causes your candle to form a "sink hole".
- Know when to "blow out" the flame. You know it is time to put the candle out when the melt pool has reached 1/2 in deep. IF you allow the melt pool to go any deeper than 1/2 inch deep, this can cause it to super heat the wax and can cause a flash fire from the scent oils reaching their "flash point" Stay on the safe side and snuff it at no more than 1/2 in deep.
- Keep your candle wax clear of "junk" referring to burnt pieces of wick or anything else that may have fallen into the wax. Doing so may prevent a flash fire once the wax has heated to a liquid pool.
- Allow candle to cool to a hardened wax before relighting again.