Candles - The Past and Present
Origin of Candles:
- Candles, in many shapes and forms, have been used as a main source of light for more than 500 decades. These natural lights were also used as celebratory illuminations in almost all parts of the world. It is believed that candle making was developed independently in many places evidently throughout history.
- The earliest use of candles is often attributed to 3,000 B.C. Egypt, where the Egyptians made rush-lights or torches by soaking the pithy core of reeds in melted animal fat.
- Wicked & dipped candles were made by the ancient Romans beginning about 500 BCE. There is evidence that they would dip the rolled papyrus repeatedly in melted tallow or beeswax to make candles for every-day use.
- Evidence for Chinese candles molded in paper tubes, using rolled rice paper for the wick & wax made from whale fat, dates back to the Qin Dynasty (221–206 BCE). They also made wax from an indigenous insect that was combined with seeds.
- In our India, wax from boiling the fruit of the cinnamon tree was used for temple candles. However, those lights had no wick in the real sense like a candle we know today.
- In all these instances, candles were used to either light their homes, or on streets to aid travelers at night, and even during religious ceremonies.
Uses, Importance & Symbolism of Candles:
Candles have been an integral part of lives from the ancient to modern times. With evolution in technology and birth of electricity, they may not be as existentially important as they were before, however, their popularity has skyrocketed in modern society. Be it from candles on a birthday cake, to a romantic candle-lit dinner setting, you won’t find a home where a candle ha not been put to use.
- Romance: In our everyday lives, candles are the most preferable incitation to develop a romantic atmosphere. The wonderfully faint light cast over a room by the candle, and the natural flickering of the flame ignites a most romantic effect that people find sensual & comforting. Not ignoring the olfactory character of an aromatic candle, the soft scents act as aphrodisiacs. If you’re looking to impress your lady or your man, be sure to include a scented candle in your next dinner date!
- Mental Health: Unwinding after a day of life is crucial to a peaceful and happy existence. Take one day at a time and always be kind to yourself. This involves a relaxing bath with an aromatic candle to soothe your nerves. Our minds are very powerful and can take a lot, however every machine needs maintenance and so do your mind & body. If you are a spa enthusiast, you are not a stranger to a little candle burning around your table with its aroma adding essence to the treatment.
- Meditation: Another way people attain mental relaxation is through meditation or through spiritual enlightenment. A good scent & the presence of the divine flame helps you achieve inner peace by allowing you the tranquility to concentrate on your breathing. You are most relaxed when you are surrounded by the elements of nature and a nature scented candle flame gives you that experience in the comfort of your own home. Add a scented candle to your next session and experience the change for yourself!
- Hope & belief: Candles indeed are a burning example of ongoing hope and faith. During a disturbance in society, a candle becomes the eternal sign of support and hope that things will get better. It is the silver lining on the dark cloud. When something is awry, we often light candles at a vigil to pray or to reestablish hope that justice is on its way, keep faith. We can even take inspiration from literature where Shakespeare often used the throws of a candle to symbolize guidance. The lighting of a candle is symbolic of finding your path when the world seems to be shrouded in darkness.
- Unity: We may speak different languages but we are all bound by symbolism. The symbolism of candles needs no language. It is not bound by ethnicity, religion or culture. When you light candles, the world becomes that much brighter for all.
- Celebrations & Gifting: Aromatic candles make the perfect gift for all occasions. Corporate gifting, Christmas gifting, birthday/anniversary gifting and much more! When in doubt, gift a candle. You can never go wrong in your celebratory decorations with candles around your home. A Christmas is incomplete without candles burning around the house, wouldn’t you agree Santa? Home is where the heart is and a candle is the best gift for your friend moving into their new home. If you wish to gift an experience and are looking for an affordable option, a candle is the best thing you can gift your loved one. A candle is a holistic experience of peace, love, romance, spirit & rush all at home!
Some statistics on usage of candles:
- In 2020, Candles were the world's 595th most traded product, with a total trade of $3.38B. Between 2019 and 2020 the exports of Candles grew by 5.02%, from $3.22B to $3.38B. Trade in Candles represent 0.02% of total world trade. (Source: OEC)
- The global scented candles’ market size was valued at USD 533.5 million in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.3% from 2021 to 2028. (Source: NCA)
- S. retail sales of candle products are estimated at approximately $3.14 billion annually. (Source: Mintel, 2013).
- In 2018, citizens in the European Union used an average of 1.44 kilograms of candles per head
- A rising trend in India, scented candles are not perceived as a luxury anymore. There has been a sizeable rise in demand for home fragrance products in India, and it is estimated that the home fragrance products account for almost 40% of the overall fragrance industry.
Paraffin wax vs Soy wax vs Beeswax
The center of all evil in the world of candles. Even though the most commercially used wax till date, paraffin wax is the “dirtiest” among all.
It may be the cheapest & hence the most industrially viable wax, however, it is the most hazardous of all waxes. As it comes from the sludge at the bottom of a crude oil barrel, it can burn soot and chemicals into the air. One redeeming factor of paraffin wax candles is that they have the best scent throw and hence, preferred by factories as it cuts down their essential oil costs.
Even though cheap, the soot from these notorious paraffin wax candles can be difficult to clean when it stains ceilings, walls, drapery, and furniture. These candles slowly poison your home so we would advice against buying paraffin wax candles. The negative effects on health & environment far outweigh their affordability factor.
A new type of wax widely popular among the more eco-conscious generation these days. Soy wax actually came into being in the 90’s and it is derived from hydrogenated soybean oil. Owing to its organic soybean roots, soy wax is a more sustainable resource (as compared to paraffin wax) and a better option for people who are trying to live a green, environmentally friendly lifestyle.
If you’re looking for a cleaner and slower burn with a more subtle scent throw, than its paraffin counterpart, you must start using soy wax candles. You also enjoy a much longer burn than the paraffin wax candle. It is inarguably a more non-toxic wax.
Saanjh says: One thing you must be careful while buying a soy wax candle is that many candle makers & big companies these days like to use blends of waxes to make their candles and call it a soy wax candle if the soy wax constitutes for 51% of the blend. For instance, they blend 51% soy wax with either beeswax, even vegetable oils such as coconut. Please make sure you read the contents carefully before buying a soy wax candle.
That is why Saanjh candles are handmade with only 100% pure soy wax to ensure the highest quality possible. With the help of local candle makers & only the best raw materials, Saanjh brings candles in never seen before scents & containers in just a few clicks. Since, our production is on a small scale, we have complete control over the kind of waxes used & the methods involved in the same. We make with a minimal carbon footprint.
Beeswax is the oldest known type of wax in existence. the ancient Romans came up with using beeswax to create candles. They have also been found in the pyramids of ancient Egypt!
Beeswax is undoubtedly the cleanest wax available today. It comes from an all-organic, non-toxic substance secreted by bees. Beekeepers harvest it in a way that preserves the bees’ habitat in their box as well as without harming the bees.
Beeswax is a step above in the clean burn department compared to soy wax. There is no soot produced when a beeswax candle is burned and hence it completely non-toxic. It leaves no chemicals or smoke in the air and is most healthy to have one around the house. In fact, beeswax is believed to neutralize the pollutants already existing in the air.
Due to its natural source and subsequent limited availability beeswax is the most expensive type of wax. It falls under the luxury category of home décor. However, they are most recommendable for people with allergies and lung abnormalities such as asthma.
At Saanjh, we are preparing to mix beeswax and soy wax to create a blend that stays true to the organic and clean burn desires while cutting costs on beeswax to make them affordable to all.
Since this wax comes from honeycomb, it still smells like honey and when a scent is added to the mix, it greatly alters the scent one might be expecting. Hence, we recommend using unscented beeswax candles as they have an inherent sweet scent or buying very low scented ones for relaxation. They are surely the future of eco-friendly candle making.
We hope this post will have helped you gain a better understanding and deeper connection to candles and will help you make a more informed choice when you buy your next candle! Happy candling!
Are your nostrils tingling too for the aroma of a scented candle?