Whether a birthday party, romantic meal or trick or treat night, candles usually find their way into all sorts of special events. But did you know that prior to the 1980s, the primary use for candles was still illumination? What started as a mound of molded animal fat, has transformed over the past 5,000 years to become the most common decorative item in a home. Here three things you probably didn’t know about your favorite flamed adornment.
1 – Candles have been illuminating celebrations for more than 5,000 years
It is known that the Egyptians began using candles somewhere around 3,000 B.C. because of artifacts found in the pyramids. Historians have also found evidence that other early civilizations, including the Chinese and Japanese, created candles around that same time. It is believed that these civilizations used candles to celebrate early religious ceremonies, to guide travelers and light their homes.
2 – Candles used to be made of animal fat
The Ancient Romans, who are often credited for inventing the wicked candle, used primitive candle making equipment to melt animal fat into papyrus paper to form candles. It wasn’t until the Middle Ages, that people began using beeswax to create candles. The beeswax burned cleaner and had no odor, so it quickly became the preferred candle material, although remained expensive until the 19th century.
3 – Candle making was revolutionized in the 19th century
The candle we think of now when the word is said didn’t come to creation until the 19th century. In the 1820s, a French chemist discovered the chemical stearin, which led to the creation of stearin candles which are still popular today. Then in 1834, Joseph Morgan developed candle making machinery that allowed for the continuous creation of molded candles. This tool allowed candles to be quickly produced at an affordable price. In the mid-1980s, interest for the candles again increased and candle makers because creating new types of candles including soy, aromatherapy, and various shapes and sizes.
Today’s candles have come a long way since their original inception. Whether used for relaxation, celebration or illumination, candles continue to play an important role in our lives.