Since an ancient period illumining objects have accompanied mankind. Initially it was fire and then came the invention of its utilization in diversified forms. The beginning of the evolutionary process of the candle might be considered to be the moment when humans learnt to use fire for their benefits. Candle is considered to be the most ancient and beneficial form of illumination. These candles are usually built in cylindrical shape or similar to cylindrical body of a waxy substance along with a fibrous wick since early ages. The quality of the candle usually depends on the combustible material and the nature of the wick. These two substances with their respective ratio and their building structure play a vital role in accomplishing the required quality of the material.
Candle is nothing but the evolutionary development of the torch. It is an original torch made of a burning branch “wick” which is extremely large and contains little combustible matter. Until the early 1900s candles were the only single source of artificial light. Though the origin of candle is still an unknown factor yet the archeological findings have found candleholders in Egypt that dates back to 4th century BCE. According to some references Egyptians candles were made of chunk of tallow with one end made pointy for ignition. These tallow were extracted from cattle and sheep in the early Egyptian and Roman times. Candles made of these tallows burned scantily and also smelled worse. Candles made during the Roman Empire provide the evidence of those candles that resemble the candles of today. Romans melted the tallow until it gained liquid form and poured it over the fibers of flax or cotton, which later acted as the wick. These candles were used in man religious ceremonies those days.
During the Middle Ages beeswax was introduced to make candles. This beeswax candles was the improved version of candles made of tallow. These beeswax candles resembled the candles of tallow made by Romans. But as the availability of beeswax was limited, the candles made of beeswax got expensive and got obtainable only by the upper class society.
In later days early settlers of colonial America discovered that an appeasing wax could be obtained by boiling berries of bayberry shrub. Though the making of candles by bayberry wax was tedious and tiresome job yet it gave the satisfaction for such galling work when the candles made of bayberry wax created a sweet smell and good burning when lit.
In 18th century though the spermaceti wax derived from whale oil replaced the tallow, beeswax and bayberry wax still it could not sustain its market for a longer period, as it had an unpleasant smell and also it was too hard enough to hold its shape firmly during the hot summer season.
By 19th century candle making industry got a big breakthrough that enabled candles to reach the homes of all classes as the first patented candle making machines were introduced in this century. The braided wick was also introduced in this century and also the process of candle making drastically improved the quality of candles. It was around mid-nineteenth century paraffin wax was used for preparing candles in UK. Thus paraffin (oil distillate) led to commercial production as paraffin wax burned clean, bright and odorless. To harden paraffin wax, it was blend with stearic acid to create an excellent candle.
Today candle-making industry provides a wide range of candles made of variety of waxes with unique shapes and colors. These products are also manufactured in Bengaluru of Karnataka state, by an artisan named Ms.Saba Shaheen. She is a self-taught artist who is been into this field since two years. She has won first place at a competition held at New Orbit Mall on the occasion of Women’s day, which enabled her to publicize the sales of her inventive candles.