Let’s be honest, we all can’t get enough of candles. But where did they come from in the first place?
Candles have been around for thousands of years, and unlike the guilty pleasures they are today, candles were a necessity for light until the late 1800s. Despite the importance of candles, there are actually few specifics known about their origin.
Ancient Egyptians used wicked candles as early as 3,000 B.C. But while there is also some evidence that points to even earlier, more primitive candles in Asia, it is the early Romans who are usually credited with creating the first wicked candles by dipping rolled papyrus in melted fat and beeswax. Very different than our Mason jar candles!
Beeswax was introduced to Europe in the Middle Ages. These candles burned cleaner, and smelled much better than the animal fat (tallow) candles they used before. However, because they were expensive, tallow remained the household resource for candles. It was during this time that there was a rising trend in candle makers and small candle shops!
America’s first candle makers were colonial women who made sweetly scented wax with bayberries. Then in the late 18th century, the first “standard candle” that burned brighter than any candle before it was invented using spermaceti wax, which is the wax formed from sperm whale oil.
It was in the 19th century that candles were truly revolutionized. Stearin wax was invented by a French chemist and is still popular in Europe today, an inventor developed a candle mold machine that was a breakthrough for the modern-day candle industry, and the creation of paraffin wax (that is still used today) made for higher quality, cheaper candles. However, it was also at this time that candle making began to decline with the invention of the light bulb.
It wasn’t until the 1980s that candles exploded in popularity once again as decorative pieces and gifts. Candles were suddenly available in all sizes, shapes, colors, and even scents. Then in the late 1990s, our favorite soybean wax was invented by none other than a group of Purdue students! This cleaner, natural wax that we use for our own candles was first created just a few miles away from the studio, how cool is that?
Candles have completely changed since those early years, but they are still loved nonetheless! Whether they are used for ceremonies, celebrations, ambiance, aromatherapy, or just as decorative pieces to enjoy in your home, the tradition surrounding candles lives on today.
This is the history of the candle we know and love, but what about the history of the candle company you know and love? Check out the Story Behind Antique Candle Works retold by the owner herself, Brittany!
Have a beautiful day friends, and enjoy those candles!