An Ancient Mood Enhancer
Candles have been used by humans to create light, warmth, and mood for at least five thousand years, from ancient Egyptian candles made from reeds soaked in tallow (animal fat), to Roman papyrus wick candles. In earlier times, Japanese and Chinese candles were made from wax derived from tree seeds and insects, while in India it was prohibited for religious reasons to make wax from animal sources, so they used wax made when boiling cinnamon. American pioneers used boiled bayberries to make wax. People in some other parts of the world created candles in various strange and sometimes disturbing ways.
In the Middle Ages in Europe, beeswax was used for creating candles that burned clean and pure with no smoke or unpleasant smell. By the eighteenth century in England, candles were taxed and so were bought from chandlers rather than being made at home. Spermaceti wax was also used, and by 1850 the first paraffin wax was made.
Candles were used in many customs. For example:
- Churches used beeswax candles as bees were believed to have been created in Paradise
- Puritan added gunpowder to Christmas candles to usher in each Christmas with a bang
- A candle was lit by the ancients at the time of one’s death to prevent evil spirits from being able to take the soul
- Thirteen candles are lit by a Jewish child at their Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah
- Birthday candles on a birthday cake
- Candlelight vigils
Why we Love Candles
Today we use candles for so many reasons – celebrating, relaxation, ambiance, romance, and spiritual purposes such as meditation. Statistically, seven of ten US household today use candles regularly – and it’s likely to be a similar statistic here in Australia.
- Candles create ambiance, and are the most effective way to improve the mood and feel of your home, especially when fragranced candles are used. Subtle and beautiful lighting is also created when you burn a candle, and soft light is calming to both body and mind.
- Aromatherapy is very popular as more people discover its effects. AS well as all the aforementioned benefits of using a candle, an aromatherapy candle uses oils extracted from flowers, precious woods, herbs, fruits and trees; inhaling the fragrance emitted can impact and even heal body, mind, and spirit.
The following fragrances have the following effects:
- Lavender is calming, soothes the nerves, and stimulates the immune system
- Cinnamon, clove and citrus are stimulating
- Chamomile is relaxing
- Patchouli and rosewood are aphrodisiac
- Spice, cinnamon, pine, berry and apple enhance a festive Christmas atmosphere
- Home decor is greatly enhanced by candles. An array of candles on a sideboard or table creates a focal point. Choose different but complementary colours, sizes, and fragrances.
- Candles have been used therapeutically for millennia. It unites the mind, body and spirit. The flame of a candle is seen as a metaphor for the soul, and a candle’s flame is both hypnotic and tranquil. Those who believe in pagan and other ancient practices will, for example, burn a green candle for growth and a new beginning; burn a yellow candle for a new life; light a red candle to set an intention to lose weight; or a white candle for purity.
Types of Modern Candles
The most common types of modern candles are:
- Soy wax – slow burning, clean, toxin-free and produces little soot
- Pure beeswax – clean and long-burning, is quite expensive and doesn’t blend as well with other fragrances due to honey aroma. Ideal in luxury Christmas candles
- Blended paraffin – very widely used, will survive hot weather conditions. Can cause reactions in sensitive people due to allergens emitted.
- Mineral oil/resin – clean, consistent burning. Great for container, pillar, and free standing candles. Carries scent well.
- Mineral oil – seen in decor accent candles for primarily decorative use. Not intended to be lit unless housed in a heat-resistant glass container.
Ways to use Candles
- Light a fragranced candle to eliminate odours and create a mood – uplifting, energetic, relaxing, meditative, romantic
- Relax with candlelight to reduce stress
- Use candles in the bathroom for luxurious bathing
- Add elegance to home interiors
- Accent a room with the right candle
- Use sensual fragranced candles for their aphrodisiac effects
Candles come in many shapes and sizes, from tiny votives to large cathedral candles. You can choose affordable candles from you local supplier, mid-range candles from vendors like Hive, or high end luxury candles from brands like Jo Malone or Tom Ford. Candles are found in many colours and fragrances, including aromatherapy candles which not only provide romance and warmth or cosiness to a room, but also work therapeutically.
ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF PINTEREST