Candles were invented by man a long time ago, but for a long time they were used only in the homes of rich people and were expensive. The prototype of a candle is a bowl filled with oil or fat, with a sliver as a wick (later they began to use wicks made of fiber or fabric). These lamps gave off an unpleasant odor and smoked a lot. The first candles of modern design appeared in the Middle Ages and were made from fat (most often) or from wax. Wax candles have been very expensive for a long time. To illuminate a large room, hundreds of candles were required, they smoked, blackening the ceilings and walls.
Until the 15th century, candles were made by keeping an absorbent material - papyrus, paper, the porous core of some plants - in a melt of fat before saturating it. In the 15th century, the cylindrical shape for casting candles was invented, while the popularity of beeswax as a combustible material for candles slowly began to grow. In the 16th-17th centuries, American colonists invented the production of wax from some local plants, and candles produced in this way temporarily gained great popularity - they did not smoke, did not melt as much as greasy, but their production was laborious and popularity soon faded away.
The development of the whaling industry at the end of the 18th century brought about the first significant changes in the candle making process because spermaceti (a wax-like fat obtained from the top of the sperm whale's head) became readily available. Spermaceti burned better than fat and did not smoke, and in general was closer to beeswax in properties and benefits.
Most of the inventions that influenced the candle business date back to the 19th century. In 1820, the French chemist Michel Chevrolet discovered the possibility of isolating a mixture of fatty acids from animal fats - the so-called. stearin. Stearin, otherwise sometimes called stearic wax due to its properties similar to wax, turned out to be hard, tough and burned without soot and almost odorless, and its production technology was not expensive. And as a result, soon stearic candles almost completely replaced all other types of candles, mass production was established. Around the same time, the technology of impregnating candle wicks with boric acid was mastered, which eliminated the need to often remove the remnants of the wick (if they were not removed, they could extinguish the candle).
Towards the beginning of the 20th century, chemists were able to isolate petroleum wax - paraffin. Paraffin burned cleanly and evenly, almost odorless (only the smoke from extinguishing a candle had a strong smell, but this smell was not very unpleasant), and it was cheaper to produce than any other combustible substance for candles known at that time. Its only drawback was its low melting point (compared to stearin), which made the candles tend to float before they burn out, but this problem was solved after the harder and more refractory stearin was added to the paraffin. Even with the introduction of electric lighting for quite a long time at the beginning of the 20th century, paraffin candles only gained popularity, this was facilitated by the rapid development of the oil industry at that time. Over time, their importance in lighting was replaced by decorative and aesthetic ones.
To date, paraffin candles are almost the only type among candles. Candles are made from a mixture of highly purified (snow-white or slightly transparent) paraffin with a small amount of stearin, or from low-purified (yellow) paraffin, with or without added stearin. The former are more aesthetic and less odorous, the latter do not swell so much. Occasionally, candles are made from unrefined paraffin (red-yellow) without additives that float very strongly, and therefore are not in demand.
Do you know such interesting facts about candles:
The expression "the game is not worth the candle" came from the speech of gamblers who spoke so about a very small win that does not pay off the cost of candles burned out during the game.
The Cathedral of the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela offered parishioners a new service - lighting virtual candles installed on special electronic panels. The service costs 1.4 Euro.
The candle fish found in the Pacific Ocean got its name from its exceptionally high fat content. The Indians of North America, in addition to eating this fish, dried it, put a wick through it and burned it like an ordinary candle.
Candlemaker research shows that 96% of all candles are bought by women. Two-thirds of candlestick buyers say they use candles once a week or more. Women are more frequent users than men, and young people tend to use candles more often than older people.
In the Kingdom of Bahrain, the largest candle in the world was lit in honor of the Shiite festival of ashura. The length of a horizontally laid candle weighing three tons was 73 meters, there were 14 thousand wicks on it, set on fire by those present. Among them was a commission from the Guinness Book of World Records.