Sunday, July 10, 2011

My candle burns at both ends

It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends -
It gives a lovely light
.
Edna St. Vincent Millay, "A Few Figs from Thistles", 1920

Had one of those weeks where life was a little hectic, and it made me think of this phrase...but, then I did get in a wonderful new candle line in...Votivo...so let's talk about candles burning.

From my research on candles, Egyptians were using candles with wicks in 3,000 B.C., but the ancient Romans are generally credited with developing the wicked candle before that time by dipping rolled papyrus repeatedly in melted tallow or beeswax. The resulting candles were used to light their homes, to aid travelers at night, and in religious ceremonies. It is funny how so many things we take for granted were invented thousands of years ago.Historians have found evidence that many other early civilizations developed wicked candles using waxes made from plants and insects. Early Chinese candles were molded in paper tubes, using rolled rice paper for the wick, and wax from an indigenous insect that was combined with seeds. In Japan, candles were made of wax extracted from tree nuts, while in India, candle wax was made by boiling the fruit of the cinnamon tree.

Candles played an important role in early religious ceremonies. Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights which centers on the lighting of candles, dates back to 165 B.C. There are several Biblical references to candles, and the Emperor Constantine is reported to have called for the use of candles during an Easter service in the 4th century. Most early Western cultures relied primarily on candles rendered from animal fat (tallow). A major improvement came in the Middle Ages, when beeswax candles were introduced in Europe. Unlike animal-based tallow, beeswax burned pure and cleanly, without producing a smoky flame. It also emitted a pleasant sweet smell rather than the foul, acrid odor of tallow. Beeswax candles were widely used for church ceremonies, but because they were expensive, few individuals other than the wealthy could afford to burn them in the home. Colonial women offered America's first contribution to candlemaking, when they discovered that boiling the berries of bayberry bushes produced a sweet-smelling wax that burned cleanly. However, extracting the wax from the bayberries was extremely tedious. As a result, the popularity of bayberry candles soon diminished.

The growth of the whaling industry in the late 18th century brought the first major change in candlemaking since the Middle Ages, when spermaceti -- a wax obtained by crystallizing sperm whale oil -- became available in quantity. Like beeswax, the spermaceti wax did not elicit a repugnant odor when burned, and produced a significantly brighter light. It also was harder than either tallow or beeswax, so it wouldn't soften or bend in the summer heat. Historians note that the first "standard candles" were made from spermaceti wax.

Numerous manufacturing improvements were made over the decades, and the 1990s witnessed an unprecedented surge in the popularity of candles, and for the first time in more than a century, new types of candle waxes were being developed. In the U.S., agricultural chemists began to develop soybean wax, a softer and slower burning wax than paraffin. On the other side of the globe, efforts were underway to develop palm wax for use in candles.

There are many independent candle makers in the US now, but I have always carried Greenleaf, and now I have their upscale sister, Votivo. They are made in South Carolina.
From their press, they note that since its inception in 1994, "Votivo has built a reputation for its quality fragrances and distinctive packaging. At the heart of every Votivo candle is a unique fragrance meticulously formulated and layered to reflect depth, richness, and complexity. As one of the very first domestically made luxury candle lines, Votivo passionately pursues excellence in the art of candle making."

I have concentrated on their travel tins since we are a tourist area, but I like these tins because you can easily extinguish by popping the lid on the candle.The scents are amazing. One I was skeptical about because of its name...Bright Leaf Tobacco...but here is their description..."centered around cured tobacco leaves and rooted with Tonka, Vanilla and Patchouli notes that add strength to the familiarity of an Amber and Lavender top for a unique twist on an American Classic." It turned out to be an appealing scent.

Their best seller is Red Currant...the description is as yummy as the candle...A savory blend of tart red currants and golden fruit glaze ladled over coarsely ground vanilla bean ice cream and served along side of raspberry filled sugar cookies.I have also brought in a couple of the fragrance mist flavors also. They also have a wonderful lasting scent.

I still have Greenleaf...and they have new scents also...

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

So, hopefully, my new line can give you some pleasantly scented happiness!

1 comment:

Zenifer Dsouza said...

Lovely blog on Seasonal candles
Keep up the good work.
Thanks for sharing.
Good job
Keep sharing more and more.