The Evolution Of Candles

The Evolution Of Candles

The History Of Candles: When It All Started?

The word ‘candle’ has been in use in history unrecorded but has seen its uses as a source of light in recorded history, as early as the 5th century BC. Here are a few facts on the history of candles and how they have transitioned from being an essential source of light to their uses today:

History of Candles

The word ‘candle’ comes from an old English word ‘Candel’, which in turn comes from ‘Candere', which means white or glisten. Candles have been used as a light source as early as 500 BC, in their current form at least. These candles were made from a few different materials, depending on the quantity and price. Some of these materials included animal fat, beeswax, vegetable oil, and even polymers. Here is a simple breakdown of the various generations that candles have gone through:


• Pre-Medieval Times – In early times, the Egyptians used to use candles to make spells or magic. They were also recorded to be the first people to use candles to light their homes when oil lamps would be deemed to be too expensive.

• Early Roman Times – Romans would use papyrus rolls to make candles back in the olden days. Their primary purpose was for Easter celebrations and Christian rituals. The Chinese used rolled rice paper, the Indians used fruit from the cinnamon tree, and a few tribes in Alaska or Canada used oily fish as a candle.

• Middle Ages – During the Middle Ages, candles saw a massive increase in their use. They were a preeminent part of most religious ceremonies. This is also the time when candles were improved to be made from beeswax, which made them considerably less smelly as compared to primitive materials.

• Colonial Times – By as late as the 18th Century, candles were now being made from spermaceti or tallow, which burnt significantly brighter and did not have as much odour as compared to beeswax. Since there was significant development during this era, candles were essential because people had to work during the nighttime as well.

• 19th Century & onwards – Sterin wax was discovered by the 1820s, making candles durable and brighter. The production of candles was also mechanized, which made them cheaper. Candles then changed to becoming nothing more than decorations when electric bulbs were introduced. However, candles still have some uses today, albeit not as a source of light anymore.

Uses Of Candles Today

As we discussed, back in the good old days of yore, candles were the primary source of light. However, now that we have electric bulbs and fancy equipment that does not need to be refilled, we don't use candles this way anymore.

Nowadays, we see candles being used for various purposes like:
Aesthetic uses – restaurants, hostels, hotels, and various businesses where the appeal is the main focus.


Health benefits – numerous studies have shown the health and mental benefits of using candles in homes and offices.

Aromatherapy – special candles with scents are used by people for various purposes.



Telling time – The Song dynasty used to use candles as clocks. This is being used as a recreational activity even today. These candles are called advent wreaths.

We hope that this article has helped you understand the history of candles and how the transition from the uses of candles in early 3000 BC to now has happened. We predict that candles will not completely transition out of our life, but stay for various uses just like what they are used for today.

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