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Candle-making Part 2: History of candle-making

Older ingredients

The history of candle-making goes back thousands of years.

History of candle-making
Hand-made candles

Our forefathers (yours and mine) used any sort of fat or wax they could get their hands on to make candles. This was usually tallow or other animal fats, or beeswax.

By 1800, people discovered that colza oil, derived from the mustard plant (Brassica campestris), and a similar oil derived from rapeseed, (Brassica napus var. napus), yielded candles that produced clear, smokeless flames.

More recently in the history of candle-making, people used paraffin wax for candles. This is a soft colorless solid derived from petroleum, coal or oil shale. By the end of the 19th century, most candle-manufacturers used paraffin mixed with stearic acid to add hardness.

Newer ingredients

During the 1990s, scientists developed new types of candle waxes, partly due to rising costs. Manufacturers replaced paraffin with new waxes and wax blends. Candle-makers used ingredients such as soy wax, coconut wax and palm oil. They often blended them with paraffin in hopes of getting the performance of paraffin with the price benefits of the other waxes. Palm oil, however, wreaks havoc on the environment and the habitat of endangered wildlife species.

Coconut wax, obtained by a simple extraction process, burns slowly and it is good at giving off scent. It’s probably the most sustainable and ethical of all commonly available candle waxes. but it’s quite soft. Blending it with soy wax helps make it firmer. It is not easy to source soy wax that is verifiably 100% non-GMO and sustainably farmed, and we cannot guarantee that this is the case, but we have done the best we can.

At Mill Cottage, the home of Craftsteading, we strive to provide products and services that are ethical, organic, cruelty-free and sustainable. This is why we offer SOY WAX and COCONUT WAX as bases for candle-making. They’re available at our online store.


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