Limelight Candles

Celebrate Life.... Light a Candles...

Paraffin Candles, Wooden and Glass Gift Sets, Potpourries,
Room Sprays, Perfume and Designer Candles,
Reed Diffuser, Ceramic and Stone Oil Lamps,

About Candles

A candle is a solid block of fuel (commonly wax) and an embedded wick, which is lit to provide light, and sometimes heat.

Today, most candles are made from paraffin. Candles can also be made from beeswax, soy, other plant waxes, and tallow (a by-product of beef-fat rendering). Gel candles are made from a mixture of paraffin and plastic.

A candle manufacturer is traditionally known as a chandler. Various devices have been invented to hold candles, from simple tabletop candle holders, to elaborate chandeliers.

As the mass of solid fuel is melted and consumed, the candle grows shorter. Portions of the wick that are not emitting vaporized fuel are consumed in the flame. The incineration of the wick limits the exposed length of the wick, thus maintaining a constant burning temperature and rate of fuel consumption. Some wicks require regular trimming with scissors (or a specialized wick trimmer), usually to about one-quarter inch (~0.7 cm), to promote slower, steady burning, and also to prevent smoking. In early times, the wick needed to be trimmed quite frequently, and special candle-scissors, referred to as "snuffers" until the 20th century, were produced for this purpose, often combined with an extinguisher. In modern candles, the wick is constructed so that it curves over as it burns (see picture on the right), so that the end of the wick protrudes into the hot zone of the flame and is then consumed by fire—a self-trimming wick.

History

The earliest known candles originated in China around 200 BC, and were made from whale fat. Candles did not appear in Europe until sometime after 400 AD, due largely to the availability of olive oil for burning in lamps. The early European candle was made from various forms of natural fat, tallow, and wax. In the 18th century, spermaceti, oil produced by the sperm whale, was used to produce a superior candle. Late in the 18th century, colza oil and rapeseed oil came into use as much cheaper substitutes. Paraffin was first distilled in 1830, and revolutionized candle-making, as it was an inexpensive material which produced a high-quality, odorless candle that burned reasonably cleanly. The industry was devastated soon after, however, by the distillation of kerosene (confusingly also called paraffin oil or just paraffin). Recently resin based candles that are freestanding and transparent have been developed, with the claim that they burn longer than traditional paraffin candles. They are usually scented and oil based.

 

Hazards

According to the U.S. National Fire Protection Association, candles are one of the leading sources of residential fires in the U.S. with almost 10% of civilian injuries and 6% of civilian fatalities from fire attributed to candles.

A candle flame that is longer than its laminar smoke point will emit soot. Soot inhalation has known health hazards. Proper wick trimming will prevent soot emissions from most candles.

The liquid wax is hot and can cause skin burns, but the amount and temperature are generally rather limited and the burns are seldom serious. The best way to avoid getting burned from splashed wax is to use a candle snuffer instead of blowing on the flame. A candle snuffer is usually a small metal cup on the end of a long handle. When placed over the flame the oxygen supply is cut off. They were used daily when the candle was the main source of lighting a home, before electric lights were available.

Glass candle holders are sometimes cracked by thermal shock from the candle flame, particularly when the candle burns down to the end. When burning candles in glass holders or jars, users should avoid lighting candles with chipped or cracked containers, and stop use once 1/2 inch or less of wax remains.

A former worry regarding the safety of candles was that a lead core was used in the wicks to keep them upright in container candles. Without a stiff core, the wicks of a container candle could sag and drown in the deep wax pool. Concerns rose that the lead in these wicks would vaporize during the burning process, releasing lead vapors — a known health and developmental hazard. Lead core wicks have not been common since the 1970s. Today, most metal-cored wicks use zinc or a zinc alloy, which has become the industry standard. Wicks made from specially treated paper and cotton are also available.