PartyLite builds the same quality into candles as diverse as a tiny tealight or an eight-pound Three-Wick, from an elegant dinner candle with no fragrance at all to a spicy wax-filled container that can perfume a whole room.
When fire was first discovered, human beings enjoyed using its light and heat for many purposes. But a log fire used lots of fuel, it required a large space, and it couldn't be carried easily from place to place. What was needed was a way to keep the light of a flame in a small space, and to slow down the burning so the light would last longer. Sounds like a candle, doesn't it?
It took some time for us humans to figure out just how to do that. Archaeologists agree that Egyptians knew how to make candles, because they found candlestick holders dating from as early as 1600 B.C.
The oldest bit of a real candle, from the first century A.D., was found in France near the town of Avignon. The writer, Pliny the Younger, mentioned lights made from burning tallow. Other writers talked about rushlights made from reeds peeled on one side, and dipped in melted fat or wax.
The Romans made candles with wicks and wax similar to the candles we have today. For wicks, they used a roll of papyrus treated to slow down the burning. They cleaned tallow or beeswax with seawater, and then bleached it in the sun. Repeated dipping of the wick in the melted tallow or wax built up the body of the candle, just as we build up our hand-dipped candles today.
Candles became very important for religious observances in Christian churches. The first Christian emperor, Constantine, used candles in the Easter service during the fourth century. There was a special day set aside to bless candles and distribute them among the faithful — Candlemas, February 2. Many churches still observe this practice on that day.
Tallow (the fat from animals) and beeswax continued to be commonly used when people made their own candles at home. But soon the making of candles became a craft. In the thirteenth century, in both England and France, there were groups of candle makers organized into guilds. The Tallow Chandlers went from house to house making candles from the grease and fat the housewife saved for that purpose. The Wax Chandlers made and sold their candles in their own shops.
These early candles provided light when the sun went down, but they were nothing like the lovely candles we expect when we place an order with PartyLite. Tallow would become rancid - it's animal fat, after all. In warm weather, the candles would bend and melt. When you burned a candle, you had to expect a certain amount of smoke and odor. No wonder the candle makers (and the housewives) kept looking for a better way to make candles.
In the 19th century, a French chemist, Michel-Eugene Chevreul, figured out how to separate the components of glycerin to produce stearic acid, which made fine candles. A little earlier, whalers had discovered spermaceti, a waxy substance in whales, which also made a better candle. Other chemists were able to separate paraffin wax from petroleum, and soon, stearic acid and paraffin became the basic candle stock.
Wicks got better, too. The Roman paper wicks were changed into fine braided cotton wicks. Good wax and dependable wicks made candles that burned clean and virtually smokeless. Candles were ready for the next steps toward the rich variety and beautiful colors and fragrances we now enjoy.
The next step was the development of molding machines that could produce large numbers of candles at prices people could afford. Computers came next, bringing the ability to precisely measure each bit of color and fragrance for each batch of candles.
When it became possible to monitor the quality of the candle and to predict the length and speed of the burning, candle design branched out into all the types available today. A housewife from old England would be amazed at our candles that burn with sweet scents. The candle you buy from PartyLite is the finest candle possible after a long and proud history.