Although there is no historical record of the first candles used by man,
clay candle holders dating from 4,000 -3,000
B.C. have been found in Egypt
and a bronze
candleholder was found in (Tutankhamen's
tomb) so they have been credited as the first
ones to develop candles. However, the Ancient
Egyptians used rushlights
or torches, made by soaking the pithy
core of reeds in molten tallow. The
no wick like a candle. It is the Romans
who are credited with developing the wick candle, using it to aid travelers
at dark, and lighting homes and places of worship at night.
Most ancient candles were fueled by a variety of
natural substances. Like the early Egyptians,
the Romans relied
on tallow, gathered
from cattle or sheep suet, as the principal ingredient of candles.
used the wax from an insect. In India
the wax from cinnamon
was used, as the use of animal fat was outlawed. Early American
Indians used a candlefish,
by sticking it into a spear and lighting it and in Shetland,
wicks were jammed down the throat of a sea
bird and lit.
It was not until the Middle Ages when beeswax,
a substance secreted by honey bees to make their honeycombs, was introduced.
were a marked improvement over those made with tallow, for they did not
produce a smoky flame, or emit an acrid odor when burned. Instead, beeswax
burned pure and clean. However, they were expensive, and, therefore,
only the wealthy could afford them. In Medieval times, beeswax
was an accepted payment for a Church tithe. In the 1700's, a substance
from the head of the sperm whale called Spermaceti,
was used because it burned slowly. Up until the 15th century, all
candles were dipped. A French inventor created wooden molds
in this timeframe.