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Candle making in colonial times
 

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The history of candle making can be traced back to the colonial times. It was not unusual for households to have a backlog of chores which would go on into the night. It was therefore necessary that a form of lighting be devised to make working into the night possible. As other forms of lighting like electricity were not there, candle light came in handy.

candle making during earlier times made use of natural wax got from animal fat. This was known as tallow. No complex candle making instructionswere made use. The whole art of candle making entailed heating the tallow until it melts and then dipping the wicks into it to come with taper candles. These candles were however problematic as they used to melt during the summers due to the intense heat. This made their storage a bit of a hustle. The taper candles also used to be softer than present day tapers. These disadvantages were also augmented by the unpleasant smell that they used to produce when burning coupled with the residues. They also used to produce small light and would not last long.

These candles however came at low prices, as the constituent materials were readily available. Candle making improved with the advent of wax candles which was an exact opposite of tallow candles. They were of a better quality and burnt for long, had a better scent and burnt very clean. However, it came at a more expensive price thus only the rich could afford it. Colonial people therefore went looking for a less costly substitute. They settled to using bayberries for candle making. These materials incorporated abundance and produced nice fragrance when burnt. The wax was also hard, long lasting and did not drip or run. This therefore meant that the wax did not melt during summers. However, candle making using bayberries was time consuming and used the materials in large amounts. It was therefore impractical to spend so much time and material on candle making.

Spermaceti wax and whale oil saved the situation as it was hard, long lasting and did not melt during summers. Wooden moulds were incorporated in candle making in which the molten wax would be poured. The moulds coupled with the hardness of the wax produced uniform candles unlike the candles in the previous times. Spermaceti could also be added to tallow to make harder candles. This meant that candles could be made at any time of the year having in mind that they were now harder and took less time to make. It is therefore important to acknowledge the tremendous input of the colonial candle makers in the art, though it has become a luxury and not a necessity in the recent times.


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