Candles, a simple lighting device in form, date back thousands of years. In fact, some say they were invented by the Romans or Egyptians as early as 3000 B.C. The concept of a wick coated with fuel remained through the years, however improvements in the wick material as well as fuels used to coat the wick slowly progressed to achieve a proper burning candle as we know it today.
The earliest candles used wicks of reed dipped into Tallow (animal fat) that produced dim light and were very smokey. Progress was made in the Middle Ages when Beeswax (from the honey bee) and improvements of fibers for the wick came into use. This produced a better light and burned clean. The next improvements happened around the turn of the 19th century with the use of braided cotton wicks and spermaceti wax made from Whale Oil. Then again in the mid 1800’s when paraffin was distilled from crude oil and used.
The method for making candles for thousands of years was dipping the wick multiple times into a vat of melted Tallow or Beeswax until a uniform build-up of the fuel on the wick was achieved. Wooden frames that held multiple wicks would be used to produce the candles in quantity. In the 1800’s production improvements came with the invention of tin molds where the fuel could be poured into and hardened to produce candles as well as several designs for automated mold making machines.
The Candle Holder also progressed in both form and function. Earliest known types are of a spike called a pricket that held the candle in place. These were replaced by the socket type holder of which there are many shapes and styles. They were also made in a variety of materials as shown below.