Chandlery: A History

Candles have been around almost as long as light itself.  Extracting a wax called tallow from farm animal lard, the early Egyptians molded the first candles thousands of years ago.  Due to the wax’s origin, however, the flickering flame left an unimaginably unpleasant odor--shocker. This made the candle’s primary purpose lighting dark spaces rather than emanating fresh scents.   

The Romans would modify their material to beeswax, which burned without any odor.  Problem solved! But not so fast. Beeswax sold for an expensive price, leaving the cleaner, better-smelling candles available only for those who had cash to spend.  Ordinary folks were left to enjoy the ever-coveted “mystery meat of the month” scent when the sun’s rays were no longer visible. 

Tallow and beeswax endured through the Medieval and Dark Ages until the Industrial Revolution of the 17th Century, when a new wax was discovered through a booming whale industry.  Chandlers found spermaceti wax, obtained from crystallized sperm whale oil, a formidable ingredient.  No smell, available in mass, and easy to produce for commercial use. 

Not long after, Thomas Edison and his curious intellect put tungsten and filament around a glass bowl, inventing a new light source medium.  By the late 19th century, the practical evening candle rendered obsolete.  Production slowed, but human creativity did not. 

Oriental tradition taught us the benefit of doctoring the natural world into herbal remedies.  Combining religious and philosophical theories, far easterners sought elements found in the garden or forest to bring inward chemical and cognitive balance.  Modern science validates the assumption, as ingredients used in common essential oils such as peppermint, lavender, and sandalwood stimulate the brain to help digestion, alleviate stress, and relax the body.   

In the early 1900’s, a French chemist named Rene Maurice Gattefosse experienced the effects of natural remedy first-hand.  One day while working in his laboratory, he accidentally burned his hand. Immediately, he dipped his burned skin into a vat of lavender, later discovering it brought about quick healing and reduced scarring.  The revelation led doctors to tend soldiers' wounds with similar plant-based oils during the First World War. Aromatherapy was born.

These “essential” oils, such as lavender, have always been present in the market.  From the lotion you lather to the afternoon tea you sip, plant extracts are a cornerstone of commercialization.  In the 80’s and 90’s, however, oils appeared prominently as alternatives to conventional medicine as we know it, giving credence to aromatherapy.  While direct application is still accessible, diffusing these healing oils in water vapor or melting them into a wax candle has stormed the market. 

As health awareness rose, the composition of candles evolved.  Whale wax gave way to paraffin, a wax proven to contain harmful carcinogens, which reasonably gave way to soy wax, a substance that burns cleanly and doesn’t pollute the air quality.

And out of this growth and change, Wild Roots Candle Co. was born. Our hope is to bring quality candles with aromatherapeutic benefits that bring people together and brighten up your room. 

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