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The History of Candles and Their Uses
  • By An So-yeon, cub-reporter
  • 승인 2021.05.24 08:43
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People use candles for a variety of reasons. They are mainly used to perfume a room, but sometimes they are used as decorative items due to the gorgeous design of the candles. Candles have become popular and easy to get anywhere. Along with that, the variety and designs available has increased. To use candles effectively, it’s important to know more about them.

The word “candle” is derived from the Latin word ‘candere’, meaning "bright and shining", and the word chandelier is derived from ‘candere’ too. The first candles date from the 3rd to 4th centuries BC and were made from animal fat. Later, beeswax from beehives was commonly used to make candles. Candles were used by ancient peoples in Egypt, Greece, Rome, and China. Until the early 1900s, candles were used only for lighting, and religious and traditional ceremonies.

Since the 18th century, as technology has advanced candle production has become possible through mass production instead of the slower hand-made process. Also, the function of the wick and fuel efficiency has improved. The first candle used in Korea was in 108 B.C. during the ‘Nakrang’ period. Evidence of the use of candles can be found from the remains, relics, and candlesticks found in the excavation of the tombs, thereby inferring the form and materials used to make the candles. The use of candles declined with the invention of the light bulb, but the functional effects of candles have since been re-illuminated and candles have adapted again.

There are many kinds of candles. The ‘container candle’ is the most basic candle. All candles in containers are called container candles. Container candles are safe because wax does not flow outside of the container. Candles made in bottles with lids can store scents longer, and prevent dust from accumulating and oxidation. ‘Tea light candles’ are mini-sized container candles. These candles are made by pouring wax into small aluminum, glass, and plastic containers, and are named after their tea warmer use. They can be used for various purposes such as being placed in candle holders and aroma lamps. Next are ‘pillar candles’. These candles can stand upright on their own without support. They can be manufactured in various forms using molds. However, since they don’t use a container, if a container or holder is not used, wax will flow out of the candle creating a fire hazard. Another type of candle is the ‘votive candle’. This candle is used for religious ceremonies. The word "votive" means "dedicated to God". Traditionally, it is shaped like a small cylinder with a height of around 5cm. In order to prevent wax from dripping down, they are placed in containers exclusively used for votive candles. ‘Taper candles’ are long, narrow, stick candles that have been made since ancient times. They can be made in a mold or by using a dipping technique. ‘Floating candles’ are made with a wide surface and a narrow bottom to float on water. They are often used as decoration at cafes and parties. Gel candles are made of gel wax. The gel wax candles can look like fountains or fish bowls. Lastly, ‘wax tablet candles’ are made by adding fragrance to the wax and solidifying it. Like solid air freshener, they are mainly used as a freshener for closets and vehicles.

Candles used to give off fragrance are generally used by lighting the wick. However, "candle warmers" can be used to prevent fire hazards. Candle warmers melt the candle with the heat of a light bulb and release the scent of the candle. Not only is there no risk of fire, but it is also better for health because it does not produce carbon dioxide generated by burning candles. Candle warmers release less fragrance than lit candles, and they are hot during or right after use. The invention of candle warmers proves that candles have become a part of everyday life.

Candles have changed in many ways. Candles are beneficial to humans for many reasons, from lighting, to decoration, and religious practices. Candles that pose a fire risk should always be used with safety in mind. Candles will continue to be used and change in various ways as people continue to use them.

By An So-yeon, cub-reporter  1102soy@naver.com

<저작권자 © The Campus Journal, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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