You are currently viewing What are Scented Candles? The History of Scented Candles Until 2023

What are Scented Candles? The History of Scented Candles Until 2023

  • Post author:
  • Post last modified:October 8, 2023

Scented candles are the candles that the wax or the wick or surface of the candle mixes with the fragrances. In this blog, i want to show you the history of scented candles, from ancient times to present day.

Scented Candles

Ancient Times

The history of scented candles can be traced back to the ancient times, when people first discovered how to make and use candles. Candles are essentially a source of light and heat, created by burning a wick embedded in a solid fuel, usually wax. The earliest candles were made from natural materials, such as animal fat, plant oils, or beeswax. They were also infused with natural scents, such as herbs or spices, to mask the unpleasant odor of the burning fuel.

The ancient civilizations that used candles include ancient Egypt, Rome, and China. They made candles from beeswax, which obtained from the honeycombs of wild bees. They also added aromatic substances to candles, such as cinnamon, clove, or frankincense ,to create a pleasant and soothing fragrance. They used candles for religious ceremonies and rituals, as well as for illumination and decoration.

Middle Ages

The history of scented candles continues in the Middle Ages, when candles became more widely used in Europe due to the lack of olive oil for oil lamps. One of the main materials used for making candles in the Middle Ages was tallow, which is animal fat. Tallow was cheap and abundant, but it had many drawbacks. It produced a lot of smoke and soot, it had a foul smell, and it attracted insects and rodents. Tallow candles were also prone to melting and dripping, which made them messy and dangerous. A better alternative to tallow was beeswax, which was introduced in Europe around the 11th century. Beeswax candles were superior to tallow candles in many ways. They burned longer and brighter, they produced less smoke and soot, they had a pleasant honey-like smell, and they were more resistant to melting and dripping. Beeswax candles were also considered pure and sacred, which made them ideal for religious ceremonies and celebrations. However, beeswax candles were also very expensive and rare, as they depended on the availability and the quality of honeybees. Beeswax candles were mostly reserved for the wealthy and the clergy, while the common people had to settle for tallow candles or other alternatives, such as rushlights or torches.

Scented candles were not very common in the Middle Ages, as most people were more concerned with the practical function of candles than their aesthetic appeal. However, some people did add scents to their candles, either to mask the unpleasant odor of tallow or to create a more pleasant and festive atmosphere. Some of the scents that were used in the Middle Ages include bay leaves, laurel, rosemary, lavender, sage, thyme, or mint.

Colonial Period

The history of scented candles takes a new turn in the Colonial Period, when scented candles are believed to have been invented. This period covers the 16th to the 18th centuries.

One of the most famous examples of scented candles from this period is bayberry candles. Bayberry is a type of shrub that grows in North America, especially along the Atlantic coast. The colonists learned how to extract wax from the berries of the bayberry plant, which had a greenish color and a spicy fragrance. Bayberry candles were highly prized for their pleasant smell and their long-lasting burn. They were also considered lucky and auspicious, especially during the holidays.

Other examples of scented candles from this period include candelilla candles, carnauba candles, or palm candles. Candelilla is a type of plant that grows in Mexico and Texas. It produces a hard wax that has a yellowish color and a mild smell. Carnauba is a type of palm tree that grows in Brazil. It also produces a hard wax that has a brownish color and a faint smell. Palm is a type of tree that grows in various tropical regions. It produces a soft wax that has a whitish color and a neutral smell.

18th and 19th Centuries

The history of scented candles reaches a new level of development in the 18th and 19th centuries, when scented candles began to take the technological leap.

One of the most important additives that enabled the development of scented candles was essential oils from plants. Essential oils were natural substances that contained the essence and the aroma of various flowers, fruits, herbs, or spices. They were extracted by methods such as distillation, expression, or solvent extraction.

Essential oils were used to add scents to candles by mixing them with the wax or by applying them to the wick or the surface of the candle. They were also used to create different effects and benefits for the users, such as relaxation, stimulation, healing, or mood enhancement. Some examples of essential oils that were used for scented candles include lavender, rose, lemon, peppermint, eucalyptus, or cinnamon.

Another important additive that enabled the development of scented candles was synthetic fragrances from chemicals. Synthetic fragrances were artificial substances that mimicked or enhanced the smell of natural substances. They were created by methods such as synthesis, isolation, or modification. Synthetic fragrances were used to add scents to candles by mixing them with the wax or by applying them to the wick or the surface of the candle. They were also used to create more complex and diverse scents that could not be found in nature. Some examples of synthetic fragrances that were used for scented candles include vanilla, musk, ambergris, or aldehydes.

A third important additive that enabled the development of scented candles was soy wax from soybeans. Soy wax was a natural and renewable material that had many advantages over other waxes. It burned longer, cleaner, and cooler than other waxes. It also had a lower melting point, which made it easier to mix with other ingredients. Soy wax was used to make scented candles by adding essential oils or synthetic fragrances to it. It was also used to create more eco-friendly and vegan-friendly candles.

As you can see, scented candles became more sophisticated and diverse in this period, as they reflected the science and the art of candle making.

Present Day

The history of scented candles reaches the present day, when scented candles are now widely available and popular among consumers for their aesthetic and therapeutic benefits. Scented candles are no longer just a source of light and heat, but also a source of beauty and wellness. Scented candles can create different moods and atmospheres, depending on the fragrance and the theme of the candle. They can also provide different effects and benefits, such as relaxation, stimulation, healing, or mood enhancement.

Scented candles today come in various types and styles, such as jar candles, pillar candles, votive candles, tealight candles, etc. Each type and style of candle has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on the purpose and the preference of the user. For example, jar candles are convenient and safe to use, as they come in a glass or metal container that prevents the wax from spilling or dripping. However, jar candles are also heavy and bulky to carry or store. Pillar candles are elegant and versatile to use, as they can stand on their own without a holder or a container. However, pillar candles are also prone to melting and dripping, which can cause a mess or a fire hazard.

Scented candles today also come in various fragrances and themes, such as floral, fruity, spicy, woody, etc. Each fragrance and theme of candle has its own characteristics and associations, depending on the culture and the context of the user. For example, floral scents are usually associated with femininity, romance, or spring. Fruity scents are usually associated with freshness, sweetness, or summer. Spicy scents are usually associated with warmth, exoticism, or autumn. Woody scents are usually associated with masculinity, earthiness, or winter.

Scented candles today are also influenced by various factors and trends, such as fashion, lifestyle, environment, or technology. For example, some scented candles today are inspired by popular brands or celebrities, such as Yankee Candle or Jo Malone. Some scented candles today are designed to suit different lifestyles or occasions, such as spa candles or birthday candles. Some scented candles today are made to be more eco-friendly or vegan-friendly, such as soy candles or beeswax candles. Some scented candles today are enhanced by technology or innovation, such as LED candles or smart candles.

Conclusion

To summarize, scented candles have a long and rich history that spans across different regions and cultures, from ancient times to present day. They are now widely available and popular among consumers for their aesthetic and therapeutic benefits. They come in various types and styles, such as jar candles, pillar candles, votive candles, tealight candles, etc. They also come in various fragrances and themes, such as floral, fruity, spicy, woody, etc.