The role of a candle is quite different from its original use for over 2,000 years of recorded time. At one time, a candle was meant to light the night, provide a means to complete tasks after the sun went down and function in places a fire was not feasible.
That was then. Today, we have electricity to light the night. Today’s candle is much different than it once was. Sourcing Nova is going to take a look a bit more deeply into the candle, and its use today.
Candle in modern life
– Candles today have considerably more fragrance than they once did, thanks to the creation of synthetic scents. A candle lit for incense creates mood and ambience that can be both relaxing and romantic. The flame sends the fragrance wafting across the room – providing needed relief to tension and stress of the day’s events and gentle preparation for the same tomorrow.
Childrens’ birthday parties
– The custom of celebrating a child’s birthday is a special one usually met with gifts, ice cream and a cake – topped with a number of candles equaling the child’s current age. Candles are blown out in a single attempt, and the cake is served to the guests.
– Candles have long played an important role in religion and religious ceremony. Prayers with burning candles are lifted to deities, used to mourn the dead, cherish the living and other elements of a ceremony.
Candles also serve in other religious rites. Often times to celebrate an event, as part of hymns and to share in the glories of the afterlife for those of faith sharing in the glory of an afterlife.
– In Columbia, South America, there is the el Día de las Velitas (Candle Day) on December 7th. The people light the streets with candles to celebrate the coming Christmas season.
– Many times candles are not lit but used as accoutrements to a home. This provides a homely feel and a degree of professional interior design.
The candle is incredibly popular for young females and families. The role of the candle as a beauty product in a home or apartment is a huge industry. For the business, particularly spas and high end professional masseuse and masseurs, scented candles are used to soothe and relax customers and clients. The restaurant industry also has seen the value of a candle to create mood and ambience of a romantic, cozy atmosphere for its customer base.
Candles as massage therapy are also gaining traction. Clients report relief of various ailments such as back pain, osteoarthritis, headaches, anxiety and other issues that are common in today’s high paced world.
The more and more places recognizing the value of the candle can only mean the surge in popularity will continue to yield rising sales.
Raw materials for candles
The number of candle waxes has continued to grow as technology has created more and more synthetic materials that function as well or better than natural waxes.
– The original wax necessary for candles still continues as a popular wax. The slight honey-tinged scent makes for a pleasant scent in a home or office. Beeswax remains popular for birthday cakes as the wax will not melt down and contaminate the cake like some synthetic waxes may.
– Paraffin wax is likely the most commonly chosen wax for a variety of reasons. The wax melts well, creates a uniform product, takes color and fragrance well and is relatively inexpensive.
Paraffin is a natural by-product of the petroleum industry.
– Wax harvested from vegetables, specifically soy, is fairly new in the candle making industry but has a strong niche in the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle since none of the products used are animal or animal by-product.
– Often sold under the trade name Kraton™, SEBS resin is a clear, odorless binding agent used in some candles to create a hardened candle that burns much more slowly, takes color and diffuses fragrances slowly.
– This is actually a glue and is used to help bind the base of a wick, often made of zinc, to the bottom of container candles.
Historical important of the candle
The candle of old was a delicate balancing act of a candle burning too quickly without a wick and too quickly with a wick. Therefore, people would trim candles for the amount of time needed. Longer candles meant long chats, friendship and love for one another.
For the Chinese people, the candle is a beacon guide for those lost in the dark.
The humble candle was used for lighting pretty much everything. Up until the 20th century and rise of electricity, oil lamps, particularly kerosene, and candles were the standard for lighting.
However, during the occasional power outage, candle have their place. Many families keep candles on hand for this particular reason and find them invaluable.
Safety tips for all candles:
Always keep candles in a spill proof container or in a place the candle cannot be easily knocked over.
Put them out
Extinguish all candles completely before retiring for the night. By completely, we mean be 100 percent certain the candle is out. There should be no wisps of smoke rising from the wick.
Keep out of the reach of small ones at all times.
Handicraft or special purpose candle
Electricity has eliminated the need for a candle as a light source, but the candle still has an important role for many. The handicraft candle is one used for a variety of different reasons. The most common – aromatherapy.
The Aromatherapy candle
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils extracted from a variety of plant materials for medical and aesthetic purposes. Oils are added to candles for the scent and for good reason.
The sense of smell is the most powerful of all the senses. Faint whiffs of familiar scents will quickly bring back olden memories long stored in the recesses of the brain. These scents activate the amygdala – the emotion center of our brains.
The use of a candle for aromatherapy has mixed results. Studies from medical research institutions have found some positive results, but these are few and far between.
However, massage therapists may use essential oils in addition to the massage oil for relaxation purposes.
Features of An Aromatherapy Candle
The aromatherapy candle is normally infused with an essential oil or combination thereof for a variety of purposes. The colors of the candle can vary widely, depending on the aromatherapy purpose.
Aromatherapy candles are specifically manufactured to produce an excellent flame and scent dispersion for the oil’s fragrances to permeate the air. Doing so has a few positive effects: Soothes nerves, relaxes, cleans the air, masks bad odors and for some, return a sense of joy and pleasure to a life.
Common essential oils
There are several oils used in aromatherapy candles. Here are some of the most common and their characteristics:
– Has some anti-bacterial and inflammatory properties. Good for clearing sinuses and headaches
– Boost energy levels, relieve nausea
Clove basil oil
– Muscle relaxer and stress reduction
– Calming and soothing
– Promotes mental health and clarity
– Upset stomach, gastrointestinal issues
– Respiratory support and appetite stimulant
– Soothe and sedative effect
– Reduce anxiety; increase romance
Much like the handicraft candle, handmade candles can be infused with essential oils and perform a variety of tasks for the user. Typically, handmade candles are for romantic purposes and a strong symbol of a warm and welcoming lifestyle.
Many times the handmade candles come either as a container candle in an ornate or designed jar or from a carefully made mold by an artisan. Either way, the handmade candle is certainly something special.
Those who enjoy DIY would find making candles a fun and interesting hobby since there is the potential to experiment and design a candle best suited for their specific needs. Those who do should consider the following:
Use authentic beeswax
– Natural beeswax burns well, is sustainable and the light honey smell is pleasant
– Beeswax or soy are excellent choices
– Matched with the appropriate wick, a handmade candle can last for some time
– The honey scent matches well to scents selected for addition to the candle
Variety of shapes and sizes
– The only limit is a personal choice
Large color spectrum
– Tailor the color of the candle to the scent
Variety of functions
– Birthday, novelty, decorative and more
– Candles are not an expensive hobby to take up
– Candles are excellent additions to a home
– Candles speak of high culture and exotic locales
China in the candle market
China continues to be a world leader in candle production and for good reason. The candles produced there continue to be of exceptional quality while at a reasonable cost. Mechanization has also yielded candles that have the look and feel of handcrafted but are mass produced.
Currently, there are over 10,000 candle manufacturers in China, boasting more than 200,000 employees. Approximately 75 percent are OEM.
The Chinese people do not see candles for atmosphere, decoration or lighting. This means the country, on average, only uses about 25 percent of the candle production. The vast majority of candles made are exported to the U.S. and Europe – totaling 161 countries. This translates into 45 percent of the total candle trade and a trade volume of 30 percent – the first in the world.
Annual candle sales are approximately 12 billion U.S. dollars with the U.S. and Europe accounting for 75 percent of the market share. The U.S. imports more than China, but the trading tariffs and restrictions have curtailed some of this. China still exports to the U.S., but the focus is moving to the European Union.
The current trends are changing just like many things. For the candle market, the following is taking place:
– New and scented waxes are becoming the norm. Normal use candles has remained relatively stable, but the new scented wax candle styles are growing to a larger share in the market.
– The newer polymer synthetic waxes and vegetable waxes continue to grow in the eco-conscious communities.
– The basic ordinary candle is switching to something more enjoyable and aesthetic.
The rest of the world
– Asia, the Middle East and part of Africa are growing in market shares. The growth potential is considerably high.
– The candle continues to be important because of the electricity issues common in the countries. Flashlights need batteries. Batteries cost more than candles.
Chinese candle manufacturers – challenges and successes
Costs continue to rise because a variety of reasons. The renminbi, standard Chinese currency, material costs and labor costs mean production costs are going up. This could have a negative effect on rising companies; however, the U.S. and E.U.’s continued use of candles sourced from China has led to some countries filing complaints on Chinese candles. Such is certainly a negative for the majority of companies trying to build successful business.
Consumer groups in the U.S. and E.U. continually using candles. Huge swings in the macroecomic factors normally do not affect the candle industry. The majority of the complaints filed are against the paraffin candles designed for lighting and not necessarily enjoyment. This means the mid to high priced candles are not affected with the swings or the complaints.
Paraffin wax is cheap in China. It makes sense – they are the largest producer and export 65 percent of the paraffin wax used across the globe. Since there is little in the way of transport of materials to manufacturers, the savings are passed on.
The government has a hand in the paraffin wax as well. The candle is only a part of the paraffin industry and part of petroleum processing. The Chinese petroleum has the highest percentage of paraffin wax in the world. Even the U.S. with its rich petroleum resources lack paraffin. All paraffin used in the U.S. is imported directly from China.
Paraffin candles provide excellent raw materials for the candle industry and the tangential manufacturers in the glass and ceramic industries. Candles are also labor intensive, so there are few issues with unemployment in China.
The international markets importing candles and paraffin include: Jarden Corp, Blyth, Yankee, Bolsius, Colonial Candle, Candle-lite, Gies, Vollmar, Chesapeake Bay Candle, Kingking, Talent, Pintian Wax, Zhongnam, Langley/Emprire Candle, Allite, Everlight and others.
Chinese vs. European vs. U.S. Manufacturing
Previous large-scale production in the E.U. and U.S. was a definite advantage. However, the abundance of raw materials and continual improvements in manufacturing has meant China is surpassing both with the product market.
The E.U. and U.S. use large machinery and man made wax for low production cost. It is the cultural idea of buying domestic from the two mean the high end market is cornered. China, however, has continued to improve its production and processing to the point the country now rivals both the U.S. and E.U. in competition for the higher end candle market.
As you see, there is a good bit to the candle business and industry. Is there anything we should also cover for the humble candle? We would love to know your thoughts. Leave us a comment below!