Though our relationship with candles has changed substantially in the last hundred fifty years with the standardization of the electric light bulb, humans and candles have a long history that extends as far back as the 10th Century BCE.
The world's oldest candles on record have been found in Ancient Rome and were made of none other than our favorite fat: tallow. Due to its natural abundance and clean burning properties, tallow remained the primary fat used to make candles for centuries.
So when did tallow candles fall out of favor? And why?
Beeswax was introduced in the 1500s as an alternative to tallow, and many began to prefer it because it was easier to create a clean-smelling candle with. Beeswax also has several other benefits for candlemaking, including its ability to purify the air and neutralize allergens by emitting negative ions when burned. On the other hand, the quality of tallow candles varies dramatically and largely depends on the source fat rendered and the render's quality. Other fats and waxes that have been used in candlemaking throughout history include:
- Spermaceti (a waxy material obtained from sperm whales).
- Bayberry wax.
- Paraffin (a carcinogenic material obtained from coal and oil shale).
Burning Candles Today
The vast majority of candles on the market today are made from either soy, paraffin, or a combination of both – in fact, most candles marketed as 'soy candles' actually contain a high percentage of paraffin, which, when burned, releases several toxic compounds like acetone, benzene, and toluene, all of which are known to cause lung cancer and asthma.
We no longer need candles in our life the way we did in times past – we have newer technologies for keeping warm and creating light – yet the candle industry is alive and thriving. Why? Who doesn't love candles? They set the mood with their sultry light and scent, offering a relaxed atmosphere, and they illustrate an intention of slowing down, honoring tradition, and being present at the moment.
Setting Holistic Intentions
We knew we had to do it right when we decided to make candles. If people are going to burn candles, they should have a holistic experience – one that is as good for them physically as it is emotionally and does no harm to the environment. Through much trial and error, we landed on the perfect blend of in-house rendered suet tallow and raw beeswax to create the cleanest burning candle on the market.
Suet tallow differs from other tallow in that it specifically comes from the fat surrounding the loins and kidneys of cattle. Significantly cleaner when rendered, it can be considered the 'leaf lard' of tallow. Our suet comes from local regenerative organic cattle raised naturally on pasture. We chose to incorporate locally sourced sustainable beeswax for its air-purifying qualities and ability to provide a slower burn, making your candle last longer.
And then there's scent - the all too often undisclosed secret ingredient. The vast majority of candles sold in the United States are scented, but with what? Typically labeled 'fragrance' or 'fragrance oil,' most scents used in commercial candle making are synthetically derived and contain a chemical called diethyl phthalate, known to cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea.
Summer Solace aims to create healthy candles that honor the earth and our ancestors and is committed to using exclusively organic essential oils and absolutes to scent our candles. Crafting naturally scented candles is a delicate art form that we do not take lightly.
The Summer Solace Difference
Since we started making tallow candles, they have made a much-deserved and exciting comeback, but as with everything, not all tallow candles are created equal. Summer Solace is dedicated to providing the highest quality, fully traceable tallow candles available, and for us, this means:
• knowing the ranchers, butchers, and beekeepers who provide us with the raw materials
• taking the time to render the suet into tallow in-studio ourselves
• carefully blending the tallow with the perfect proportion of beeswax for an ideal scent base and texture
• adding tasteful amounts of handcrafted aromatherapeutic organic scent blends
• using lead-free eco-cotton wicks for a truly clean burn
• hand pouring into recycled glass vessels for maximum sustainability