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These days, we burn scented candles because we love them. Their fragrance fills our homes, and that warm little point of light can be cozy, romantic, or festive. However, you don’t have to go back many generations to find candles as everyday items in every home and workplace. We take a look at the history of the candle, from gift to household essential and back to gift again.

Roman Candles

The typical Roman household used oil lamps rather than candles, as olive oil was cheap and plentiful. We can still add candles to the long list of things that “the Romans have done for us”, as they were probably the first to create a recognizable candle (around 500 BC).

They were made from tallow, which is rendered animal fat. Tallow candles certainly have a strong aroma, but not in a good way! (In ancient India, cinnamon was added to give a pleasant aroma – the first scented candles?) Despite the smell, candles were regarded as luxury items. They were Roman status symbols, and were given as gifts.

The Growth Of Candles

When the Roman Empire fell, so did the ready supply of oil across Europe. Candles became the default source of light, and the “chandlery” trade developed (chandlers were craftsmen who made candles, among other things).

Consumers had two main choices: tallow candles, which were cheap but dim and smelly, or beeswax, which burned cleanly, but was prohibitively expensive for most. Candles were one of the essential items that divided the population into the “haves and have nots” and continued to do so for generations. If you were really poor, you’d probably be burning a “rushlight”, made from a rush coated in layers of animal fat. They were long and skinny, and burned for about twenty minutes.

Then in the eighteenth century, whalers discovered a substance inside the sperm whale’s head, which they named spermaceti. A single whale could provide up to four tons of this waxy substance, which was white, odorless and burned cleanly. Candles became cheaper to produce, and far less smelly – although at an unacceptable cost to these incredible animals.

Mass-Market Candles

But even spermaceti couldn’t light our growing nation, and the expanding UK population needed a lot more candles. There were two key nineteenth-century inventions that enabled supply to keep up with demand – and kept the costs down.

In 1834, a pewter worker named Joseph Morgan designed a machine that could make up to 1500 candles per hour. Then in the 1850s, chemist James Young devised the process for extracting paraffin from oil and coal. Stearin (a processed fat from animals, like tallow but without the stinky glycerin content) was added to increase the melting point. Candles were now cheap, could be made in bulk, and burned for longer.

The world would still seem incredibly dim to our modern eyes. Mirrors were used to reflect candle light, and the Georgians had favored pale colors and plenty of windows to increase their lux levels. The Victorians took a different approach: mirrors were still used, but decor became darker, partly to hide all the sooty stains from the paraffin.

And along came Edison and his commercially viable incandescent light bulb… It would be a while before many households could afford electricity; however, many switched from candles to kerosene lamps or had gas installed. Candles still featured in religious celebrations, festive decorations and on birthday cakes but, in terms of domestic use, candles were gradually snuffed out.

Contemporary Candles: Back to Nature

We’ve come full circle and returned to the time of ancient Rome. These days, we have our everyday source of light (electricity), while candles are a luxurious addition, given as gifts and used to decorate and scent our homes. However, the idea of candles being burned for their fragrance would have made a medieval peasant choke on his mead!

Paraffin brought light to millions; but modern candle makers are returning to greener forms of wax. Soy wax and beeswax are two of the natural waxes used for modern candles; and at Dexter & Mason, we love the clean burn of soy wax.

Now that we “chandlers” aren’t responsible for lighting the nation, we can focus on the elements of candle making that our customers want: natural ingredients, a clean burn, and quality, lasting scents. Have a look at our collection of scented candles, made with our small-scale and sustainable approach.

Written by Alison

Check Out Our Line of Classic Candles... CLICK HERE

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Good morning. I hope you are doing well. As for me, I am dug out of the 120-140 inches of snow we have received here in Flagstaff Arizona. They say that is about 50 inches above our yearly average. No matter how you look at it, that’s just a lot of snow.

Getting shut in during all this snow fall has given me some time to get caught up some. I do have to admit, there was a day or so that I just sat around and enjoyed the down time. I used those to think about things about new fragrances that I would like to try and test. Some of the new fragrances coming out from my distributors are sounding pretty darn cool. Guess I will need to get some sample vials and make up a few wax melts.

Speaking of wax melts, people always ask me what they are and are they worth spending the money for them. First of all, let me explain what wax melts are and how they came to be. Wax melts are completely wickless scented pieces of wax that are melted in a warmer. The warmer heats and melts the solid wax. As the wax melts, it fills up the area with scent. Melts are also referred to as wax tarts and wax cubes.

Wax melts originated from candle makers looking for something to do with their leftover wax after pouring candles. So, they poured them into small round or square cubes instead of pouring the leftover wax away. They later learned that they could be remelted by reheating them. Pretty cool, right?

As for whether they are worth spending money on, that depends on you and your lifestyle. Let me explain that a little more. Wax melts are not that expensive in general. They give you an inexpensive way to try a fragrance before you invest in a candle. I make them first to see how the fragrance works within a given area. If they perform up to my standards, then that fragrance goes to the candle stage where it is tested even more.

Some of my customers prefer wax melts over candles for various reasons. If you use a Silicone Flip Dish in your wax warmer then you can change fragrances without all the hassle of cleaning your warmer each time. Once the wax hardens, just pop it out and reload. You can also save the hardened fragrance to remelt later or make your own special fragrance by mixing them together. Less waste over all. This is the main reason my customers who swear by wax melts use them.

Another big reason is that there are a lot of places that are implementing what is referred to as a “No Flame” policy. What that basically means is that they do not allow the burning of candles. Places such as college dormitories, retirement homes, apartment buildings and recently several places of business. The reason for this is because of the potential fire hazards if left unattended or not used in the proper way. Wax melts do not pose a fire risk and generally are easy to clean up if accidentally spilled. 99% of the time just a little soap and hot water will do the trick.

Overall, wax melts are long lasting, fun, relatively inexpensive, and also provide a safe way to enjoy great scents. They are a convenient choice when you want to control the amount of scent, experiment with new scents, and fill your home with wonderful fragrances.

Interesting, huh? Just when you thought you knew a lot about candles…If this has piqued your interest or inspired your warmer side, our wax melts and take a look around. We also carry a variety of different wax melters for you to choose from as well.

You can find us on the web here: (click the link).

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Fragrance is the strongest of the senses and is best able to influence brain activity. It has a powerful effect on behavior. Certain fragrances can brighten our moods and lift our spirits, like the fragrance of a good cup of coffee and warm cinnamon buns straight from the oven. Some fragrances we might find repulsive and alert us to danger. Just think of your reaction to the unpleasant scent of a skunk or the fragrance of burning toast. Such strong fragrances usually trigger an instant reaction and alert us to take corrective action. An exotic perfume or the fragrance of your lover’s skin can lead to intimacy and romance while others bring a sense of calm and make us feel at home. Some fragrances simply make you feel better.

Since birth, our fragrance receptors have been busy cataloguing every fragrance that passed through our nostrils. The brain processes information delivered through our other senses by cognitive identification first, which in turn triggers an emotional response. But our sense of fragrance is unique. It does the opposite. Our fragrance receptors are directly connected to the limbic system which controls emotional behavior and memory. Incoming aromas first trigger an emotional response which is then followed by cognitive recognition. As new-born infants snuggled up against our mothers’ breast, the fragrance of her skin gave us a deep sense of comfort and safety. That first fragrance, lodged deep within our memory, still has the power to trigger intense feelings. The environment of our childhood, with its varied fragrances, built the platform of fragrance memories which determines how we respond to the hints of those fragrances to today.

If fragrances are such powerful influencers of moods and behavior doesn’t it make sense that changing the fragrance can also change the behavior? Research is pointing to that probability. So while the sense of fragrance is the least known of our senses, it has recently emerged as a new medical frontier. As research identifies how fragrance is identified and transmitted, we will be able to use a variety of fragrances to obtain the maximum benefits we desire. Scientists suggest the quickest way to alter mood or emotion is with fragrances. They discovered that specific fragrances can suppress appetite, reduce stress and anxiety, induce happiness, and help you get a good night's sleep, keep you awake and alert, and even increase romantic desire.

The perception of fragrance consists not only of the sensation of the odors themselves but of the experiences and emotions associated with these sensations. Fragrances can evoke strong emotional reactions. The positive emotional effects of pleasant fragrances also affect our perceptions of other people. In experiments, subjects exposed to pleasant fragrances tend to give higher attractiveness ratings to people in photographs, although some recent studies have shown that these effects are only significant where there is some ambiguity in the pictures. If a person is clearly outstandingly beautiful, or not our type, fragrance does not affect our judgment. But if the person is just average, a pleasant fragrance will tip the balance of our evaluation in his or her favor. So, the beautiful models used to advertise perfume probably have no need of it, but the rest of us ordinary mortals might well benefit from a spray or two of something pleasant.

Fragrances can be persuasive. They are one of the most powerful triggers to memory. Sometimes a fragrance can take you to a past moment or trigger a past memory. The right fragrance can make you energized, aroused or confident for example. The influence of fragrances over our moods is quite powerful. What fragrances influence YOU?

Check Out Our Line of Classic Candles... CLICK HERE

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