Candles are manufactured using a wide variety of waxes, which are naturally produced by plants and animals or refined from mineral deposits and petroleum.
|From Plants||Candelilla wax (E902), from the Mexican shrubs Euphorbia cerifera and Euphorbia antisyphilitica.|
|Carnauba wax (E903), from the leaves of the Carnauba palm, Copernicia cerifera or the Brazilian palm, Copernicia prunifera.|
|From Animals||Beeswax, white and yellow (E901), produced by honey bees.|
|From Minerals||Ozokerite (Earth Wax), extracted from lignite beds and rock fractures.|
|From Petroleum||Microcrystalline wax, produced by de-oiling Petrolatum.|
|Paraffin wax, refined from slack wax by vacuum distillation.|
Chandlers (candle-makers) traditionally used tallow (animal fat) or spermaceti (sperm whale oil) to manufacture candles as a cheaper alternative to Beeswax, although the former produced more smoke and an unpleasant odour. Modern candles are mainly manufactured using Paraffin wax or sometimes Microcrystalline wax, which are both produced through the petroleum refining process. However, Beeswax is still used today in the production of environmentally friendly candles and for ceremonial purposes in churches. Candles can also be constructed using natural plant waxes, such as Carnauba wax or Candelilla wax. Ozokerite paraffin is mostly employed in the manufacture of candles used in hot climates because of its relatively high melting point.
Historically, candles were used for lighting but today are mainly utilised for decoration and ambiance, romantic mood lighting and ceremonial or religious occasions. Demand has also grown for scented candles as an air freshener and mood enhancer following the use of essential oils in aromatherapy.