My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh,
my friends-- It gives a lovely light!
First Fig - Edna St. Vincent Millay
It has been estimated that it takes 10,000 bees three days to produce 1lb. of pure
beeswax (a block 16cm x 7cm x 4cm deep approx.) – and to produce this they need to
consume at least 6lb. of honey. One pound of honey requires 37,000 loads of nectar
– the mileage flown by bees to gather this amount of nectar is approximately 50,000
miles. A 2oz. beeswax candle requires a total journey of 37,500 miles or 1½ times
round the world!
Candles made from pure beeswax can be formed by moulding in a variety of shapes or
by repeated dipping of the wick in molten wax.
Beeswax candles have been in use for many hundreds of years, until the introduction
of paraffin wax in the 19th century, although by the time of Queen Elizabeth I only
the very rich could afford them.
Poor people had 'farthing dips' or 'rush lights' made by dipping thin sedge or split
rush stems in molten tallow (mutton fat) or beeswax. Wealthy people used beeswax
candles for themselves and tallow candles for their servants, and for centuries both
had to be 'snuffed' every half hour or so to prevent them from smoking. A split rush
stem curved over naturally as the hard outer edge became hot in the flame but it
took a long time to learn from this. It was not until a few years after the battle
of Waterloo (1815) that it was realised that a braided wick with one thread drawn
more tightly would curve over naturally and burn away to keep the right length.
Worth reading: "Beginner's Guide to Candle Making" by David Constable published by
Search Press obtainable from Northern Bee Books at www.beedata.com