Origin of candles


Candles originated from torches in primitive times. Pri […]

Candles originated from torches in primitive times. Primitives put things like fat or wax on bark or wood chips and bundled them together to make torches for lighting. Beeswax, which appeared around the 3rd century BC, may have been the precursor to the candles seen today. In the West, for a period of time, bees were kept in monasteries and used to make beeswax. This is mainly because Catholics believe that beeswax is a symbol of virgin conception, so beeswax is regarded as pure light and is enshrined on the altar of the church. . Judging from the existing literature, the time of beeswax production in my country is roughly the same as that in the West. Japan introduced this candle from my country during the Nara period (710-784). Compared with modern candles, ancient candles have many shortcomings. . Li Shangyin, a poet in the Tang Dynasty, wrote the poem "Why should we cut candles in the west window together?"



Why do poets cut candles? At that time, the candle core was made of cotton thread and stood upright in the center of the flame. Because it could not be burnt out and charred, the end of the remaining core had to be cut off with scissors from time to time. This is undoubtedly a troublesome thing. In 1820, the Frenchman Champagne invented the candle core made of three cotton threads, so that the candle core naturally loosens when burning, and the end just sticks to the outside of the flame, so it can burn completely. But the candle still needs to be further perfected. Its material is generally animal fat with many shortcomings. It is Scheuerer et al. Between June and July 1809, French Kejia Scheffler received a letter from a textile factory asking him to analyze and determine the composition of a soft soap sample they sent. He pondered over the letter for a long time, thinking: To study soap, it seems that we have to start with the raw material oil. In a school experiment with very simple and unpretentious equipment, he studied various oils that need to be used in the saponification process.


After a lot of experiments, he discovered for the first time the fact that in all oils and fats, regardless of their source, the content of fatty acids accounts for 95%, and the remaining 5% is glycerol generated during the saponification process. Through research, he clarified the nature of the saponification process. At the same time, he also made a major discovery: the candle made of oil at that time, because of the glycerin in it, burned with smoke and smelled unpleasant. If the candle is made of stearic acid, it will not only burn brightly, but also has almost no black smoke and no air pollution. Scheffler told Guy-Lussac of his findings, and suggested that the two work together to study how to specifically solve the problem. They saponified the oil with a strong base, and then decomposed the resulting soap with hydrochloric acid to remove stearic acid. This is a white substance that feels greasy to the touch, and candles made from it are soft and cheaper.

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