Whether you’re interested in the history of candle making or just want to participate in some clean living, you too can have your own homemade luxury candles without hurting the environment. So many people now are looking for candles that are non-toxic, but what can you do to tap into that niche?
Do tallow candles burn clean?
Because they are a natural substance, tallow candles are non-toxic and burn clean, making them environmentally friendly. Compared to a synthetic wax like paraffin, tallow does not produce toxic additives or any sort of fumes that could create lung problems like the paraffin wax candles.
There is much debate in the candle industry about non-toxic and toxic candles. Shifting to natural waxes and additives are very popular—so how can you become a part of that industry? Read on to answer your questions about the natural wax alternative of tallow, how it can be used, and some history on the subject.
What are tallow candles?
Tallow candles are candles that are made with the hardened and saturated animal fat from around an animal’s kidneys, usually from a cow or a sheep. This fat, or tallow, can be used in place of the wax of a candle.
When did people use tallow candles?
While people are still making tallow candles for home use, they used to be something integral to the work force and existence of many. From all the way back into Greek and Roman times people have been using candles in rituals and to light their homes, all the way up through to the 20th Century as electric light became more popular and easier to obtain.
After the creation of rushlights, or pieces of rush dipped in grease to use as a quick and inexpensive candle, people started to use items from their kitchen in creating candles. Around 500 BCE, the Romans started using tallow in their candles, which were usually given as gifts for their Saturnalia celebration. This holiday would eventually become Christmas and New Year’s.
The Western world is not the only part of the globe that used fat to create candles. In the Eastern world, there have been whale fat candles found in mausoleums all the way back to the 210s BCE. In the indigenous peoples of Alaska and the Arctic Circle, they would catch a smelt fish, let it dry, and then light it on fire to use for light.
Tallow candles started to fall out of favor as the whaling industry produced an oil from sperm whales that was made into candles. Even more so these candles fell out of favor when the Industrial Revolution occurred, leading to the creation of paraffin wax. Only when electricity started becoming popular did they start to lose their foothold completely.
Do tallow candles smell badly?
At first, tallow candles smelled like meat as they burned, which led to a ban on them in some Medieval European cities. Because of how the fat is created—they contain glycerin, which is a naturally occurring chemical within tallow and soybeans—it can create a horrible smell. Glycerin, though, is not a harmful chemical. It is used in the food industry for a preservative and sugar substitute, and it is also included in many personal care items like soap. Regardless, in these Medieval cities, tallow was banned, and the shift to more inexpensive wax types started to occur.
How long do tallow candles burn?
Tallow candles, like all candles, have variable burn times, but in most cases, a tallow candle will burn slower than the more toxic alternative, like paraffin wax, meaning they will also last longer.
Do tallow candles burn clean?
Because they are a natural substance, tallow candles are non-toxic and burn clean. Compared to a synthetic wax like paraffin, tallow does not produce toxic additives or any sort of fumes that could create lung problems like the paraffin wax candles. This also means that tallow candles are environmentally friendly and they do not contribute to air pollution.
What are the advantages of a tallow candle?
Besides tallow burning cleanly, tallow candles are easily sustainable. Because they are made from animal fat that would typically be thrown out, they are also not adding to the world’s waste, making them even more environmentally friendly.
What are some other uses for tallow?
Tallow is extremely useful in household items—not just for candles. As mentioned before, it contains glycerin, which is used for home and personal care, along with cooking. It is used as a cooking oil and can be used as a food ingredient. It can be used in gentle soaps and bath supplies as well. Glycerin is also used as a sugar substitute and can be used as a food preservative.
How do I make tallow candles smell better?
Rendering your tallow properly can help ease the smell of the naturally occurring tallow. To make it smell better, you can also add fragrance to your candles exactly how you would scent your other types of waxes. If you want to stay with the natural fragrances for your natural candle, use essential oils as your fragrances.
How do I make a tallow candle?
Creating your own tallow, and therefore, your own tallow candle, can be labor intensive and messy. That being said, the first step is acquiring your tallow. You can use any sort of animal fat for your tallow except for pork. Hunters can acquire animal fat easily, and if that is not an option for you, considering speaking to your local butcher. They can sell it to you, or often, it will be given to you, as it is not worth keeping for many.
One important thing to remember is using a dense, highly saturated fat. The fat that is found around the kidneys is usually best for making tallow candles.
Rendering the tallow is the first step in creating your candles. This will make your candle burn more efficiently, along with removing any impurities in the tallow that could change the way it smells or burns. Freeze your tallow and go through it to make sure it is as clear of any nonfat material as possible. Place it in a heated pot or crockpot to start it rendering. You can add water to your fat to help it to render, but it is not required. Keep it at a low temperature and stir continuously as to not burn the tallow.
When smaller pieces of fat rise to the top of the liquified fat, remove them. When the fat melts completely and it is cleaned of all larger impurities, run it through a cheesecloth when it is still warm to remove any other impurities. Allow tallow to cool so you can use it later, or you can use the still warm, liquid tallow to create a candle.
Using a container or mold
Is your best option for tallow candles. Use a natural wick, as burning natural wax types work best with wicks such as cotton. It may depend on the type of wax, size of the candle, saturation, etc., so feel free to experiment with types of wicks for this type of candle.
Maintaining a clean, natural lifestyle while still enjoying a luxury candle doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. You too can make your own candle from animal fats like tallow. Make sure to keep all your ingredients and supplies natural for the true experience—and if you’re planning on selling your candles, make sure your customers know your attention to detail. People love homemade candles, but knowing that the process of their creation not only emulates hundreds of years of candle making but also makes a positive impact on the environment will only help you bring in more customers.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a rushlight?
Like the naturally created tallow candle, a rushlight is created by taking a rush plant, removing most of the outer layer, letting it dry, and soaking it in grease before using it as a candle. They were used by ancient peoples all the way through to the 20th century for a light source.
Can you use lard to make candles?
Just like tallow, you can use lard to make candles. It will create a softer candle, so you may have to use a container for your candle to keep its shape. Consider adding natural fragrances from essential oils and a natural wick to keep your candle nontoxic.
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Meet Shawn Chun: Entrepreneur and Candle Business Fan.
I’m a happy individual who happens to be an entrepreneur. I have owned several types of businesses in my life from a coffee shop to an import and export business to an online review business plus a few more and now I create online candle business resources for those interested in starting new ventures. It’s demanding work but I love it. I do it for those passionate about their business and their goals. That’s why when I meet a candle business owner at a craft fair, farmers market, retail location or anywhere else I see myself. I know how hard the struggle is to obtain and retain clients, finding good employees all while trying to stay competitive. That’s why I created Candle Business Boss: I want to help candle business owners like you build a thriving business that brings you endless joy and supports your ideal lifestyle.