Home Page

Stefan's Florilegium


This document is also available in: text or RTF formats.

candles-msg - 3/3/11


Candle snuffers, making candles, wax, tallow. Period references.


NOTE: See also the files: candlesticks-msg, lighting-msg, lamps-msg, flt-wick-lmps-art, torches-msg, firestarting-msg, Med-Lighting-lnks.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

   Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



To: Mark Harris

From: Dennis Sherman



Perfume isn't something I've done much research on - I know

essential oils were distilled from plants and flowers quite

early, but I have no idea if they were used in candles.


Tallow candles should not go rancid - the process of boiling down

the fat into tallow is to remove all the proteinous matter that

can rot.  That's why I want to do it outdoors - I'm not thrilled

(and neither is my wife) with the idea of a big pot of animal fat

boiling and being skimmed indoors.  Several sources suggest that

the candles should be stored in a cool place for several months

before they are used, which is supposed to make them last longer.


Early lighthouses used oil lamps.  Whale oil was the common fuel

starting in the 18th C., I believe.


All my sources agree the best tallow candles were made from a mix

of sheep and ox fat.  Lesser quality candles were made from ox

(or cattle) alone, and at least two specifically say not to use

pig, as it smokes and smells.  Crisco is a vegetable fat,

chemically treated to be solid, I think.  If you try it (and I

wouldn't hold my breath for success) let me know how it turns

out. Several sources do talk about vegetable tallow from different

plants (bayberry, a new world plant, is the most common example in

this country), so I suppose the Crisco might work.


There really isn't a straight wick - either twisted or

plaited (braided).  None of the fibres that might be used as wick

material would stay together if they weren't twisted.  Take a look

at how thread is made - they don't call it "spun" for no reason!


I don't recall beeswax having any particular smell the few times

I've burned beeswax candles.  I know the wax goes through several

steps of purification before it is sold.  Burning honey, on the

other hand, has the caramelizing smell of burning sugar, as anyone

who has had a boilover while making mead can tell you :-)


Thanks for the questions and comments - I can see where the article

will be all the better for it.


   Robyyan Torr d'Elandris                Dennis R. Sherman

   Kapellenberg, Windmaster's Hill        Chapel Hill, NC

   Atlantia                               drs at uncvx1.bitnet

                                           drs at uncvx1.oit.unc.edu





Greetings to Lord Stefan li Rous.


I would guess the best bet for a wick would be to use commercially made wicking,

which can be found at hobby stores.  If you want something a little less

sophisticated, cotton "candlewicking" embroidery thread has been readily

available in needlework supply stores for some years now, owing to a revival of

embroidery in that medium.  I don't know what was used in period.  Linen thread,



I've heard down the years that tallow candles, as a rule, are less desirable

than paraffin or beeswax because they are smokier and they smell.  I'm thinking

of trying a blend of tallow and beeswax to see if the latter cuts down on these

problems. Paraffin is cleanest burning, to my mind, but definitely modern. I'd

love to have beeswax candles, but today, as in the middle ages, they are too

costly for everyday use.


If I can answer any other questions for you, please let me know.


Yours in service,


Dunstana Talana the Violet

Northkeep, Ansteorra


Jennifer Carlson

Tulsa, Oklahoma

JLC at vax2.utulsa.edu



From: JLC at vax2.utulsa.EDU (JENNIFER CARLSON)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: RE: Tallow

Date: 15 Jul 1993 11:45:13 -0400

Organization: The Internet


Richard du Geusclin asked how to go about getting tallow and making candles.

I've only used tallow for making soap, but the process of rendering the tallow

is the same:


Go to a butcher or a grocery store that has a real meat counter and ask for

several pounds of beef fat scraps.  The butcher may look at you funny.  Say

what you want the fat for, and the funny look usually goes away.  Make sure it

is understood that you only want BEEF fat.  Pork fat makes LARD, which has a

different consistency than tallow.  Phone the butcher first, since meat cutters

usually throw out all the scaps after the morning cuttings.  Some places do not

charge for fat scraps.  If you're charged more than a nickle a pound you're

being ripped off.


5 to 10 pounds of fat is a good amount to start with.  Rinse it off with cool

water, trim all the meat scraps off (use the meat to make broth or feed it to

your dog - it will be fresh and will have been refrigerated).  Chop the fat up

into small pieces.  The smaller the pieces, the better it will render, but it is

tiring after a while, so I usually cut the pieces about the size of my thumb.


Fill a large pot - I use a stock pot or a canning pot - 1/3 to 1/2 full of fat

and up to about an inch from the top with water.  Put it on the stove over

medium heat.  Rendering tallow can be a rather smelly business, so turn on the

fan in your stove hood, open a window, put a fan in the kitchen, or something.

Bring the fat and water up to a low boil, and keep it there for a couple of

hours, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes.  Skim off any foam or blood that may

rise up.  Be sure to add more water as it cooks down.  Be patient.  As the

tallow and water cooks out of them, what's left of the pieces of fat will

shrink up into ugly little greyish things called "cracklings."


Take the pot off the heat and remove the cracklings with a slotted spoon or a

seive. If you really want to, you can render them again to get the last bit of

tallow out of them.  I usually just throw them out.  Strain the liquid -

carefully! - through a few layers of cheescloth into a large mixing bowl and let

stand to cool.  After a couple of hours put it in the refrigerator to chill.


Once it's chilled take it out and remove the white stuff on top: this is tallow.

The water underneath will be grayish and nasty, and a layer of gelatin may

cling to the bottom of the tallow.  Discard the water and the gelatin, and

scrape the bottom of the tallow cake clean.  If the tallow is fully rendered, it

will be firm, uniform in color, and smooth in texture.  If, at room temperature,

it is yellowish, semi-liquid, grainy, or oily looking, put it in a pot with an

equal amount of water, bring to a boil, strain into a bowl, and cool again, and

discard the water and impurities that settle to the bottom.  You may need to do

this two or three times to get all of the impurities out.


Wrap the finished cake of tallow in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

It will keep fresh for a couple of months.


I do not know if there are any special tricks for making molded candles from

tallow. I can only suggest the old "dip" method, wherein you dip a length of

wicking into melted tallow (the tallow will turn yellow when it melts, by the

way), pull it out and let the tallow harden, dip it again to add another coat,

pull it out, etc., until you reach the desired thickness of candle.  


Good luck with the candles, and let me know how they turn out!


Yours in service,


Dunstana Talana the Violet

Northkeep, Ansteorra


Jennifer Carlson

Tulsa, Oklahoma

JLC at vax2.utulsa.edu



From: sherman at trln.lib.unc.edu (dennis r. sherman)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: RE: Tallow

Date: 15 Jul 1993 18:20:49 GMT

Organization: Triangle Research Libraries Network


Greetings to the Rialto from Robyyan.


Dunstana writes, in answer to Richard du Guesclin's question about



>Go to a butcher or a grocery store that has a real meat counter and ask for

>several pounds of beef fat scraps.  The butcher may look at you funny.  Say

>what you want the fat for, and the funny look usually goes away.  Make sure it

>is understood that you only want BEEF fat.  Pork fat makes LARD, which has a


Actually, if you want the absolute highest quality tallow, ask for

MUTTON fat.  At least for the purpose of candlemaking, I don't know

about soap.  All my lighting history sources that discuss tallow agree

the best tallow is mutton, followed by beef.  And they say to

absolutely avoid pork, as it will smoke and smell.


The rest of Dunstana's description of processing tallow is quite good,

except I'd emphasize the probable need to boil, strain, and cool more

than once.



Robyyan Torr d'Elandris  Kapellenberg, Windmaster's Hill  Atlantia

Dennis R. Sherman                 Triangle Research Libraries Network

dennis_sherman at unc.edu       Univ. of North Carolina - Chapel Hill



From: Ursula <jmiller at genome.wi.mit.edu>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: RE: Tallow

Date: 15 Jul 1993 21:17:14 GMT

Organization: Whitehead Institute


My two bits' worth on tallow:  I cook it in one pass -- cook it for 3-4

hours, and mash it up with a potato masher every so often.  Cook it until

you mostly have clear, bubbling fat, and brown crispies.  All the water

will have boiled away by this point, so  put it through a strainer (use a

spoon to squish the last bit of fat out).  Then pour it into a (bread)

loaf pan that has 1/2 inch of hot water in it.  Cool to room temp, then

cool in the fridge.  Then pop it out (with the help of running _cold_

water), and voila!  A brick of tallow.  


Note: the 1/2 inch of hot water ensures that the brown crispies that went

through the sieve will drop through into the water, leaving your tallow

very clean.


Note: don't bother with the slimy fat from your butcher, use only the

hard, solid stuff.


Note: Call the meat department of your favorite supermarket -- they'll

generally collect what you ask for, and it's more likely to be free.


Note: Store the tallow in the freezer.



How does one make candles out of the tallow?  (I know how to make soap).



jmiller at genome.wi.mit.edu



From: LIBLBM at orion.DEpaul.EDU (MURPHY          LORI)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: RE: SCA Digest V6 #556

Date: 15 Jul 1993 18:28:19 -0400

Organization: The Internet


        I have done some work with tallow (beef fat).  In order to

start from scratch (since tallow isn't readily available), you'll

need to find beef fat.  In central Indiana, my former home, one

could obtain it easily from a local slaughterhouse.  Kidney fat

is the choice fat. It has a lower amount of unwanted body parts.

        However you get it, you'll then need to render it.  To do

that, simply trim away any non fat and heat it up in a large

container with half water and half fat.  It will take some time

but you will eventually have three layers:  fat, water, and

chunks of fat that will not render.  The chunks will float so

you can skim those off (cracklin's for you farm folks).

        Let the whole thing cool into stratified layers.  Your

clean tallow will be mostly white, just slice the sediment away

and toss it, leaving you with clean tallow.

        Pork fat is sometimes available in the grocery store.

You won't want to use it for candles, it doesn't burn as well

and smells worse.  You shouldn't use it for soaps either.  If you

keep the wick of a tallow canle trimmed it won't smoke as much

and you'll have less smell, they still smell a bit.  You'll

just have a house/camp/tent that smells a little like a greasy

spoon. Hope this helps.  If you need more, respond. I have more



Yours, Seamus



Date:30 Jul 1993


RE>Tallow, soap & lye


Ha! I'll bet you thought I'd forgotten about you!  No, I just got busy

towards the end of the week.


Slimy versus hard fat:

Well, some fat is hard, like suet, and fat from some places (like just

under the skin) is sort of slippery and slimy.  The second kind doesn't

really contain very much actual fat, and isn't very useful for making

tallow. The meat department won't save very much of it for you, either,

because it's  difficult to cut off.  Don't worry about it.  It's not bad,

just not very useful.


How to make soap:

Get the following little tome:  Soap: Making It, Enjoying It, by Ann

Bramson. 1975.  Workman Publishing Company, New York. ISBN# 0-911104-57-7.



I've tried the Castile Soap recipe from this book, and it works

beautifully. In fact, I don't buy soap anymore (that bit about homemade

soap being caustic is bunk if get the proportions right).  It's also the

recipe that's most likely to be period.



POT: Get a dedicated soap-making pot: Stainless steel or cast iron is okay,

but I prefer enamel.  Make sure there are NO dings or nicks -- the enamel

must be perfect (I bought a brand new one at Bradlees (that's Target to

you)). If the enamel is chipped, the lye will eat through it.  You can't

use an aluminum pot for the same reason -- the lye will eat aluminum even



ONE-GALLON PLASTIC MILK JUG (with cap):  For mixing up the lye.


LYE: Use Red Devil brand lye, which is found next to the Drano in your

supermarket. It's the only brand I know of that's 100% lye.  Drano has

other stuff in it, so don't use that.


SPOON: Also get a dedicated wooden spoon.  The lye really soaks into the

wood, so don't think of using it for food afterwards.


THERMOMETER: It should be fairly responsive (i.e., not a fever

thermometer), and register up to about 110F.


MOLD: Ideally, a disposable styrofoam cooler, not too large.  12-15" by

6-8" is fine.  Line it with a new garbage bag, trying to minimize the



The recipe:


26 oz. Olive oil

60 oz. Tallow

11 oz. Lye

32 oz. Water

NOTE: all of the above amounts are in DRY WEIGHT measure, NOT fluid

ounces! A food scale works great.


1: Put some very cold water in your sink.

2: Put the milk jug on the scale, and zero it.  Add 32 ounces of water.

3: Measure out 11 oz. of lye onto a piece of sturdy paper.  Hold the jug

in the sink of cold water, and carefully add the lye.  Cap it loosely, and

swirl it in the cold water.  It will get quite hot.  Be careful not to burn

yourself, and not to splash lye on you.  Rinse immediately if you do.  Wear

clothes you don't care about.  Cool the lye to 95-98 degrees F, making sure

it's completely dissolved.


4: Fill the sink with water that's 95-98F.

5: Melt the tallow & olive oil together in your dedicated pot.  It will

almost certainly shoot over 98F, so cool it in the sink.

6: When the fats are between 95 and 98F, start stirring (leave the pot in

the water in the sink).  Slowly drizzle in the lye, stirring constantly.

When all the lye is in, check the temp.  If it isn't between 95 and 98, get

it there by adjusting the temp of the sink water.

7: When the soap mixture is the right temp, remove it from the sink, and

stir constantly for 1-2 hours (yes, you read that right).  It will take

longer on a hot day, less on a cool day, but you can bet on at least an

hour. Be sure to stir stuff up from the bottom, and out from the middle

and corners.  Eventually, it will change color, and become whitish.  You're

getting there.  When it traces, it's ready to pour into the mold.  By

"traces", I mean that when you pick up some of the mixture on the spoon,

and pour it out over the surface, it leaves a little trail behind that

actually stays there on the surface.  Your "Joy of Cooking" has a good

definition in the Candymaking section.

8: Pour the mixture into the mold(s).  I usually stir it up a little more

vigorously right before I pour it, because I've always ended up with a

couple of little lye droplets in the middle of the soap cake.  Oh well.

9: Cover it up with the styrofoam lid or a folded up blanket to kep the

heat in.  The reaction is slightly exothermic, and will continue for a

couple of days, and will slow after that.  Don't even peek for 24 hours.

10: After 48 hours, carefully remove the cake from the mold (if it's too

soft to do this, wait another day).  Cut it up into bars, and let them cure

for 4 weeks.  The saponification reaction should be pretty much done by

then. Keep track of tha bars that were on the outside of the big block.

These will have a white layer of sodium hydroxide of them, which should be

trimmed off with a knife and thrown away.  Trimming, shaping, and carving

can be done any time the consistency seems right, but don't use the stuff

before it's aged 4 weeks.


Note: Fragrent oils can be stirred in right before pouring into the mold.

Do not use anything water based.  The lye will destroy it.


How to make your own lye (I have not tried this):

Pack hardwood ashes in a barrel that has holes drilled in the bottom.  Run

water through the barrel, catch the water when it runs out the bottom.

Stir it up.  Put an uncooked egg in it.  If it floats, dilute it by adding

more water.  If it sinks, run the proto-lye through the ashes again to make

it more concentrated.




Ursula von Moechwald

a.k.a. Joyce Miller

jmiller at genome.wi.mit.edu



From: Jennifer Geard (6/13/94)

To: Mark Harris


Mail*LinkÆ SMTP               RE>Royal Whims

Greetings to Stefan li Rous;


> Just what is the difference between candle snuffers and candle

> extinguishers? I can see them applying to the same thing.


The first thing to remember is that you had to trim wicks to keep them

burning brightly -- modern wicks are a post-period (I think) invention in

which one of the strands of wick is pulled tighter than the other strands

when they're plaited together, so that when it burns it pulls the top of the

wick into the flame where it is burnt away.  Cunning invention, since before

it was developed the wicks would just get longer and longer and the flame got

floppier and smokier and less efficient.  (Have you ever played with the

settings on a bunsen burner?  It's that sort of principle.)


Snuffers are shaped like scissors, and trim the wick.  They can also be used

to put the candle out.  Extinguishers are generally shaped like witches' hats

and simply put the candle out.  These days you'll often find extinguishers

called snuffers, and the phrase "to snuff a candle" means "to put it out" to

most people.  One of those pieces of trivia...


Anyway, how are things going in Texas?  





Jennifer Geard                         bloodthorn at sloth.equinox.gen.nz

Christchurch, New Zealand



From: ekenny at gandalf.ca (Erin Kenny GMSI)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Candle making recipe wanted

Date: 8 Dec 1994 10:16:53 -0500

Organization: Gandalf Data Ltd.


crouchet at eden.com (james crouchet) writes:


>Opus T. Penguin (rhkaloge at mtu.edu) wrote:

>: Does anyone have a recipe for candle wax?  I remember that it is more

>: than just melted parafin, but I can't remember what else.  Borox comes

>: to mind, don't know why.  Any recipe will do - I want to figure out

>: how to do it befor I try doing it in period.


>Actually, I have a period recipe that is much easier.


>Use the following:


>Bees' wax



>This will produce a good smelling, long, clean, bright burning candle

>that stays reasonably firm without the need to add stiffener.



>Remember that modern parafin is produced from oil (as in Texas Tea, black

>gold, etc.).  It is too soft for candles so you must add stiffener like

>poly-styrine or the like or they will wilt at temps over 80F and melt

>around 100 (like in your car). Of course, between the parafin and the

>plastic you get a flame that is much more orange (not as bright) and much

>smokier -- especially if you get too much plastic in it. That's before

>adding dye and/or scent...



>There may be more additives, formulas, etc. to address some of these

>problems (I'm no expert), but why not go with a period recipe when it is

so simple and has so many advantages?


Parafin is actually very easy to work with, and I have never had to use

any additives.  HOWEVER, it is made from REFINED oil, and was not used in



To make period candles, beeswax (mmmm, smells wonderful) and tallow (you know,

fat, ick, stinks ) were both used.  Beeswax cannot be easily used in moulds

because it binds itself to them, but is easily used for dipping or pouring.


Tallow is much cheaper, leading to chandlers laws being passed regulating

the percentage of a candle which could be tallow.  Tallow mixed with beeswax

provides a nice happy medium.  This makes the candle stronger, and the beeswax

disguises the smell of the tallow.


Also, buying "wicking" is not necessary.  It can be expensive, and I find the

metal cored ones silly and annoying.  Use fine cotton twine ( not too thick --

it should look like wicks ).  What ever you do, don't use a wick based on

animal hair (dog fur, wool, human hair) -- it doesn't burn well, and it will

make you think that tallow smells good.


Colouring and perfumes are of course optional.


Claricia (who knows it's hot work, but LOVES the smell of melting wax)



From: connect at aol.com (CONNECT)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Candle making recipe wanted

Date: 8 Dec 1994 21:20:30 -0500

Organization: America Online, Inc. (1-800-827-6364)


In article <3c7815$fgp at charm.gandalf.ca>, ekenny at gandalf.ca (Erin Kenny

GMSI) writes:


>Beeswax cannot be easily used in moulds because it binds itself to them,


Not so. I have only made beeswax candles, and I've used both plastic

and metal molds.


Rosalyn MacGregor of Glen Orchy

or Pattie Rayl of Cynnabar



From: - <crouchet at eden.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Candle making recipe wanted

Date: Fri, 9 Dec 1994 10:31:56 -0600

Organization: Adhesive Media, Inc.


On 8 Dec 1994, Erin Kenny GMSI wrote:


[...much deleted...]


> Parafin is actually very easy to work with, and I have never had to use

> any additives.  HOWEVER, it is made from REFINED oil, and was not used in

> period.


I suppose I can only go on my own experiences.  I live in central Texas.  

I have made parafin candles and they wilted (meaning they bent over to

form an upside down U shape) in the sun.  Candles left in a shoebox in

the top of a closet turned into a puddle. Candles left in a closed car

for an hour (while I set up camp) melted all over my feast basket.  I

tried this a couple of times with the same result.  I used Gulf Wax,

commonly available in grocery stores here. The only additive was a small

amount of dye (the kind that comes in small cubes of wax).  I got a book

on candlemaking from my local hobby-lobby and discovered stiffener and

the problem was solved. YMMV.


By the way, some of the stuff sold as "candle wax" of "candle making wax"

already has stiffener added.  Could this be what you got? Also, if you

live in Canada or Minnesota or someplace really cold (like the office I

work in) you may not have such problems. Here 85F is considered a comfy

temp. Summer days (summer is May thru September) are usually in the mid

90s with 100+ not uncommon.  


'Course, I still prefer bees' wax, which makes beautiful dip and molded

candles in my kitchen. I have used only flexable rubber molds so far. If

you have problems with molds, check the temperature of your wax.  You want

the bees' wax just a few degrees above melting so it will not melt the mold.

If you have problems with the wax solidifying too soon, raise the

temperature about 2 degrees F (or 1 degree C) at a time.  The wax is, of

course, completely reusable.


Good luck (and good smelling candles)!



         |  Savian Jerome Dore de Valence |  crouchet at eden.com      |


         |     Bryn Gwlad, Ansteorra      |      Austin, Texas      |




From: sherman at trln.lib.unc.edu (dennis r. sherman)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Candle making recipe wanted

Date: 7 Dec 1994 14:03:45 GMT

Organization: Triangle Research Libraries Network


Greetings to the Rialto from Robyyan.


Angus (rhkaloge at mtu.edu (Opus T. Penguin)) writes:

>Does anyone have a recipe for candle wax?  I remember that it is more

>than just melted parafin, but I can't remember what else.  Borox comes

>to mind, don't know why.  Any recipe will do - I want to figure out

>how to do it befor I try doing it in period.


Plain, simple paraffin will work just fine for modern candlemaking.  The

"borox" you're thinking of is probably the pickling solution of boric

acid often used on modern candle wicks -- but plain cotton string of an

appropriate diameter for the size candle you're making will work.  Or if

you're doing moden candles anyway, head down to a craft store and buy

braided candle wicking.


You might also be thinking of the chemical wax hardeners sometimes added

to candle wax to make them last longer.  Again, not necessary, but if you

want to use it, ask at the craft store.


When you're ready to try historical methods, you'll want to use beeswax

if you're making rich people's candles, tallow if not.  (Tallow is

purified animal fat -- best is from mutton, next is cow or ox.  *Don't*

use lard!)  And if you want to be entirely correct, use a wick of twisted

cotton. Braided candle wicks weren't invented until 1827.


For more than you probably want to know about candles, candlesticks,

lamps, lanterns, and lighting in general, see the Compleat Anachronist

from July '93 (I don't recall the number, sorry) on exactly that topic.

If you're seriously interested in lighting, the bibliography alone is

worth it.  Disclaimer:  I'm prejudiced, I wrote it... :-)


Robyyan Torr d'Elandris  Kapellenberg, Windmaster's Hill  Atlantia

Dennis R. Sherman                 Triangle Research Libraries Network

dennis_sherman at unc.edu       Univ. of North Carolina - Chapel Hill



From: connect at aol.com (CONNECT)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Candle making recipe wanted

Date: 11 Dec 1994 23:20:25 -0500

Organization: America Online, Inc. (1-800-827-6364)


Bob.Upson at f333.n142.z1.fidonet.org (Bob Upson) writes:

>>Bees' wax


>Nice if you can get it...  Too, damn expensive for me... :(

Another not so: I get beeswax for $2.50/pound directly from a bee keeper

here in Ann Arbor. He's already melted and formed it into chunks for me

too, so all I have to do is melt it.  You can make quite a number of

candles from just a relatively small amount of beeswax.


Rosalyn MacGregor of Glen Orchy

Pattie Rayl of Cynnabar



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: reply to candle making r

From: david.razler at compudata.com (David Razler)

Date: Sun, 11 Dec 1994 01:23:00 -0500

Organization: Compu-Data BBS -=- Turnersville, NJ -=- 609-232-1245


Aleksandr the Traveller sends greetings to Lord Ruedy MacChristian, whose

e-mail address is too long for WaveRider:



      This morning we lit the period tallow/beeswax time candle you sold me

two wars ago. Despite the tallow, the aroma was of honey and a delightful

addition to my table at our Mistletoe Revel.


      Also, despite hours of burning, it seems I still have a time candle.

The Pringle's Can size is not just dramatic, it seems to act more like a

one-notch-per-day candle than a one-notch-per-hour. I am absolutely NOT



                            [david.razler at compudata.com]



From: curt.owings-christian at syncomm.com (CURT OWINGS-CHRISTIAN)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: reply to candle making recipe wanted

Date: Fri, 09 Dec 94 01:35:00 -0400

Organization: Synergy Online, Parsippany, NJ (201) 331-1797




       This is Ruedy MacChristian from MAGICANDLE(an expert).  I

believe that the recipe that you want is 67% paraffin to 33% stearic

acid. Or 2/3 by weight paraffin to 1/3 by weight of stearic acid.

Stearic acid is chemically reduced animal fat.  It can be purchesed in

any craft shop that sells candlemaking supplies.  I believe we are the

cheapest arround.  $2.00 a pound plus shipping.  email me at

curt.owings-christian at syncomm.com if you are interested.

       The borax was used to treat the wick.  DO NOT just use cotton

sting it smokes!!!!!!  I can provide you with a method of making your

own wicks.  I also have information about period candles and period




       Poly-styrine is currently being investigated because when it is

burned it seams to give off carcinogens.  Be careful.


       A much easier meathod of cleaning beeswax comb is to boil it in

water. When it is all mealted strain it out with a metal strainer to

remove the dead bees and other large durbis.  Let it boil in the water

for 15 minutes.  Turn it off and let it troughly harden.  Remove it from

the pan and scrape the junk off the top and bottom of your cake.

Running it under hot water will soften it up for eaiser removal.  Boil

it in water again for 15 minutes and repeat the above steps.


       I have a pamplet about period candlemaking for those who are

interested. History, beeswax and tallow are included.  Send your

request via email.




       Although plain cotton string is closer to period than the candle

wick there are problems that develope.  It usually smokes and needed to

be snuffed(trimmed so that the flame does not get too large).

       The wax hardeners like stearic acid ARE needed if you do not

want your candle to melt.

       I disagree that mutton tallow is the best.  I maintain that

beef is better.  Although sheep tallow is slightly harder it has a

slight smell to it whereas beef(If properly processed) does not.


       The Complete Anachronist of July 93 only had one and a half

pages on the how to of candlemaking.  It was more a scolarly work than

an instruction manual.  I have also a phamplet about basic candlemaking

if any are interested.  It is a how to manual.


       I would like to get in touch with you though so we can discuss

the translations of the waxchandlers charters of England.


REMEMBER people this is my mundane job.  I am a candlemaker in mundania.

I have only completed one quarter of my research project but I have

plenty of information.


Lord Ruedy MacChristian


P.O. Box 5904

Parsippany, NJ   07054-6904




From: cipherjock at aol.com (CipherJock)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: CRAFT: Re: Candle making recipe wanted

Date: 12 Dec 1994 16:40:27 -0500

Organization: America Online, Inc. (1-800-827-6364)


In article <D0KK3L.G39 at network.com>, steve.mercer at network.com (Steve E.

Mercer) writes:


I also like making candles with the canning paraffin - but I add a Tbs of

fried bacon grease per cup of wax.  Wonderful smell and looks period !!!



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Candle making recipe

From: david.razler at compudata.com (David Razler)

Date: Wed, 14 Dec 1994 01:13:00 -0500

Organization: Compu-Data BBS -=- Turnersville, NJ -=- 609-232-1245


C >In article <b6b_9412111943 at blkcat.fidonet.org>,

C >Bob.Upson at f333.n142.z1.fidonet.org (Bob Upson) writes:


>>Bees' wax


>Nice if you can get it...  Too, damn expensive for me... :(

C >Another not so: I get beeswax for $2.50/pound directly from a bee keeper

C >here in Ann Arbor. He's already melted and formed it into chunks for me

C >too, so all I have to do is melt it.  You can make quite a number of

C >candles from just a relatively small amount of beeswax.


C >Rosalyn MacGregor of Glen Orchy

C >Pattie Rayl of Cynnabar


I agree wholeheartedly with Lady Rosalyn.


There are plenty of beekeepers out there (check under "honey" in your phone

book if it doesn't list beekeepers) and will generally not only sell you

beeswax at the price they charge any other person who comes to their yard,

but will also sell you fine honey at prices much cheaper than Golden

Blossom(tm) and often better, because they can offer it by the kind of

flower the nectar came from. And yes, blueberry honey tastes different from

orange blossom honey or clover honey. Pick your favorite.


                                    Aleksandr the Traveller

                                 [david.razler at compudata.com]



From: lorina.stephens at ambassador.com (Lorina Stephens)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: candles

Date: Tue, 13 Dec 1994 11:56:49 GMT

Organization: AMBASSADOR BOARD (519) 925-2642 V.32


Sorry to disagree with you about beeswax and moulds.  I deal with a

very reputable, award winning bee keeper who makes the most exquisite

candles. He uses a mould all the time for some of this candles.

Simply uses olive oil or some for of vegetable oil for a resist.  No

problem. He does the same thing to make cakes of wax by using a plain

ordinary muffin tin coated with PAM.  

Leonora daLiliaceae



Subject: Re: Candle making recipe

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: kwilliam at kbbs.com

Date: Sat, 24 Dec 94 16:40:46 EST

Organization: KBBS - Internet & Files via Satellite  


*Can you recommend a source for tallow?


Just go to your local supermarket butcher department and ask them for

some beef fat, preferably from the area around the kidneys of the cow.

You might get some strange looks, and a question about what you're going

to do, but hey, education is what we're all about, right?  :)


I once asked my local supermarket for a pound of suet (different stuff).

The butcher's apprentice had to ask his supervisor what I was talking

about....ah, the days of home-made plum pudding are rare indeed. They

gave me a hand-cut piece of suet trimmings, wrapped and everything, for

free as they considered it offal.


ciorstan macAmhlaidh, CHA, AoA

Barony of Lyondemere

Kingdom of Caid



From: kwilliam at kbbs.com (1/3/95)

To: markh at sphinx

RE>Candle making recipe


Actually, my experiences with tallow and sources thereof are in regards

to soapmaking rather than candlemaking.  Tallow is an essential part of

a soapmaker's work as well.


I can refer you to two books on finding tallow and preparing it, however

since these are soapmaker's references rather than candler's, they're

going to lead you to a specific area then leave you dangling, so to



Soap, making it, enjoying it;  Ann Bramson ISBN 0-911104-57-7, Workman

Publishing Company.


The Art of Soapmaking, Merilyn Mohr; ISBN 0-920656-03 X


The second book goes into far more detail.


Tallow is rendered beef fat, lard is pork fat.  Sheep fat, according to

Mohr, makes a brittle product so tallow is preferred over the other two.

Tallow has to be rendered before use either for soap or candles, which

means it's melted and purified by straining.  Both books give detailed

instructions on rendering your own tallow.  Your're on your own from

there.... :)

I've never made candles other than with paraffin and beeswax.  I've

always read that tallow-dips are smoky and usually a tad smelly-- hence

the preference for expensive (in period beeswax was a scarcer source

than tallow) wax.  Paraffin is a petroleum by-product and hence is

definitely OOP.


I certainly hope this helps!  I live in West Los Angeles, so I got quite

a strange look when I asked for suet that one time!






From: ejcampbe at unity.ncsu.edu (Eric Jon Campbell)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Candlemaking and such

Date: 8 Feb 1995 20:29:11 GMT

Organization: College of Textiles, North Carolina State University


In article <3halsh$fn4 at newsbf02.news.aol.com>, connect at aol.com (CONNECT) writes:

|>Brigit Kaitlyn of Kells (Kelly Nunn) asks about buying beeswax.


|>Do yourself a big favor and buy it directly from any beekeepers you may

|>have in your area. (Buying it from candle suppliers is pretty expensive.)


AGREED on the buying it from the aviaries


ok from my modest knowledge on candlemaking there are three basic components to

period candlemaking

*a "rake" to hang  the candle wicks off of

   I have seen a period(not a refab) versiono which was a large hoop

   that hung from the ceiling. The wicks were hung off of dowels that

   protruded radially from the hoop.


*A dippper that enabled the chandler to pour the wax or tallow over the



*a large wax melting pan Very wide about four feet across

   this vaguely resembles a VERY large wok. the heated wax was kept in this


The dip method that everyone is familiar with is VERY inefficient since one

   would need to have several gallons of wax heated in a pot and the chandler

   would not be able to use all of the wax


The wicks on the hoop successively have wa poured over them creating layer

   after layer

The drippings are caught by the pan (the hoop nees to be a little narrower

   than the pan) when

As the candles are rotated around they are allowed to cool so by the time

   the chandler has done all of the other candles the candles the wax on

   the candles that have done a full rotation are hard enough to accept

   another layer




        a double boiler usually keeps the wax from getting way too hot


I hope this has been some help

please check out our mosaic page at


or email me at

ejcampbe at eos.ncsu.edu if you have any questions

within a month there will be a more informative page on this


In Service




From: CAR at ECL.PSU.EDU (Claire A Rutiser)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: candle making

Date: 9 Feb 1995 01:11:02 GMT

Organization: Penn State Engineering Computer Lab


I have two comments on the recent candle-making discussions.


1) To get a _really_ cheap source of wax, save up the stubs of your old

candles. Get your friends to do this too.  These can all be recycled,

and you get a lot of interesting colors.  Don't worry about the wicks

or any other debris present- it will end up at the bottom (see part 2)

Yes, beeswax is nicer, but free wax is good enough for me.


2) Wax floats on water.  You can dip candles using just a pound or

so of wax, and you don't need to look for a tall and skinny vessel and

a double boiler setup.  Just get a big enameled canning pot (20+ quarts?)

fill it up with water most of the way, and put the wax in when it starts

to get warm.  You can put almost 100% of the wax onto you candles.


Safetly Info:

1) run the exhaust fan on your stovetop, wax fumes are not good to breathe.

2) don't cook in the wax pot.


        -Ragnhild the monier

shire of Nithgaard, Aethelmearc, kingdom of the east

CAR at ecl.psu.edu



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: aw504 at FreeNet.Carleton.CA (Peter Thorn)

Subject: Re: Candle wicks

Organization: The National Capital FreeNet

Date: Fri, 7 Apr 1995 01:46:30 GMT


In a previous posting, Opus T. Penguin (rhkaloge at mtu.edu) writes:

> I thought I was almost ready to make my first attempt at candle

> making this weekend when I noticed something - I forgot a wick.  

> Can anyone recomend something that makes a good wick, or how to

> make one?  Right now, I'm not to worried about it being period,

> I just want to get off the ground here.


If you are not concerned about "period" wicks then you should be able to

purchase candlewicking at any craft store.  It's essentially a wire (of

magnesium, I believe) in a woven cotton cover.


I have found that store-bought candlewicking works best when waxed.  The

end that sticks out of the candle doesn't seem to burn properly unless it

is waxed.


Unfortunately, I cannot suggest any period wick materials.  I suppose

rushes (you know, like for rush-lights) might be one possibility, but I

really don't know.


CAVEAT LECTOR   ********************************   NEMO NISI FORTIS SUPEREST

Peter Thorn, The OwlsBurrow                        aw504 at freenet.carleton.ca



From: zarquon at cutlass.pgh.pa.us (Michael Greenstein)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Candle wicks

Date: 7 Apr 1995 06:50:41 GMT

Organization: Pittsburgh Community Network


Opus T. Penguin (rhkaloge at mtu.edu) wrote:

: I thought I was almost ready to make my first attempt at candle

: making this weekend when I noticed something - I forgot a wick.  

: Can anyone recomend something that makes a good wick, or how to

: make one?  Right now, I'm not to worried about it being period,

: I just want to get off the ground here.


Try unravelling pure cotton string until you have only a few strands to a

bundle, and braiding three bundles together.  The tighter the braid, the

slower your candle will burn.


There is a way to improve your wick by treating it with a solution of salt

and borax, and sealing the result in hard wax before pouring the candle,

but for the details you would probably better served to either contact

the Chandlers Guild directly, or do a little basic research.


                              - Michael Lackbitter

                              Barony Marche of the Debatable Lands

                              (for now) Principality of Aethelmearc


From: hallock at banyan.com (Sue Hallock)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Candle wicks

Date: Fri, 14 Apr 1995 13:21:47

Organization: Banyan Systems Inc.


aw504 at FreeNet.Carleton.CA (Peter Thorn) writes:

>If you are not concerned about "period" wicks then you should be able to

>purchase candlewicking at any craft store.  It's essentially a wire (of

>magnesium, I believe) in a woven cotton cover.


You can also buy commercial wicks without the metal core. They burn slightly

faster and if you are making poured candles (as opposed to dipped) you need to

weight the end of the wick with something so that it the wick is straight.  


Modern wicks (should be able to get them at any large craft store) are pretty

much the same as period wicks.  They are made of braided cotton threads --

only difference is la machine made these.


Sue Hallock, Tech Writer, Banyan Systems

email: hallock at banyan.com



From: mwolfe at nwlink.COM (Michael Wolfe)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: RE: Candlemaking...

Date: 26 Sep 1995 14:37:12 -0400

Organization: The Internet


Date: Tue, 26 Sep 1995 00:47:58 GMT

From: Rhianwen <rhianwen at tcd.net>

Organization: The Computer Den, Inc. Evanston WY

Subject: Candlemaking...


I've recently found a local supplier of raw beeswax, and am having

great success making molded, honey-scented candles.  I would, however

like to try making hand-dipped tapers, but have no idea what kind of

equipment, etc. I'd need, or how to make them.  Could someone please

help me out?


Thank you!


Rhianwen Morgaine ferch Aelhaearn

Principality of Artemisia

Kingdom of Atenveldt



Greetings from Rauthulfr;


In Madrone there is a company who has everything a person needs to hand-dip

candles. (Actually the only thing you will HAVE to buy since you have the

wax is square brade wick.)



1418 NW 53rd. ST

Seattle, WA 98107

1 (800) 888-WICK


There are three considerations in hand dipping.  The size of the candles you

intend to make will determine the size of the wax you will use.  The

temperature of the wax you will be dipping at.  And the amount of time you

leave the candles in the wax, as well as time hanging between dipping. (If

the candle is dipped too often or left in the wax too long, it will begin to

melt rather than build up!)


The temperature to shoot for is about 150-160 F.  The equipment needed is:

A large pot with water (a double boiler will work)

A small pot with wax in it which is warmed in the large pot with water

Square braided wick.  this is the stuff which looks like string, it is not

the wick with the lead which is used for molded candles.

a hanger to hang the candles as they cool

a surface to roll the candles on to shape them during the dripping process.


Dip the wick first to load it with wax, then straighten it and hang it to

dry. A good way to do this is to bend clothes hanger into a "U" shape and

hang an equal amount of wick down either side.  This will let you dip two

candles at once.  Allow the candles to hang long enough begin to harden.

After a while some long really flexible candles will begin to form.

periodically place them on a hard flat surface and roll them with the flat

of your hands to help shape them.

If you give the folks at Pourette a call they have good directions on the

process, if you cannot find them at a craft-shop near home.

(Rauthulfr Runameistari)

[insert really catchy tag-line here]

Canton of Wyebridge, Barony of Madrone, Kingdom of An Tir



From: david_key at vnet.ibm.com (Dave Key)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: History of Candlemaking

Date: 13 Sep 1996 07:51:57 GMT

Organization: IBM UK Laboratories Ltd.


In <199609130555.PAA28612 at avalon>, splaing at mr.qld.GOV.AU (S Laing) writes:

>I am attempting to obtain a book/books on the subject of the History of

>Candlemaking (esp. molded candles) for a friend's Christmas gift.


Can't really help much ... but there is an English Law (Henry VI I think) which

deals with deceipts in the manufacturing of wax candles & figures ... so they

do appear to have been fairly popular as religious items in c15th England.






From: shermand at mindspring.com (Dennis R. Sherman)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: History of Candlemaking

Date: Sat, 14 Sep 1996 00:59:47 GMT

Organization: MindSpring Enterprises


Marion FoxPaws wrote:


>I am attempting to obtain a book/books on the subject of the History of

>Candlemaking (esp. molded candles) for a friend's Christmas gift.


>Would anyone be able to advise me on available titles (including Author & ISBN)?




As of about two years ago, when I wrote a Compleat Anachronist about

lighting, lamps, lanterns, candles, and candleholders, there were no

books on the history of candlemaking.  Many books about candlemaking

have a few paragraphs of history, but no more.  There is a four volume

history of one of the London candlemaking guilds (there's two -- one

for wax candles, one for tallow candles), but that probably isn't what

you want, and I doubt you could find if for sale.


I'm not flexing my ego here, but your best bet might well be to order

the Compleat Anachronist.  At the very least, you'll find a lengthy

bibliography which might give you more ideas.  Just be warned that few

of the sources I used are currently in print.


There's a candlemaker who is sometimes here on the Rialto, who might

have other suggestions.  Ruedy MacChristian -- if you're here, speak



Robyyan Torr d'Elandris                     Dennis R. Sherman

Kapellenberg, Windmaster's Hill, Atlantia   Chapel Hill, NC

robyyan at mindspring.com                      dennis.sherman at mindspring.com

http://www.unc.edu/~sherman/robyyan.html    http://www.unc.edu/~sherman/



From: mark Hendershott <crimlaw at JEFFNET.org>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Tallow Candles

Date: Mon, 23 Dec 1996 15:39:54 -0800

Organization: Oregon Public Networking


Tristan Meisters wrote:

> Hello All! I am not really too sure if this is an apropriate question for

> this forum but I will give it a try anyway . I have read that it has only

> been in the last century that wax candles have been widely used so I

> thought that this question may be of some interest to this forum . I have

> a fair amount of beef and pork fat in my freezer (from the fall

> butchering), and I wanted to put it to use , so I thought that I might

> make so tallow candles . However , I can not find any instructions on

> doing this anywhere . Do you just have to melt it down in the oven and

> then pour it into your dishes , or is there more to it than that ? Also ,

> does one add anything to the fat , or is it just straight fat ? Any

> instruction in this area would be most appreciated . Thanks in advance .


> cheers Tristan

> --

> Tristan Meisters

> Email rmeister at MTS.Net


Tallow reportedly STINKS.  Beeswax was an important part of our trade as

in the Hansa.  Mostly out of Russia and Eastern Europe to the West.  I

believe it went mostly, if not exclusively to the church and

upperclass. The poor folks used tallow, oil or went to bed early.


Simon von der Eisenhandlung



From: mdskamaya at aol.com (MDSKAMAYA)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Tallow Candles

Date: 23 Dec 1996 18:20:00 GMT


Well Tristan, you hit the nail on the head.  Rendering fat into tallow is

a nasty smelly job, but rather easy.  First it helps if the fat is ground.

This will make the fat melt down quicker.  Put the fat into a large pot

and melt slowly over a low heat.  As the fat melts, the little bits of

meat, and tissue will cook and become visible.  Once all the fat has been

reduced and simmered, pour through a fine strainer to collect all the bits

of meat.  Put the melted fat into an open container and allow to cool in

the refrigirator for a day or so.  As the tallow sets up water will

seperate out, and you will be left with a flat piece of tallow floating on

a layer of water.  This block of tallow can be broken ip and re-melted to

make candels.  

I would suggest using beef fat, as pork makes a softer tallow.  Tallow

candles actualy burn rather poorly.  They are smoky and messy.  Bees wax

or other additives can be included to improve the burn time and cut down

on the smoke.  


Good Luck  - Marcus



From: Andrew Tye <atye at efn.org>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Tallow Candles

Date: Mon, 23 Dec 1996 16:33:07 -0800

Organization: Oregon Public Networking


On Mon, 23 Dec 1996, Tristan Meisters wrote:

> I thought that I might make so tallow candles . However , I can not find

> any instructions on doing this anywhere . Do you just have to melt it

> down in the oven and then pour it into your dishes , or is there more to

> it than that ? Also, does one add anything to the fat , or is it just

> straight fat ? Any instruction in this area would be most appreciated .


Ivar here.


The best capsule history & how-to I have found in regard to pre-industrial

lighting is an article in "The Book of Buckskinnig IV" published by

Muzzleloader Magazine.  (These books are compliations of how-to articles

from said magazine.  I have found them carried by Tandy Leather and most

black powder bookstore/sutlers.)


Unfortunately, my copy is currently loaned out so I cannot give you the

author or provenance.  However, I can say I found the article pretty

thourough for fourty illustrated pages.  It covers rushlights,

mediterranean clay oil lamps, grease lights, candles, (both dipped & cast

- using tallow, beeswax, bayberry wax, & parafin wax), twisted & braided

wicks, additives, and much more about lamp improvements in the 19th C.


What I have found it most useful for is making candles.  The author

provides good information on techniques, temperatures, and benefits &

disadvantages of different fats, waxes, & methods.  Using it, I've

experimented with several methods and eventually settled on casting a

50/40/10 beeswax/parafin/steric acid (tallow derivitive) 6" candle.  When

aged at least 6 months, these will burn for about 10 hours.  Making

candles has become my standard winter evening activity.  


I hope this is of some use.


Ivar Hakonarson

Adiantum, An Tir.



From: david.razler at worldnet.att.net (David M. Razler)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Tallow Candles

Date: Tue, 24 Dec 1996 01:08:49 GMT

Organization: AT&T WorldNet Services


mark Hendershott <crimlaw at JEFFNET.org> wrote:


| Tallow reportedly STINKS.  Beeswax was an important part of our trade as

| in the Hansa.  Mostly out of Russia and Eastern Europe to the West.  I

| believe it went mostly, if not exclusively to the church and

| upperclass.  The poor folks used tallow, oil or went to bed early.


I know that tallow candles *reportedly* stink. But I also know that a mixture

of 50-50 raw beeswax and tallow makes a wonderful candle that smells like

honey and burns slowly and has only one minor problem.


I have a three-year-old reproduction period time candle (made for me by the

good folks of Magicandle during their first Pennsic) of those materials. It is

an awful time candle, in that while marked in hours, it would be more

appropriately marked in days. But it is a delight to break out and burn at an



The minor problem is my fear of tallow, or more accurately, tallow turned

rancid. The candle may have only lasted this long because I keep it

refrigerated when not in use.


On beeswax: purified beeswax is light yellow and, while still sticky and easy

to work, bears no scent or flavor remenicent of its origin. Crude beeswax,

dark gold in color, still contains sufficient propilisis<sp? I don't have a

bee book handy, the natural varnish produced by bees> to make it smell

wonderful when used in a candle. I suspect that all traces of honey are washed

away during production.


On animal fat with paraffin: I once purchased some inexpensive imported

scented candles which burned with a rank odor - turns out they were made of

this mixture. I have no idea how old they were when purchased.




David M. Razler

david.razler at worldnet.att.net



From: William Osterheim <Polydore at worldnet.att.net>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Tallow Candles

Date: 25 Dec 1996 11:39:39 GMT


Beef tallow is supposed to work well, but stay away from the pork! It is

much too soft and smells bad when burned. Sheep is supposed to be best.


There is a small booklet callec "Makin' Candles" sold by


Jas. Towsend & Son, INc.

133 North First Street

PO Box 415

Pierceton, IN 46562

(219) 594-5852


It is a small book, but with the information you should need.

They also have a few other things good for our period, such as horn combs

and some feast gear, though they are mostlygeared toward 1700-1800s era.


Polydore Pike



From: Tim Beck <timbeck at ix.netcom.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: medieval candles--??

Date: Mon, 03 Feb 1997 06:21:59 GMT


> And I have a candle mold that does not come apart.  It makes four tapered

> candles at a time, arranged 2 x 2.  My mother has a similar mold, that

> makes eight candles at a time, arranged 2 x 4.  In both cases, the molds


A good single shot mold is a Pringle's (R) can.  You make a nice big candle once or twice (if you buy two cans) and you don't have the investment factor that you have with a mold.  Another thought, soapstone would be nice to experiment with for molds but it runs about $2./lb and you would need about 10lbs.  





From: Katherine Penney <katex at teleport.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: medieval candles--??

Date: Mon, 03 Feb 1997 13:40:21 -0800


Tim Beck wrote:

> A good single shot mold is a Pringle's (R) can.  You make a nice big candle >once or twice (if you buy two cans) and you don't have the investment factor >that you have with a mold.  Another thought, soapstone would be nice to >experiment with for molds but it runs about $2./lb and tou would need about >10lbs.


> Timothy


Shhh! That's a secret!!!  I've also used the PLASTIC frozen orange

juice containers, they have a neat bezel on the top...





From: tigranes at aol.com (Tigranes)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: medieval candles--??

Date: 4 Feb 1997 03:08:54 GMT




One of the best articles on period lighting is in the Book of Buckskinning

IV, "Lighting the Primitive Camp" by George D. Glenn.  It has info on oil

and grease lamps, and candles and candlemaking.  Excellent source sited.


I have a tin mold, and use it often.  I use 100% beeswax and I have a

devil of a time getting these buggers out.  I talked to a beekeeper about

it and she told me it's a common problem with beeswax.  Her

recommendation: clean the mold thoroughly with mineral spirits (paint

thinner) then lube with a little dishwashing liquid before pouring your

wax. I use a 20 gauge shotgun cleaning wad to clean the mold chambers,

and lemon Joy to lube.  This has worked for me.  


Wicks in period were made of twisted fibers, whereas today's wicks are

braided. Modern wick need much less attention while burning.  



Date: Fri, 17 Jul 1998 17:57:23 -0400

From: renfrow at skylands.net (Cindy Renfrow)

Subject: SC - tallow candles - OT


>From Plat's Delights for Ladies, 1609:


39. A Delicate Candle for a Ladies Table.

Cause your duch Candles to bee dipped in Virgin wax, so as their last coat

may bee meerly wax:  and by this meanes you may carry them in your hand

without melting, and the sent of the tallow will not break thorow to giue

offence: but if you would haue them to resemble yellow wax-candles, then

first let the tallow be coloured with Turmerick boyled therein, and

strained: and after your Candles haue beene dipped therein to a sufficient

greatnesse, let them take their last coat from yellow wax:  this may be

done in a great round Cane of tinplate, hauing a bottome, and being

somewhat deeper than the length of your candles:  and as the waxe spendeth,

you may still supply it with more.



renfrow at skylands.net



Date: Mon, 24 Aug 1998 18:04:07 -0400

From: rmhowe <magnusm at ncsu.edu>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: period candle making


Wax Unrefined - - - $5.00 / pound,     ($4.00 / pound, over 3 pounds)

   Refined - - - $5.50 / pound,     ($4.25 / pound, over 3 pounds)


To place an order or ask questions, write us at cstlmark at fred.net

or call us toll free at (888) 335-6464





Off their webpage.


Magnus, unassociated in anyway with this business.



Date: Mon, 24 Aug 1998 20:40:07 -0500

From: Jeane Watson <stanzi at home.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: period candle making


Kristi Kelly wrote:

> I am looking for period candle making tips.  We have a copy of the

> Creative Anacronist, but we wonder if anyone has any tips for us?

> Also, if anyone has a good source for beeswax?

> Elspeth of Wye


If you live in the US, a very good source for beeswax is through the

your local Agricultural Extension Office (look in the yellow pages under

city/county government).  If not in the US, there is probably some

organization that is similar.  The Ag Exchange office keeps a list of

local beekeepers because local farmers request them all the time.  They

should have many people for you to contact.


Another good source is through a local university that has an

Agriculture College.  Most likely the school will have beehives and

oftentimes will sell off the wax (usually uncleaned) for little or no



I was lucky to find a beekeeper who was very friendly and wanted to

share much information about the beekeeping trade and even let me

"suit-up" and tour his hives.  He kept his hives most for farmer utility

and honey and didn't want to mess with the wax cleaning.  So he sold his

wax dirt cheap.  You will find that beeswax prices will vary upon the

color, and whether or not it is cleaned.  I found beeswax locally for

around $1.50 - $2.00 per pound uncleaned.  The cost for pre-cleaned was

about $2.50-3.50 per pound.  Keep in mind that hives are only cleaned

certain times of the year usually.  So don't be too disappointed if you

have to wait a little while.


If economics are a concern, purchase the unclean beeswax and clean it

yourself. It can be a little messy, but is very easy. Make sure you

have some newsprint on your countertops and a dropcloth on the floor

because you will "drip".


The best way to clean beeswax is to melt the beeswax in small amounts

over a double boiler (do not place your pot directly on the heat as

beeswax is more sensitive to heat).  To heat the wax, I use an old

coffee can or pot that I do not plan to use for cooking.


Strain the wax in stages.  The first stage is to strain the wax through

a wire mesh colinder to remove any large bee body parts (and there will

be many).  Second, reheat the wax and strain through the wire mesh lined

with several layers of cheesecloth. After the second straining your wax

should look pretty good.  If it still looks a little gritty, reheat the

wax and strain a third time.


If you do not plan to make your candles right away, you can pour the

clean wax into to cake pans, pie pans, or bread pans lined with clear

plastic wrap.  Allow to cool completely overnight or several hours.

Once cooled, you can remove your "blocks" and store in a cool dry

place. The wax is very fragrant, so I like to store my wax in the



I will allow others to instruct on period techniques in candlemaking as

I am not well versed in this area.  To make candles for myself, I

basically use the methods in modern candlemaking books.


THL Constanza C.X. de Valencia

Kingdom of Meridies/Shire Glaedenfeld

Nashville, TN



Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998 10:37:38 -0500

From: "I. Marc Carlson" <LIB_IMC at centum.utulsa.edu>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: period candle making


<"Gina L. Hill" <hekav at gte.net>>

>Please do let us all know how this turns out!  I have read *not good*

>things about tallow candles...drip terribly, smell, melt very easily,

>and so on...so'll I'll be curious to know how it goes.  Good luck!


Some of the problems with them are cleared up if you make the candle

in something, like a cup.  As for the smell and the smoking, that's

just the price they payed for burning tallow :)





Date: Wed, 12 Aug 1998 00:17:23 +0200

From: Christer.Romson at abc.se (Pia Romson)


Subject: Re: period candle making


>Gabrielle of Long-windedness wrote:reetings,

>---Basically you just roll the wax around the wick.

>       I know peopel who dip their own candles but I think they're nuts and it

>seems to require a lot of stuff --


With all due respect, my Lady, if your going to roll wax-candles you can as

well buy modern white candles as they look much more period. The normal

candle used by the burgeois was a white candle made of sheep- (or some other

animal I suppose) tallow. The dipped wax-candles was as I understand very

expensive and was used almost only by the church. The peasants had no candles

at all, they used tar-sticks. Sheets of beeswax is a totaly modern thing.


And it's not that hard dipping your own candles. See my other article for

instructions and try it with candle-grease first. And yes, tallow-candles

-do- drip a bit but not that much more than a wax-candle.


Ylva Ersdotter/Nordmark



Date: Wed, 26 Aug 1998 14:43:21 -0500

From: "I. Marc Carlson" <LIB_IMC at centum.utulsa.edu>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re:Tallow making???


<"Gina L. Hill" <hekav at gte.net>>

>Can you possibly tell us how to arrive at tallow, as and end product?

>I presume that one must render the animal fat or lard in usual manner...

>by boiling in water, etc....much as one would for a confit of goose/duck/pork,

>or what have you...but, is there some special "other step" involved??

>If not, don't you really just wind up with rendered lard?

>I'm curious...I may wish to try this at sometime.

>Perhaps you know of some reference material?  Any help would be



When I render tallow, I first boil the fat for an undetermined period

of time (usually until the odor changes).  Strain out the solid bits.

Let it settle and solidify.  Once it's cooled (I've been known to refrigerate

it to keep it hard enough for this), I pop out the tallow, scrape the gray/

brown junk from the bottom side.  Change out the water, toss in the tallow

again, and reboil it again, repeating it as long as it takes to get all

the water-soluable fats and crap to dissolve out of the tallow (*USUALLY*

three boilings does it for me).  When it's done, pack it in a jar.  Properly

rendered beef fat looks like solid milk, and won't go rancid (although it

will be a bit smelly for those who are sensitive to such things - hence,

my wife prefers me to keep the stuff refrigerated).


Some people tell me that you should boil a bit of rosemary into the tallow

as you are rendering it to keep it from going bad, but I have never found

this necessary.


Tallow can be used for candles, soap-making, lubricating small tool parts,

stuffing leather to make it water resistant, cooking, and so on.


Small note.  When boiling the stuff, don't turn your back on it.  It can

boil over with little (although sufficient if you aren't being a careless

twit) warning and set fire to your stove...  (been there, done that :) )





Date: Wed, 26 Aug 1998 18:19:37 +0000

From: Karen at stierbach.atlantia.sca.org (Larsdatter, Karen )

To: rmhowe <magnusm at ncsu.edu>, sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: period candle making


Magnus writes:

>   Everything I have ever read suggests that overheated wax is

> somewhat explosive. Imagine having hot globs stuck to your skin. Use

> a double boiler, or low heat it under a lamp in a bowl, and roll it

> flat then roll it around your wick. Yes, candles can be made that

> way. And it doesn't look modern. I used to pack molds for rtv

> castings with wax heated under a 100 volt lamp. It will heat the wax

> fairly quickly. The difference here is that you are not building up

> hot gases _under the wax_. Don't ever heat in a plain pan for this

> reason.


The setup I've been happiest with for home candle-dipping (this is

with just beeswax, no tallow):  tall metal pitcher, in which the wax

is placed.  Special wax thermometer, which tells me when it's the

right temperature for dipping candles as opposed to pouring the wax

for molds.  (The temperature ought to be a bit lower for dipping

than for pouring.)  The thermometer attaches via a clip to the inside

of the pitcher; it doesn't touch the side, and just goes into the wax

enough that the tip is submerged.  Entire rig placed inside a big pot

of water, which is heated on the stove.  Not so much water that the

wax-pitcher will float, but not so little that it'll all just boil



> I am not sure what you would lubricate your poured molds with.

> I do know that those folks who make clay pipes use banana oil.

> Nothing else seems to work for the authors I've read. I am under the

> impression that molds were rather late or after period, at least the

> ones that are made of tin and poured, but whatever works for you.


The earliest candle-molds were wooden; from what I've read, they were

invented in France in the 15th century.


> All the primitive demos I have seen have the wicks being dipped into

> melted wax. Then redipped after they cool. Usually done with a

> number of wicks on a stick at once.


I prefer to do mine one-at-a-time (but then and again, it'd be hard

to put a whole lot of wicks inside the wax pitcher at the same time).

Because I do the wicks folded in half (so as to get two candles

connected by the wick), I can then hang them on a rod to cool between



Hmm ... maybe I'll suggest that we do a candle-dipping night at one

of the upcoming Needlework Nights ... it's so lovely when the house

smells like beeswax!  :)


Karen Larsdatter



Date: Wed, 26 Aug 1998 22:24:01 -0500

From: "Malcolm Hostetler" <malcolmh at cse.unl.edu>

To: <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: Re: period candle making


I'm generally a lurker but since your talking about my favorite subject

I'll jump in.  I've listed below some of the source material on period

candle making I've read and used in A&S competitions and can describe some

of the processes I've experimented with for making wax and tallow candles.

Let me apologize for the length in advance, sorry.  Also if anybody is

interested in alternative lighting to candles and lamps email me and I'll go

through some of the experiments I've done along that direction.


M. Ilin

“Turning night into day, the story of lighting”,  Philadelphia J. B.

Lippincott Company, London, 1936.


Joseph F. Butler

“Candleholders in America 1650-1900, A comprehensive collection of American

and European Candle Fixtures used in America”, Crown Publishers, Inc., New

York, 1967


Donald M. Bailey

“Greek and Roman Pottery Lamps”, The Trustees of the British Museum, 1963


F. W. Robins

“The story of the lamp (and the candle)”, Oxford University Press, London

New York Toronto, 1939.


Dennis R. Sherman

“Domestic Lighting:  Candles, Lamps, and Torches in History”, The Complot

Anachronist #68, Society for Creative Anachronism, July, 1993.


If you can find a copy of the "The story of the lamp..." I recommend it

highly. I've not had great luck finding extant source material so I'm

always asking for more if somebody knows of any please please please let me



Beeswax Candles:

   Basically beeswax was to sticky to mold and to expensive to dip.  While

we can get good quality beeswax fairly cheap in large quantity today no such

period resource existed, particularly in early period.  Pure wax candles

were definitely reserved for high nobility and prominent church functions.

More common was a mix of wax and tallow.  There is still a church edict, I

believe passed in the late 1300's, in force mandating the percentage of

beeswax on certain church alters and holidays.  Molded candles originated

somewhere in France in the late 1400's and even then were used almost

exclusively for tallow.  The most common method, which is still used today,

of making beeswax candles is pouring.  In essence you have a copper

melting/catch pan at the edge of a large raised vertical wheel on which your

wicks are hung (see diagram below).  The wicks were predipped, straightened,

and hung on the wheel with loops on both ends of the wick.  As you turn the

wheel the wicks pass over the copper pan and can be flipped (this makes an

even thickness instead of the tapering you get with dipped candles) and then

wax is ladled over it.  By the time it comes around again the wax is

sufficiently hardened to flip and pour again.  I've tried this process many

times and while initially tricky it does work quite well.  I use extra

large/wide popcorn bins in a double boiler configuration with a simple

wooden hanging stand/brace over the top and a portable electric burner

(carefully marked so I know what temp I want) underneath.  With only a pound

of wax and some careful pouring I can easily make a candle 14 -16 inches

tall. With several pounds of wax I can make a whole row of them.


                        Side View

                             _________  - wheel

       candle  -      [          |

             pan -   (___)     |


Tallow Candles:

   I've also done several experiments with tallow so please allow me to

debunk some myths.  First, rendered tallow does not stink.  In fact it's

nearly odorless, even after being left out in the open for a long time.  The

stench most people associate with tallow is the unrendered kind (i.e. the

rotting meat fat in the bowl waiting to become tallow).  I have some

rendered tallow I made for an A&S entry last year that's been sitting out in

my kitchen since then and it smells just fine, if at all.  Second, it only

smokes so much if you aren't trimming the wick properly.  Tallow burns

faster than wax and is more prone to poor wick control, if you find it

smoking reduce the amount of wick showing.  This is a skill we've lost after

the advent of braided wicking in the late 1700's (I'll save that for a

different thread though ;-) ).  Third it makes a fantastic fuel source!  I

have made several simple unglazed pottery oil lamps modeled after an extant

16C Scottish bowl lamp, used linen or cotton wicking, and they work great.

I've had less success with using it for candles though.  Somebody made the

observation that it's like finely rendered lard and they weren't far off.

I've tried sheep and beef fat both alone and mixed.  The sheep fat makes a

slightly stiffer tallow but it doesn't burn as nicely, vice versa the beef

fat, so I recommend a mix.  After having made some 40-50 lbs. of the stuff

in a variety of ways and methods I've yet to find one using pure tallow that

sets up properly for dipping.  There is something I'm missing and I have no

idea what.  I'm going to try adding some lime (the chemical kind, not the

green fruit) in small quantities this weekend to a batch and see if that

assists the hardening.  Sand and pot ash are mentioned as ways to stiffen

the tallow but I've only ended up with sandy goo and grey gunk when I've

tried them.  Otherwise unless you live in a fairly cold climate tallow is

essentially useless for candlemaking, it simply won't harden sufficiently.

What does work is a beeswax and tallow mix using at least 1 part beeswax to

4 parts tallow.  Obviously for this process the dipping method is easier,

especially if your mass producing.  I have a picture of some Welsh Women

dipping tallow candles and there are easily 3-4 dozen dipping rods hanging

behind them probably with a dozen candles on each rod.  It's post period but

I can't image the technology or practice was far off period means.


Once again sorry for the length and if anybody can refer me to more period

references I'm always looking and I'd be very grateful!


Bran the Dark

Barony of Mag Mor




Date: Sat, 29 Aug 1998 19:56:33 -0700

From: Ted Hewitt <brogoose at pe.net>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: period candle making


If you want to have the look of hand dipped candles for far less

work, just dip store-bought candles and thicken them up a bit

by dipping them in hot wax colored to your preference.

Not period, but you can achieve a good effect.





Date: Sat, 29 Aug 1998 19:54:51 -0700

From: Ted Hewitt <brogoose at pe.net>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: period candle making


>Please do let us all know how this turns out!  I have read *not good*

>things about tallow candles...drip terribly, smell, melt very easily,

>and so on...so'll I'll be curious to know how it goes.  Good luck!

>-Eleanor of Leycestershyre


I would be interested to see if some of the wax hardeners would

work on tallow.  Definitely strain and purify the tallow before dipping

or molding the candles.  I once made a "bacon-fat" candle (many,

many years ago at Burro Creek War).  I was very proud of it, but it

was sooty, smokey and smelled bad.  When I wasn't looking my

compatriots threw it away.  They were quite self-congratulatory.





Subject: Re: Tallow

Date: Thu, 06 May 99 14:34:07 MST

From: "Crescentia _" <crescentia3 at hotmail.com>

To: "Mark.S Harris (rsve60)" <rsve60 at email.sps.mot.com>


Around the beginning of April, I posted to the ANST list for advice on a

tallow project for Experimental Archaeology.  You had expressed interest in

hearing about my results... so here they are, considerably condensed (and

yet it still manages to be lengthy). ^_^




I think the first thing I have to do is make a disclaimer of some kind--

these opinions/hypothesis are based upon only one experiment. Follow-up

experiments would be necessary to test their validity.  And I plan on doing

that... when I have time sometime this summer.


First of all, regarding the yield question. I got about half a pound of

tallow from 5 lbs' beef fat; I got 2.5 lbs' tallow from only 4.5 lbs. beef

fat.  The second quantity was a really nice, thick cake of tallow about 2.5

inches thick. Beneath it was a layer of gelatin.  There was nothing else--

no water, no slime, no nothing.  But the first quantity, the small one-- the

tallow came out looking very watery. There was a thin white slime on the

bottom of the tallow cake, which was only about a half-inch thick

(estimated, not measured). There was absolutely no geltatin present;

instead, there I had a bowlful of grayish-yellow water.  When  it comes to

amount of time refrigerated, amount of time spent being rendered, etc, the

processes were very much the same.  (I had three pots going, spaced at

one-hour intervals.)  The only difference that I can see is that for the

second pot, I was being distracted while straining out the water through the

cheesecloth before refrigeration. Because of that, it took me longer to

finish the process, and when I looked at the clock, I realized that if I

just waited a few more minutes, I could throw the third pots' worth of

liquid into the second bowl and safe on fridge space.  Now, the first bowl

went into the fridge almost immediately after being strained. But the second

bowl sat around for quite a while before being transferred.  Perhaps that

has something to do with it?


Secondly, regarding the smell.  The tallow itself had no really offensive

smell.  I took it to the chemistry lab where I had a friend, and we measured

out Sodium Hydroxide crystals to throw in there. (NaOH)  (Yes, it was done a

lot more precisely than I'm making it sound right now.)  I stuck a stirring

magnet in the bottom, left it one evening, and came back to collect my

tallow the next afternoon.  Needless to say, it *stank*.  It's an incredibly

difficult smell to describe-- the closest I can get to it is think back to

the smell of a room which houses a herp collection, where you have jars full

of isopropyl and formaldehyde preserving specimens.  Not particularly

pleasant!  I believe that the NaOH reacts unfavorably with the tallow and

creates the smell, and that it is not an intrinsic characteristic of the

tallow itself.  (The only other thing I added to it was water.)


Now, that's a third problem.  NaOH (which is the basic component of lye) and

water will react with tallow and harden it-- but it will do such a good job

of hardening it that the melting point will be raised too high and you won't

get a useful candle at all out of it. One, the substance itself will be dry

and crumbly, and two, it will require a flame hotter than you can produce to

melt the thing.  As an example, it took me three hours to melt a near-pound

of solidified tallow in a double boiler. It took me fifteen minutes to melt

a half-pound beeswax under similar conditions.  Don't forget to add the oil!

It will lower the melting point to reasonable temperatures.


The tallow-and-NaOH will smell very badly.  Time cuts down on it.  For some

strange reason, leaving them out overnight and letting the dew wash over

them also seemed to help me.  Maybe if you washed your candles...?  ^_^



Date: Mon, 9 Jul 2001 07:33:09 -0500 (CDT)

From: "Pixel, Queen of Cats" <pixel at hundred-acre-wood.com>

To: SCA-Cooks maillist <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] oil lamps


On Sat, 7 Jul 2001, Stefan li Rous wrote:

> Any proof that the rich actually burned beeswax candles in their

> homes? I was under the impression that most of the beeswax candles

> went for use in the churches.


Yes. As with many other things in period, if you could afford it, you

bought it, and more importantly, flaunted it. Dyer mentions, at some

point, how many pounds of wax a particular household was was using nightly

(which led to a friend of mine and I trying to figure out how well-lit the

hall was). I can look up the exact citation if you like--Dyer has moved

back into the bookshelf where it belongs, finally, and is no longer being

carted around in my briefcase. ;-)


Candles in period could be tallow, beeswax, or a mixture thereof. It is

interesting to note that unlike current fashion, medieval beeswax candles

were apparently refined as much as possible, to make them as white as

possible. Modern yellow beeswax candles are only accurate inasmuch as they

are made from beeswax, but they are not refined enough for medieval



Margaret FitzWilliam of Kent



Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2001 07:28:13 +0100

From: "Melanie Wilson Belgium" <MelanieWilson at bigfoot.com>

To: <sca-arts at raven.cc.ku.edu>

Subject: Re: "Period" candlesticks and chandeliers


> Someday, I'm going to try to make some tallow candles. Anyone can make

> ones out of beeswax. :-)


Tallow is pretty easy, but 100% melts like mad in even and English summer,

use at least 5% beeswax. Better yet use tallow for rushlights.





To: <steps at antir.sca.org>

Cc: <MedievalEncampments at yahoogroups.com>

From: "JulieR" <julesong at home.com>

Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2001 14:16:05 -0700

Subject: [MedEnc] RE: [STEPS] Tallow Candle "destructions"??


> Would anyone happen to have a 'recipe' for making

> candles from tallow?

> A friend on another (oop) list is going to be putting

> her hand to this, and is unsure what additives, etc.

> are necessary. I'd rather she didn't poison herself

> and family (we *hate* it when that happens!!(.


> Catherine


Here are some basic ones, but I'm sure there are better.  There was very

little to be found by doing a keyword search online.






>From http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/1225/nchase.html


TALLOW CANDLES -- For Summer Use. -- Most tallow, in summer, is more or less

soft and often quite yellow, to avoid both:


Take your tallow and put a little bees-wax with it, especially if your

bees-wax is dark and not fit to sell; put into a suitable kettle, adding

weak lye and gently boil, an hour or two each day for 2 days, stirring and

skimming well; each morning cutting it out and scraping off the bottom which

is soft, adding fresh lye (be sure it is not too strong) 1 or 2, or 3.

gals., according to the amount of tallow. The third morning use water in

which alum and saltpetre is dissolved, at the rate of 1 lb. each, for 30

lbs. of tallow ; then simmer, stir, and skim again ; let cool, and you can

take it off the water for use.


They may be dipped or run in moulds ; for dipping, allow two pounds for each

dozen candles.


Saltpetre and alum are said to harden lard for candles; but it can be placed

amongst the humbugs of the day. But I will give you a plan which is a little

shorter for hardening tallow . . .








Beef Tallow


Candle Wicking


Ground beef fat can be purchased at any meat market.


1. Melt the fat over low heat


2. Strain


3. To make candles: mix 1/3 parafin to 2/3 rendered beef fat.


Old fashion candle molds can be purchased at Fort Clapsop in Oregon.


To pour the wax make sure it's lukewarm. To dip candles tie wick onto a

pencil and dip, cool, dip, cool, until it's the size you want.



Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2002 12:37:52 -0500

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Re: candle wicks

From: Philip Lewis <flip+ at andrew.cmu.edu>


"DragonTamer" <sawallace at sbcglobal.net> writes:

>if you consume wick at same rate as wax, you have a


A candle flame is hollow, you have the wick saturated in liquid fuel

(wax/tallow/etc) then a small shell of vaporized fuel, then the flame.


Non braded wicks will stay relatively vertical and not burn very well

since they stay in a small chimney of wax vapor.


Braded wicks are what's known as "self consuming" They curl a little

to push the end of the wick into the cone of flame so that it burns

off at a rate regulated by the available fuel height (the pool at the

bottom of the wick) and capillary action.





Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2002 09:19:58 -0500

To: "SCA-Cooks maillist" <SCA-Cooks at ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Re: candle wicks

From: Philip Lewis <flip+ at andrew.cmu.edu>


"Mark.S Harris" <mark.s.harris at motorola.com> writes:

>Someday I'm finally going to get around to making some tallow candles.


not that difficult... make sure you get/use the hard suet otherwise the

candles tend to be a bit soft.  If you tell the butcher that the suet

is not for human consumption, you'll get a much better price. (if they

don't give it to you for free) Tallow doesn't really smell bad if

you've cleaned the lipid carefully. Tallow tends to be alot softer than

beeswax. Expect more dripage.


>Would the wicks be larger or smaller? More or less tightly twisted?

>Made of different size threads?


you can use a thinly twisted ribbon of linen or other cloth... pith,

or other natural fibers. Main thing is that it has some "body" to it

so that it doesn't flop over into the pool of wax.


Wick size depends on what you're trying to achieve.  if you want a

fast bright burning torch, use a larger wick.  if you want a long

steady burn, go a little smaller. For tapers, i'd just use a standard

size wick.


good luck and be safe,




Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2002 13:15:11 -0500

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

From: Philip Lewis <flip+ at andrew.cmu.edu>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] OT: candle wicks


"DragonTamer" <sawallace at sbcglobal.net> writes:

>have you guys seen what is available in wicks these days? I mean REALLY


nope... have never bought a wick... nor have i bothered to look.

always have made my own. :)


Get some all cotton utility twine, untwist it to get the single plys,

then braid three groups of 2 plys, or 3 plys for a larger wick.


If you want to cord/twist i'd go with 2 groups of 4.


mind you this is going to change from spool o spool... ;)


be safe,




From: Robyn.Hodgkin at affa.gov.au

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2002 14:02:22 +1100

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Candles


Stefan wrote:

Okay. In period about all you had for candles were beeswax and tallow.

Sometimes a mixture of both. The beeswax candles got used in the Church

and perhaps some of the wealthy folks. Everyone else got stuck with

the slightly more smoky and stinky tallow candles.


Just to note; very very slightly more stinky and not at all smokey tallow candles.


My friend Tanw heard that tallow candles were smokey and smelly.  He wondered if it was really true, and in true Tanw style decided to make some to find out*. Certainly I gather that the processing of the tallow was smelly in a kind of "lamby" fashion, but I can testify from my own experience that the finished candles burnt with a good clear smokeless flame, and you could only detect a smell if you got close to it. (ie. almost burn your nose close)


Tallow candles being smokey and stinky is a myth.



* that sense of curiosity is why Mr Nw (as he iis affectionately known) is now Master Nw. (pronouced sort of like Tahnoo; for short Mr Noo)



Date: Mon, 4 Feb 2002 10:31:42 -0500

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] OT: candle wicks

From: Philip Lewis <flip+ at andrew.cmu.edu>


"Dan Phelps" <phelpsd at gate.net> writes:

>Why untwist it? In any case why not lucette it.


The idea is to braid it (yes, it's a 19th century convention, but

makes for a less troublesome candle) , but if you braid three

untwisted pieces of the twine, you'll get a very large wick. the twine

tends to be very close to the proper number of plys by itself, so

untwisting then braiding gives you a fairly "standard size"

(reasonable size for tapers and small pillars) wick.


I've know people to use lucette cord for wicks. I've used corded

wicks, plaited ("common braid"), and round and square braids.

I've never done a study as to which is best.


more often than not, i just use some untreated (no salt/borax) 100%

natural fiber string off the "ball" for utility (vrs "pretty")






To: MedievalEncampments at yahoogroups.com

From: Tim Bray <tbray at mcn.org>

Date: Wed, 15 May 2002 10:17:55 -0700

Subject: Re: [MedEnc] Oil Lamps


>And the prize for the worst, very worst light I've ever seen goes to a

>motley collection of sheep-fat candles that I bought a few years back.

>These gutter and splutter, melt and burn down 10cm in about five minutes.

>Accompanied by the smell of burnt sheep, and the air full of what can only

>be described as wooly soot.


Now you understand why tallow candles were avoided by anyone who could

afford better!


19th century literature is full of comments about how nasty tallow candles

were; by that time, wax candles and coal-oil lamps were becoming more

widely available, so the drawbacks of tallow were more evident.  Even in

the MA I think you can find complaints about the nastiness of tallow.


Oil lamps were more of a high-end item in the MA, chiefly because the oil

was more expensive than tallow.  Petroleum oil was mostly unknown, and

vegetable oils were difficult to extract.  Olive oil in particular was an

expensive luxury, especially outside the Mediterranean.





From: BiglyD at gmail.com

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: cotton candle wick

Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2007 21:48:58 -0700


One needs to use correct wick size to produce candles that are

smokeless and dripless. If the wick is too big, the candle will

smoke. If the wick is too small, the candle will drip, and the flame

may be drowned by the liquid wax. We have been a candle manufacturer

since 1982, and are glad to suggest the most suitable wick for you to

use. Our wick is made of 100% cotton and flat braided. We accept small

order. Please visit www.supercandle.com.



Date: Sat, 10 Jul 2010 19:31:00 -0400

From: Craig Daniel <teucer at pobox.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] FW: Caudle spices


On Sat, Jul 10, 2010 at 5:55 PM, Stefan li Rous

<StefanliRous at austin.rr.com> wrote:

<<< Lol. I read that title as "FW: Ca N dle spices" and my first thought was Oh! so there might be some evidence that candles were

actually spiced in period!"


I doubt it though, since most candles would have been tallow candles and beeswax candles are nice enough smelling as is, but does

anyone have evidence to the contrary? >>>


Well, if the candle doesn't need a nicer scent and the usual

candle-making sources (whatever those are) don't talk about it, I'm

not gonna look for it in places chandlers would have checked

already... but modernly, there's another context in which spices go

with candles: some flavors of folk magic. In particular, I recall from

an anthro project on the subject that hoodoo (a form of folk magic of

African-American origin which peaked in popularity in the early 20th

century) used candles anointed with various aromatic oils which often

contain spices, and also reportedly draws significantly from old

European grimoires, some of them period. But it also has other sources

that are less well-documented, and while I've read more modern primary

sources on the matter I know nothing about the grimoires. It would not

surprise me at all, however, to find that they contain antecedents for

this practice. They might even have it in a form that involves candles

being scented.


So, time for a cursory examination of that subset of the sources

that's available online.


Caveat the first: If the use of scented candles is found to be

described in accounts of ritual magic, it doesn't necessarily mean

that it was ever actually practiced - though instructional texts would

tend to imply that it was. (The Malleus Maleficarum, on the other

hand, is notable for containing detailed descriptions of rituals that

there is no particular reason to believe ever actually occurred.)

Finding such in one of those would mean, at best, that people doing

highly transgressive things (like attempting to summon demons, or

otherwise do things the Church would have taken issue with) had

seasoned or annointed candles, which of course would *not* be good

documentation for the use of such in more ordinary contexts. Still, it

has a certain academic interest, so it's worth wasting some time on

the search.


Caveat the second: I've forgotten most of what little I knew of modern

folk magic, and have never known much at all about other flavors of

magic (unless you mean "magic" as in "the art magicians perform",

which is not relevant to this question) from any part of history.

Certainly not enough to be able to tell you without asking Wikipedia

what the major period grimoires are, but some of them are apparently

online. I also cannot vouch for the accuracy of the versions my quick

googling turned up, or the accuracy of the dates attributed to them,

though I'm generally trusting enough of Wikipedia that I'll believe it

until somebody feels like going and checking more authoritative



Anyhow: so far as I can tell in an admittedly not-at-all-thorough

search, period grimoires don't seem to contain any unambiguous

references to scented candles that I have found. Neither do

out-of-period ones that are even close to our timeframe. Not ruling

out the possibility of others that I haven't seen doing so, or of the

ones that I saw implying such in ways a simple search for "candle"

didn't turn up. So, I just spent twenty minutes or so on this avenue

of research and while I didn't get in near enough depth to call it a

dead end, I have added almost no new evidence to the discussion. What

I have found that is even close to relevant is the following:


1. While the candles themselves may be unscented, the grimoires

consistently seem to use candles, incense, and even candles and

incense in combination with each other. This last could be an

antecedent for the use of perfumed candles in magical contexts, and I

suppose it may also be a period precursor to scented candles in more

familiar situations. Especially if we have evidence of it in other

contexts than grimoires, which I don't know of offhand but it wouldn't

surprise me.


2. There's one possible reference that might or might not come from a

period source. The Key of Solomon, probably dating to the 14th or

early 15th century, exists in quite a few different manuscript

versions in multiple languages. There's a 19th-century English

translation that I found reproduced online in an annotated form,

peppered with footnotes comparing that version (translated from

several manuscripts, and apparently not from the earliest ones now

known) to the contents of some of the manuscript versions. In one

place, a footnote quotes a 1674 manuscript as referencing "oll? cum

carbonibus et speciebus odoriferis, et quatuor cereis; ad faciendum

lumen et odorem". Whether the candles make scent because they are

somehow scented or because beeswax is aromatic to begin with is not

entirely clear to me, and the notes don't give the equivalent of this

passage in most of the other versions. The only other one it mentions

merely has the censers described as "cum carbonibus lauri", which

cannot imply scented candles (though I imagine the charcoal is pretty

fragrant), and the English version just says "with lighted charcoal

and sweet odors." It would take more research than I care to do right

now, by somebody consulting manuscripts that may not have their texts

readily available and reading Latin more fluidly than I can, to

determine whether any of the period versions of this passage mention

candles and if so whether said candles might be perfumed in any way.


And that's the only useful reference in that source - at no other

point in the Key of Solomon is there anything that I turned up that

even maybe means that the candles are scented, though they are often

used in combination with things that are. It does, however, contain

instructions pertaining to candles generally - they're to be made

under very exact conditions, out of virgin wax, inscribed with

specific symbols, and blessed with specific (Christian) prayers and

pieces of scripture. Presumably, if the typical use for these candles

involved any ingredients other than wax, this would be specified in

the same section of the grimoire that insists that the candle wicks be

made by young girls. So there may be one specific situation where your

candles are scented if you're working from one specific out-of-period

version, and even that is questionable (especially as doing something

that you don't do in the rest of the book, like perfuming your

candles, would likely be stated more explicitly!), but otherwise one

presumes they are just wax and no spices.


(For those that want the source:

http://www.esotericarchives.com/solomon/ksol2.htm. Just /ksol.htm is

the earlier part of the same, but doesn't contain as much on candles.

The 1674 source is Aubrey Manuscript 24, which is similar to the

less-precisely-dated Additional Manuscript 10862; 10862 is also

17th-century and is the one that has the laurel charcoal rather than

the possibility of scented candles.)


So, yeah. Candles and aromatic substances go together in at least one

fringe context, but even there they almost certainly weren't actually

making scented candles.


- Jaume de Mon??,

who is alone and bored this evening



Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2010 07:39:52 -0400

From: Craig Daniel <teucer at pobox.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] candle spices


On Sun, Jul 11, 2010 at 1:22 AM, Stefan li Rous

<StefanliRous at austin.rr.com> wrote:

<<< I asked:

Lol. ?I read that title as "FW: Ca N dle spices" and my first thought was Oh! so there might be some evidence that candles were

actually spiced in period!"


I doubt it though, since most candles would have been tallow candles and beeswax candles are nice enough smelling as is, but does anyone have evidence to the contrary?


To which Jaume de Mon?? replied with a lot of info about aromatic candles, not specifically for creating a sweet smell.


Oh! Oops. I did forget about incense. However, a quick look through what I have seems to show incense being burned by itself, as in

wood splinters or by simply exposing the incense to air or by heating it in a burner, not by putting it into a candle itself, so this is s

some interesting, new info. >>>


When candles and incense are being burned together in some of those

instructions I have no idea whether they are simply burning incense

and candles next to each other or even in the same censer, or if in

fact the candle is actually burning the incense.


Given that in at least one case you seem to have coals, candles, and

incense all in the same censer, it seems more likely that if the

incense can't burn on its own (as some can't) it would be on the coals

rather than being burned by the candle. At least, that's how modern

incense burners for incense that isn't self-sustaining work; do we

know if it was always like that? For all I know there could have been

incense that you were supposed to burn by means of an open flame and

that's why they have candles and incense being employed together in

places. If so, I'd expect there to be documentation or at least hints

of this in non-magical sources as well, though; do we have anybody

that's paid enough attention to period incense to comment?


<<< But I'm not sure what a "grimoire" is. >>>


Basically, it's a spellbook. Belief in magic has been common for most

if not all of human history, and apparently the desire to practice it

was widespread enough in period Europe that there are surviving

instructional texts on the matter. (How often anyone actually followed

the instructions, I do not know.)


- Jaume



Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2010 07:54:50 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at att.net>

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] candle spices


<<< But I'm not sure what a "grimoire" is.

Stefan >>>


It's a book of spells or a textbook of magic.  The usage is 18th Century and

the word is French.  This probably reflects the revived interest in magic

and alchemy that occurred in France prior to the French Revolution.  English

usage doesn't really start until the 19th Century.  The word likely derives

from grammaire (OF) which refers to any book written in Latin.




<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org