Candle Wax and Light

Quiz: What is the primary ingredient used to make a candle? (The answer is at the end of this post and not in your ear, which is basically shed skin and fat, although the answer is also a mixture that includes organic material and vegetable fat.)

Okay, I won’t make you wait. The answer is wax, but now I have another question. What’s so great about it? Lots.

How Wax is Used

1) Gently heated, applied, left to cool, and pulled, certain wax compounds can remove excess hair from eyebrows, chins, armpits, legs, and … let’s just say some ladies have the procedure done before swimsuit season.

2) Paraffin wax is heated and poured over freshly made jams and jellies that have been placed in sterile canning jars. The wax seals out air and preserves the preserves. I once made blueberry and cinnamon jam using this preservation method. Also, paraffin wax is used as therapy for arthritis and other ailments

3) Lip ointment, cosmetics, chewing gum (from ancient Greeks, to Mayans, to Gene Simmons of the Rock Band Kiss whose chewed gum was auctioned on EBAY for the crushing sum of $585.00,  chewing gum remains popular), car wax, protective coating on supermarket fruit, furniture wax, candles, wax paper, cheese coating, wine bottles, … the list is elastic and would make a really good topic for a Science Fair.

Where Does Wax Come From?

Even bees know the answer: plants. Candelilla plants, sugarcane, Brazilian Palms, and many others. That’s the basic answer. Other ingredients are added to create wax compounds, but that’s a topic for the Mad Scientist blog, if there is one (of course there is … I just found it).

The plant I am most interested in is the candelilla plant because it is indigenous to the area where one of my novels takes place. As I often do when researching a tangible item, I find something I can hold, and in this case, grow. My little candelilla plant sits on a table in my living room, soaking up sun and reminding me of why I love to write. I learn so much! Plus, it’s gratifying to share these things with you through my blog and books.

A couple of theories arise as to why the name of this plant sounds like the word candle.

1) Its long, slender stems resemble a candle

2) The entire plant, because of its waxy stems, was easily set on fire

I don’t know if either theory is correct, but the etymology, or origin of the word candle is Latin. Candela has a derivative word candid, which used to mean shining or white and today means honest.

Can Light be Hidden?

Yes, and no. A lamp can be hidden under a box, but what’s the point? Internal light is not readily seen, except on a glowing face; light that illuminates the soul cannot be manually produced from striking a match, but it’s a truth that becomes real. It lights up our lives.

Candles, writing books, serving others … these are things that light up my life. What lights up yours?

“Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy” Isaiah 60:5.




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