Our Love of Candles
There was a time that candles were only used as a source of light. No electricity, no solar power, no battery-operated flashlights to light the way to the outdoor bathroom on a cold, winter night. Yet, nearly 100 years after electricity started to take over the lighting duties, U.S. retail candle sales are roughly $3.5 billion annually and only forecasted to increase over the next several years. So, in my best bad comedian voice, what’s the deal with candles? If we don’t need candles to light our way, why DO we make, buy and burn SO many candles? Here are three big reasons:
Fragrance- when I first started making candles, about 15 years ago, I was only interested in making beach scented candles as part of my Beach in A Box, “escape to the beach without leaving your home”, gift set. I wanted to be able to light my candle and feel like I was at the beach and, not cooped up in the middle of a dreary, cold, Midwest winter. Fragrance is our primary motivation for making or purchasing candles. It can trigger a happy childhood memory, take us someplace we don’t have the time or means to travel, to alter our moods or just make a space smell better.
Atmosphere- last month, while leading a remote make your own candle teambuilding activity, I asked each participant what they love about candles. Several said it was the atmosphere a burning candle can create. They’re not alone because, according to the National Candle Association, 90% of us use candles to make a room “feel” comfortable or cozy. There is actual scientific data that shows that sitting by a fire or, the flames of a candle can lower your blood pressure and result in feeling relaxed.
Décor-Interior or exterior, more and more of us are using candles as decorating accents in their homes. The great news is there is no shortage of options to choose from. Creative use of vessels, or containers, allows candle makers to use cleaner burning waxes, natural or no dyes, cotton core wicks and leave the visual “heavy lifting” to the vessel the candle was made in. There has also been a recent surge in making candles, pillar and container, that replicate something like a bowl of cereal, cup of coffee, a succulent, ice cream sundae, etc.
Whatever the reason(s), there’s little doubt that we love our candles and that doesn’t look to be changing any time in the near future. Candles range widely in price but, with most priced under $30, for a good-sized candle made with quality ingredients, candles can improve our mood and mental health, decorate a room, create a vibe and make a great gift, for any occasion.