Candle Making In Colonial America Ielts Reading Answers Key


Candle making in colonial America dates back to the 1600s, when the Colonists began producing and using candles for both home use and commercial purposes. The early colonists mainly used animal fat and beeswax for their candle-making needs. Animal fats were rendered from various animal carcasses and could be tallow or lard; meanwhile, beeswax came from honey gathered from hives. To get started with candle-making, the colonists would need to acquire the required wax or fat, containers for melting them, either a pot or a mould depending on the desired shape of the finished product. The melting process followed by careful pouring into shaped moulds was what created candles of all shapes and sizes.

Colonial candle makers developed innovative ways to improve both their quantity and quality of candles produced. As wax production became more sophisticated over time, so too did the different types of products available. Throughout this period, candlesticks also developed in terms of material and design, including those made out of clay, metal and wood. In addition to supplying homes with light during nighttime hours, candles found additional uses in churches as markers for specific Bible passages during night-time readings as well as at special events such as weddings due to their ability to burn steadily over extended periods of time. Eventually, tallow based candles were replaced by paraffin wax derivatives which produced a cleaner burning flame when ignited.

Today’s artisans are continuing this age old craft by creating beautiful candles in traditional styles that often resemble those made centuries ago with modern supplies such as vegetable waxes and scented oils used in combination with natural handcrafted containers made out of terracotta or glass – a testimony to how far candle-making has come while still preserving its original essence across time.

History of Colonial Candle Making

Candle making in colonial America was a centuries old tradition. During these times, people were dependent on candles for providing light both inside and outside their homes. Because of this, the practice of making and using candles was widespread from Canada to Mexico.

The practice of candle making in colonial America had its beginnings in Europe, where it was a skill shared between families for generations. In America, different methods of creating candles were adapted and improved upon by colonial settlers. Depending on the region and family practices, various materials such as tallow (animal fat), beeswax, bayberry wax and other natural materials were used to make the actual candle wicks and fuel sources. Many of these materials had been gathered from local resources or bartered with Native American tribes who also had extensive knowledge of candle making traditions.

Besides traditional tallow-based candles (which were common because animal fat was easy to find,) colonists would often create candles out of beeswax or bayberry wax. Beeswax was more expensive than tallow candles but it gave off a much brighter flame with fewer odors or smoke emissions. Bayberry wax was also a popular choice until supplies became scarce due to overharvesting . In addition to homemade varieties , townspeople also purchased more elaborate versions from apothecaries that featured fats from multiple animal sources including whale oil, seal oil, lard , and butter .

One of the most remarkable things about Colonial Candle Making is that the same technology has been used continually up until modern times . While there have been advancements made in terms of safety requirements (for instance flame retardant wicks) and design options (such as scented waxes) it’s clear that many time-tested practices remain unchanged even today . With its long history as an integral part of life in early American households , Candle Making remains an essential part of history that we live with every day.

Materials Used for Candle Making in Colonial America

During colonial America, candle making was a crucial part of everyday life. It provided light for the home and the steady illumination of church services and public events. Materials used to produce candles were largely limited by availability of suitable resources.

Tallow was the primary material used for candle production. Tallow is a form of rendered fat, typically from beef or sheep but sometimes also from pets like cats and dogs that may have been euthanized as a humane action in cases of incurable illness or injury. The fat was melted down and combined with various substances, such as lead sulfide (known as galipot) to increase opacity and prevent dripping or saltpeter to improve burning quality. Beeswax was also commonly used in candle making in colonial America to produce a better quality product than those created solely with tallow. Beeswax burned longer and had a stronger scent while also being less smoky than entirely tallow-based products. Although it was more expensive due to its higher refinement process, its use increased over time due to its superior performance. Similarly, bayberry wax became increasingly common in New England due to the abundance of bayberry shrubs there. Lastly, spermaceti wax from sperm whales might be available in areas near ports or whaling stations but could be difficult to obtain due to its expense and scarcity compared with other forms of waxes.

How To Make Candles From Beeswax

Colonists accessed these materials either through local offerings or specialised traders who sourced supplies from Britain or other European countries like Holland where beeswax production processes were more efficient and cost effective at the time. Therefore, access to resources played an important role in determining how candle making progressed during colonial America since different combinations were used based on availability and cost efficiency like beeswax improving the end product while boiling down larger amounts of tallow yielded greater quantity with decreased overall quality

Process of Candle Making in Colonial America

Candle making was one of the most important crafts practiced in colonial America. People relied on candles to light up their houses, businesses, and churches during the night-time hours. The process of candle making required patience, attention to detail, and a few simple materials which could be found almost everywhere. In this interactive guide, we’ll take a look at exactly how people used to make candles in colonial America.

To begin the candle making process, beeswax or rendered animal fat unearthed from slaughterhouses were put into large vats. Boiling water was added as fuel for heating purposes and left to simmer until it melted down into liquid form. Fragrant herbs were often added for scenting purposes; however this step was usually completed by the well-off only since scented candles generally costed higher amounts than plain ones and fewer people could afford such luxuries .

Once fully melted, this liquid wax would be filtered through muslin cloths to ensure even burning and the removal of any impurities and then poured into molds where it would cool off into solid shapes. Workers had to pay great attention when pouring the wax because merely a few drops of cold water dropped onto the melted wax would result in massive damages that needed additional labor for fixing them up. Then several wicks made out of cotton spools consited in cutting several pieces of linen/cotton fabrics into rectangular areas before cutting spirals around those pieces with scissors i are placed in between melded wax surface which had been pressed down with wooden paddles until they reached the bottom side so that they laid flatly against those surfaces leveling off afterwards any unpleasent bumps..

Once cooled and hardened ,candles needed further trimming down before being considered finished products for sale; excess portions were removed with special sharp knives, fiters were cut shorter ,and snuffers were added both perfuming oils ,essential oils as many other traditional ingredients from diffrent cultures known by settlers . For occasions demanding more brightness or longevity, layered or stacked up tallow candles could be made wherein multiple layers are moulded together creating taller columns than usual candles more resistant to winds (wick must also have been caulked ans set2). Moreover ,in order to soften decorations such as an image’s portrayals or symbols these layered should also be pressed underneath heavy weights so that all layers mixed nicely while solidifying at same temperatures .Finally fragrances or blend essences are further added either before or after cooling is finished thereby producing different shapes including cylinders triangles pentagons etc.

The Significance of Candles in Colonial America

Candles played an important role in colonial America, influencing both political, cultural, and religious life. During a time of limited lighting options, they provided a source of light when darkness fell, allowing people to continue their activities late into the evening. Candles were also very versatile – they could be made from a multitude of materials including whale blubber, beef fat, beeswax and processed plant oils.

Making Braided Taper Candles

Politically, the use of candles was seen as a symbol of status for those who could afford them. Candles were often expensive and ranged in price depending on the quality; those of higher quality were reserved for wealthier families and were used for social occasions. This provided a way for Colonial American families to demonstrate their wealth – something which had been difficult in other parts of Europe due to sumptuary laws that regulated dress and consumption.

The making of candles held spiritual significance too: many religious ceremonies such as baptisms or funerals would require large amounts of candlelight in order to take place properly. Furthermore, many colonists saw the “flickering light” as a sign from God or meant to invoke prophetic dreams during sleep at night.

Culturally speaking, candle-making during Colonial times represented a unique blend of cultures that combined traditional European methods with indigenous practices. The artistry associated with candle-making reached its peak in Newport where several companies produced ornate products carved with local designs and symbols that became popular throughout colonial America due to newfound dominance in trading networks across major port cities along the Atlantic coast. This combination generated new traditions around festivals; some notable examples include Easter Candles which contained vivid colors that informed their weighty symbolism behind rebirths or celebrations associated with certain saints’ days where individuals placed candles on gravesites as an act of devotion or remembrance for the departed loved one(s). Over time candle-making eventually grew into an industry within itself with settlers both importing and exporting goods (like beeswax) for profit within global markets.

IELTS Reading Answers Key

1. What was the primary material used to make candles in colonial America?

The primary material used to make candles in colonial America was tallow, which was a rendered animal fat derived from beef or mutton suet. Other materials were also used, such as beeswax and whale oil, but tallow was the most common.

2. How were candle molds made in colonial America?

Candle molds were made of either clay, iron, brass, pewter, or tin in colonial America. They were sometimes inscribed with decorative patterns or designs before being filled with wax or tallow to form the candle shape. Molds typically had two ends that fit together; the bottom end could be opened up so that the newly formed candle could be easily removed after it cooled and solidified.

3. How were colonial American candles lit?

Colonial American candles were usually lit using tapers or snuffers. A taper was a wooden stick with a pointed end which could be used to light a candle wick directly. Alternatively, snuffers – metal cones that surrounded the wick – could also be used to control and extinguish burning tin without leaving black smoke on walls and furniture surfaces like a taper would do if extinguished incorrectly.


Candle making was a vital and integral part of life in Colonial America. During a period before electricity when people were reliant on natural light, candlemaking was an essential activity for keeping homes, churches and businesses illuminated. The resulting candles also served as a more reliable alternative to whale oil lamps which created dimmer, more faint lighting during the night. This meant that still-room activities such as sewing, cooking and even studying could take place well into the evening hours.

Although colonial candle makers used primitive tools and lacked modern manufacturing processes, their skill combined with hard work allowed them to create highly useful and valuable commodities for sale in local markets across the colonies. Their accomplishments speak to not just their ingenuity but also their determination to withstand hardships rural living imposed on them at the time. Today, candle making is important symbolically as a reminder of colonial life and the diligence of early American craftspeople who braved hostile environments yet managed to survive sustainably over a long period time while sustaining certain traditions going forward in the process.

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