Colonial Williamsburg Candle Making

H2 – Candle Making in Colonial Williamsburg

Williamsburg, Virginia, was the must-see colonial destination of choice for Europeans and Americans alike in the 18th century. Entering the city was like stepping back in time, as merchants and tradespeople recreated the lifestyles of colonial times, selling goods and products that were used in those times. One of those important products was candles.

H3 – The Purpose of Candles in Colonial Times

Candles were an essential part of everyday life back in colonial times. With no electricity available until many decades later, candles illuminated dark nights, lighting up corridors, homes, streets and shops. Making candles was a vital source of income for the early candlemakers of Williamsburg and threw the off demand for candles stayed high.



H3 – The Candle Making Process

Making candles was a time-consuming process. Raw materials would first have to be gathered. This would typically include animal fat, often sourced from the rendering of sheep, cows and horses, as well as beeswax or paraffin. This would then be mixed and rendered until it was heated to the desired consistency.

Once a consistent blend was achieved, the molten wax would be poured into a mold, often a hollowed-out chilled log, and cooled. The log was then divided into 8-inch sticks, which were ready for sale.

H3 – Candle Decorating in Colonial Times

Because the majority of candlesticks were made from the same leaded-glass molds, candlemakers would embellish their candles with decoration. This could take the form of intricate carvings, elaborate filigrees, or even incised patterns or symbols deep into the wax.

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Colonial Williamsburg candlemakers also used different colored waxes and added scents to their creations, adding flavor and color to their candles.

H3 – The Legacy of Colonial Williamsburg Candle Makers

Today, there are still colonial candlemakers living in Williamsburg, and their candle-making technology and craft can now be seen at the Chowning’s Tavern at Colonial Williamsburg.

The art of Colonial Williamsburg candle making is still fairly unknown, though it offers a fascinating insight into the lifestyles of those who lived there in colonial times. The skill of the Williamsburg candlemakers is an enduring testament to the tenacity and resourcefulness of those early settlers.

What supplies are needed to make a Colonial Williamsburg candle?

To make a Colonial Williamsburg candle, you will need the following supplies:

1. Candle wick: A roll of 3/0 round cotton wicking, at least three feet in length.

2. Beeswax: You will need a block of plenty 100 percent beeswax to make the candle.

3. Sheet of paper: To keep the wax from dripping off the wick core, you will need a sheet of paper.

4. Aluminum wick core: This is used to keep the wick straight while it is being poured into the candle mold.

5. Candle mold: The mold should be large enough to accommodate the size of the candle desired.



6. Pot: The pot is used to melt the beeswax to turn it into liquid form.

7. Candle dye: If a colored candle is desired, you will need to choose a candle dye to use.

8. Wick holder: You will need a wick holder to keep the wick centered in the candle mold.

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9. Pouring pitcher: This is used to pour the liquid wax into the candle mold.

10. Heat source: The heat source should be consistent and hot enough to melt the beeswax.



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