What did candle makers make candles out of?

Many different materials have been used over the years:

  • beeswax, the wax honeybees make honeycomb from
  • dried candlefish, a type of smelt common off the american northwest coast
  • cinnamon wax, obtained by boiling cinnamon bark
  • insect wax, obtained from certain insects
  • tree nut wax, extracted from various types of tree nuts
  • tallow, a hard fat from slaughtered cattle or sheep
  • waxy plant extracts, obtained from certain plants
  • yak butter, made from yak milk
  • spermaceti, made by crystalizing sperm whale oil
  • oil seed waxes, obtained from plants in the Brassica rapa species
  • stearin, similar to tallow but odorless
  • paraffin, a solid white distillation fraction of coal and petroleum
  • soybean wax, obtained from soybean oil
  • palm wax, obtained from palm kernel oil
  • etc.

Many different materials have been used for wicks too:

  • plant reeds
  • rush pith
  • cotton or linen strings
  • modern braided self trimming cotton wicks
  • etc.