A candle is a light source usually consisting of an internal wick which rises through the center of a column of solid fuel (often referred to as wax, even though candle fuels other than paraffin are uncommon today).
Prior to the domestication of electricity, candles were a common source of lighting, before, and later in addition to, the oil lamp. Due to the local availibilty and costs of resources, for several centuries up to the 19th century candles were more common in northern Europe, and olive oil lamps more common in southern Europe and around the Mediterranean Sea.
Today, candles are usually used for their aesthetic value (especially the flame, but they are decorative even when not burning), particularly to set a soft, warm, or romantic ambience, and for emergency lighting during electrical power failures.
Dangerous, and the cause of many house fires are:
- the candle falling over because it was not tight in its holder or because of a move by a human (including children) or pet
- somebody coming too close so that his/her clothing catches fire
- a flammable holder, if not watched closely
- flammable material near the candle, for example a curtain (where draught can move the curtain and the flame)
- the flame getting too large because the wick is getting too large, or other objects act as additional wick
Leaving the candle unattended increases the danger because change in flame size and in draught etc. are not observed, and because if anything catches fire, this is not immediately extinguished.
Candles are also used in religious ceremonies. In Christianity, they typically represent the light of Christ.
Candles can be made of paraffin, stearin, beeswax, or tallow. Candles are produced in various colors, shapes, sizes and scents. Some scented candles are used for aromatherapy.
See also Timeline of lighting technology.
In physics, the candle is an old unit of luminous intensity replaced by the candela. A candle is 1.02 candela.
Candle is also a novel by John Barnes