A cylindrical mass of tallow, or other concrete oleaginous matter, having in its axis a cotton or other wick, and employed to afford artificial light Next to tallow, the substances most extensively used are wax and spermaceti. Some valuable substitutes for these have recently been discovered and introduced in the manufacture of candles, which we shall give an account of in this article, after having described the processes employed in the production of the former. There are two sorts of tallow candles, dips and moulds; the former being made by dipping the wicks in melted tallow, the latter, by casting, or pouring the fluid tallow into moulds containing the wicks stretched longitudinally throughout their centres. The cotton used for making the wicks is loosely twisted, and is prepared for the manufacturer in large balls who draws out a thread from each of five, six, or more balls, (according to the thickness of wick required,) and cuts them off to the length of the intended candle. The apparatus for cutting the cotton is simply a smooth board, made to fix on the knees; on the upper surface is the blade of a razor, and at the required distance a piece of cane is fixed, around which the cotton is carried, and being thence brought over the edge of the razor, is instantly separated.
The next operation, called "pulling the cotton," consists in drawing the threads through the hand, and removing knots or other unevenesses. The cotton is next "spread," or extended between two rods, about half an inch diameter, and three feet long; these are called broaches. In dipping candles by hand, the workman takes two broaches at a time, strung with the proper number of wicks, and holding them equidistant by means of the second and third fingers of each hand, he immerses them in a vat containing the fluid tallow, three times successively for the first lay or coat, then holds them for a while over the vessel to drain, and afterwards suspends them on a rack above, where they continue to drain. When this first coating of tallow has solidified, the workman proceeds in like manner to give them their second coat, by dipping them twice before hanging them again to drain and cool. The number of lays or coats thus given to the candles depends upon the thickness they are required to be. During the operation the vat is supplied from time to time with fresh tallow, kept at a proper temperature by means of a gentle fire underneath it.
Tallow-chandlers have of late years, however, generally availed themselves of a very simple and convenient piece of mechanism for aiding them in their dipping process. Five or six of the broaches, filled with the cotton wicks as already described, are fixed at both their ends into a movable frame, which is suspended over the vat upon one extremity of a lever, and is counterbalanced at the other by weights in a scale, which are increased as the candles become heavier. By this arrangement it is obvious that the workman has only to guide the frame in dipping the candles, and not to support the weight between his fingers, as before mentioned. It is said that other mechanical contrivances have been introduced for the same purpose, but we are not aware of any so simple and efficient. The mould in which moulded candles are cast consists of a frame of wood, and several hollow metal cylinders, generally made of pewter, of the diameter and length of the candle wanted, and having an aperture at each end for the cotton to pass through, which is performed by a wire, the cotton being fastened so as to keep it straight and in the centre of each mould. Tallow being poured into these moulds, the candles are suffered to cool and harden, when they are readily withdrawn out of the tubes.
The kind of candles called rush-lights, differ only by their containing a rush as a substitute for the cotton wick, which prevents the necessity of snuffing. Lately, however, small cotton wicks have been introduced, which do not require snuffing; these burn with a steadier light, and are not so liable to go out as those with rushes.
Wax candles arc also of various kinds; they are made of cotton or flaxen wicks, and covered with white or coloured wax, which is performed either by the ladle or by the hand. In making them by the ladle, a dozen of them are tied by the wick at equal distances round an iron ring, suspended over a large basin of copper, tinned on the inside, and full of melted wax; a large ladleful of this wax is gently poured on the tops of the wicks one after another, and the operation continued till the candles arrive at their destined dimensions. The first three ladlesful are poured on to the tops of the wicks, the fourth at the height of three-fourths, the fifth at one half, and the sixth at one-fourth, in order to give the candles their proper form, which are then taken down and smoothed by rolling upon a walnut-tree table, with a smooth box-wood instrument, which is continually moistened with hot water to prevent the adhesion of the wax. In making wax candles by the hand, the workmen begin to soften the wax by working it several times in hot water, contained in a deep narrow cauldron.
A piece of the wax is then taken out and disposed by little and little around the wick, which is hung on a hook in the wall, by the extremity opposite to the neck, so that they begin with the large end, diminishing still as they descend towards the neck. In other respects, the method is nearly the same as in the before-mentioned. There is, however, this difference, - that in the former case, water is used to moisten the instruments, while in the latter, the hands are lubricated with oil of olives, or lard, to prevent the adhesion of the wax. Wax tapers are drawn after the manner of making wire. By means of two large wooden rollers the wick is repeatedly passed through melted wax contained in a basin, provided on one side with an instrument full of holes, through which the cylinder of wax also traverses until it has obtained the required size.