In Wicca and related forms of Neo-paganism, the candle is frequently used on the altar to represent the presence of the God and Goddess, and in the four corners of a ritual circle to represent the presence of the four classical elements: Fire, Air, Water, and Earth. When used in this manner, lighting and extinguishing the candle marks the opening and closing of the ritual. The candle is also frequently used by Wiccans and other Neopagans for magical and meditative purposes. Altar candles are traditionally thick tall candles which are available in many colours. Most popular though unless at certain sabbats, are the black and white altar candles.
Hazards in useEdit
The candle can be a major cause of dangerous fires in households. (An electric candle warmer can be used to release fragrance without the risk of an open flame.)
The liquid wax is hot and can cause skin burns, but the amount and temperature are generally rather limited and the burns are seldom serious. The best way to avoid getting burned from splashed wax is to use a candle snuffer instead of blowing on the flame. A candle snuffer is usually a small metal cup on the end of a long handle. When placed over the flame the oxygen supply is cut off. They were used daily when the candle was the main source of lighting a home, before electric lights were available.
Glass candle holders are sometimes cracked by thermal shock from the candle flame, particularly when the candle burns down to the end.
A former worry regarding the safety of candles was that a lead core was used in the wicks to keep them upright in container candles. Without a stiff core, the wicks of a container candle could sag and drown in the deep wax pool. Concerns rose that the lead in these wicks would vaporize during the burning process, releasing lead vapors — a known health and developmental hazard. Lead core wicks have not been common since the 1970s. Imported candles may still be found to have some lead core wicks. Today, most metal-cored wicks use zinc or a zinc alloy, which has become the industry standard. Wicks made from specially treated paper and cotton are also available.
The hottest part of the flame is just above the very dull blue part to one side of the flame, at the base. At this point, the flame is at 1,400°C.
- This page borrows from the Wikipedia article