LIT UP YOUR LIFE WITH JAPANESE CANDLES
CHARACTERISTICS OF JAPANESE CANDLES
When it comes to candles, the most familiar thing that a Japanese could remember might be the moment and special days such as “obon, equinox grave visits and ancestral visits”, where incense are lighted up and offered to an altar. The usage of candles on these special days is so prominent that it gives the idea that candles are only used on special occasions. A Japanese candle illuminates an unbelievably large area. Enjoy a comfortable family meal around the dining table, a relaxing soak in a warm bath, and some peaceful time in bed as the day draws to a close. The Japanese candle is the perfect companion in any scenario. The low flame of a Japanese candle is gentle, but it warms and lights a person's life from within. But what is special about Japanese candles?
Warouso-ku or Japanese candles are a lamp-like sort of candle. Because their flames have such a strong relaxing effect, the significance of Japanese candles in interior use has recently been rediscovered. The flame fluctuation of Japanese candles provides "1/2 fluctuation," which has been scientifically proved to reduce tension. Mokuro Japan wax is squeezed from gobies and heated and melted by hand around a Japanese paper core (wick) and the marrow of the lantern core, then dried repeatedly. Japanese candles are made using wax harvested from Japanese wax and lacquer trees. The candles are made using a unique "tegake" method, which entails applying wax around the candlewick with one's bare hands over and over again. It is said that mastering the technique takes ten years.
There is a tradition of drawing pictures on the sides of Japanese candles known as "picture candles." The reason for this is that Japanese candles are traditionally placed on Buddhist altars, and they are decorated with flowers. However, by drawing a picture of flowers on Japanese candles, it is symbolic that they can be replaced with a flower pattern picture of a Japanese candle, even if the flower does not wither. Around 1375, Japanese candles are mentioned in the Taiheiki description. It appears to have started at that period.
Warouso-ku (Japanese candles) are thought to have originated in Japan with the advent of Buddhism and are based on an item from the Nara period (710-794 AD) made of beeswax obtained from beehives. The growth of haze (wax trees), a raw material utilized in Warouso-ku, blossomed in Kyushu and Shikoku during the Edo period (1603-1868 AD), and these candles became widely used by the people.
Nanao thrived as a port of call for cargo ships sailing the Japan Sea during this period, thanks to its natural harbor. These ships delivered wax from Kyushu and WASHI (Japanese paper) from Iwami for the Wa-rousoku wick (Shimane Prefecture). Warouso-ku was built in Nanao and then delivered by cargo ships to various parts of Japan. Rousoku-za, a candle-making cooperative, was founded in Nanao and operated until the middle of the Meiji period (1868-1912 AD).
Traditional Japanese candles are constructed by wrapping core Japanese paper around wooden and bamboo skewers, wrapping light core grass around the helix, and finally wrapping it in cotton (core winding work). When the wax is applied and dried repeatedly, the inside becomes a hollow structure, and the wooden skewer (bamboo skewer) is ultimately pulled out.
However, nowadays, "type Japanese candles" created by pouring raw ingredients into molds are the norm, while traditional Japanese candles are made by fewer enterprises.
Japanese candles are time-consuming and expensive to make, yet they are difficult to blow away, and the center quickly absorbs wax, resulting in excellent functionality such as low wax dripping and oil smoke. Japanese candles larger than 15 cm have a thicker core, which may not burn out when lighted and may remain carbonized, depending on the maker. As a result, the length of the carbonized core is altered and the fire is regulated by "wicking" the carbonized core with a particular tool.
However, some "Japanese candles" contain raw ingredients other than plant characteristics, and standard wax alternatives are not suitable for raw usage because to their high freezing point, leaving only mold pouring as an option. As a result, synthetic waxes based on fatty acid glycerides and oxidized waxes have been produced, and raw work has been used to bring some goods closer to traditional manufacturing methods.
MADE FROM PLANT-DERIVED FATS AND OILS
The first candles were imported to Japan from China in the 8th century, and they were made of plant wax. Sumac wax was soft and easy to mould into the shape of a candle, thus it became the common choice for candle manufacture in Japan by the 16th century.
Due to its superior natural pot, the city of Nanao, in the Ishikawa Prefecture, flourished as a port of call for Kitamae "Northbound Ships" in the Edo Period (1603-1868). Sumac wax from the Kyushu region and Japanese paper (wa-shi) from Iwami (in the Shimane Prefecture) were brought to Nanao to produce candles. The Kitamae ships then transported the completed product throughout Japan.
The flame is created by a particular wick fashioned from a unique 16th-century formula, and it is a symbol of ancient wisdom. Light meant candles at a time when there were no electric lights, and a lot of attention went into making candlelight brighter. Their wick is created from plant-based materials like dried rush and washi-paper, symbolizing their forefathers' great bond with nature.
Japanese candles are made from liquid found in the nuts of a Japanese wax tree. The wax of kodai kuroya is produced by steaming and pressing the raw wax of the kokomi fruit, which is dried and aged for two years in a cool and dark environment.
The impurities are subsequently removed from the fats and oils produced, and the wax is produced. Wax has a low melting point and is believed to be tough to manufacture because it is made up of vegetable fats and oils. Unlike western candles made out of paraffin, Japanese candles does not emit disturbing black smokes but offers cleaner burning without toxins, carcinogens or pollutants that usually triggers allergies. Moreover, natural wax candles last generally from 30% to 50% longer than regular paraffin based candles. The process of making Japanese candles is a long and fascinating process where craftsmen have to scoop hot molten wax with their bare hands, rubbing it around the wick and letting it dry.
Western candles are easily made into different shapes and size and are often used as furnishings. Japanese candles are made from liquid found in the nuts of a Japanese wax tree. After harvesting the nuts of the tree, the nuts are crushed using an industrial grinding machine to make it easier to draw out the liquid. The next step is heating up the crushed nuts. In this process, the liquid, or wax is extracted from the nuts. The liquid is then poured into a container and poured into smaller containers. When the liquid are cooled and solidifies, the wax is known as wood wax. These blocks of wood wax are heated again in a pot. When melted, a person strains the liquid to remove any debris or dirt from the previous process. The candle maker will now get the wicks and dip them in the hot melted wax. When the wax in the wicks hardens, they are dipped again to make them thicker. The candle maker will repeat the process with the other batches of wicks until he get the desired thickness of wax sticking into the wicks. There is an average of 19 wax applications in the wick to get the certain thickness before doing the next process – “shitagake”. In the process called “shitagake”, the wax is applied by hand as the wicks are turned. The wax temperature is roughly 45 degrees Celsius at this point. A finishing wood wax is melted to give the candles a beautiful finish. The candles are shaped as they are turned and the wax is applied by hand. This gives the candle a whitish ivory color compared to the previous step, where the color is darker. To give the candles a final touch, another candle maker shapes the candles. The wicks are exposed by scraping the end of the candles. This process is also when the wooden sticks are removed by turning the candles and the wooden stick away in the opposite directions. After removing the wooden sticks, the candles are then cut to specified lengths using knife.
The wicks are made from stalks of soft rush, which has a soft texture and has good wax absorption. In making of wicks, washi paper is wrapped around a stick, and the soft rush is then wrapped over the washi. Silk wadding is then used to fix it in place. The wicks of Japanese candles is different from the traditional wick. Japanese candle wicks are stayed in place using a stick, thus, it allows the soft rush to wrap around it.
FLAMES THAT SWAY EVEN WHEN THE WIND ISN’T BLOWING
Because the core of Japanese candles is thick, they have a lot of firepower and turn into orange flames that look like sunsets. Furthermore, because the inside of the core is hollow, the flames will tremble when air is flowing. As they burn, Japanese candles fascinate spectators. Even when there is no wind, their flame dances high and wild at times and dives low at other times.
The flame of a Japanese candle can grow to be roughly half the length of the body. The flame of a Japanese candle has a huge swaying swing to it. The rhythm of this flickering candle's flame is supposed to be the same as the rhythm of fresh green and waves [1/f fluctuation. At first look, the flame of a Japanese candle differs from that of a Western candle. The swaying flames have a mystique and feeling about them, as if they have their own will. The construction of the Japanese candle conceals the difference between this flame and others. The air going through the candle and the passage of the fire create a hollow inside a Japanese candle.
THE FLAME IS HARD TO EXTINGUISH
The core of a Japanese candle is made by wrapping Japanese paper around a stick and delicately twisting the light cores from the west one by one.
By wrapping the top of the core around a stick, a cavity can be created, and when ignited, air is drawn in through the hole and the fire is sucked out, causing the flame to quiver fiercely and be difficult to control. The movement of air from the chimney causes the flame of a Japanese candle to swing in the absence of wind. And even in heavy winds, the flame is strong enough to keep flickering.
THERE IS LITTLE SOOT AND IT IS HARD TO STAIN THE BUDDHIST ALTAR
Soot is a solid particle formed when carbon-containing fuels, primarily petroleum-based fuels, are burned incompletely. This is referred to as petro-carbon soot, and it is absent from soy wax. Soy wax and other natural wax does not produce any petro-carbon soot. Japanese candles are resistant to wind and produce little soot. With the advent of Buddhism, Warousoku grew popular among people, and given this historical context, one typical usage of these candles is as a means for offering up prayer in places of worship. Temples, Butsudan (Buddhist altars) in homes, and grave sites are examples of where they are employed.
It is difficult to tarnish the Buddhist altar with soot because to the clean burning with little oil smoke. Japanese candle soot has distinct characteristics, such as the fact that it is impossible to damage Buddhist altars and rooms due to the lack of oil smoke.
BURNING TIME OF JAPANESE CANDLES
A candle's burn time is the amount of hours it will stay lighted and generate fragrance for. Each candle is unique and is determined by several elements, including wax, wick, and container size.
Natural, synthetic, or a combination of the two candle waxes are available. The melting point of a candle wax is a crucial component in influencing the burn time of a candle. The greater the melting point, the longer it takes for the candle to melt, and hence the longer the burn period. Below is a rundown of the most prevalent waxes and their melting points.
134° F for palm wax
129° F for paraffin wax
127° F for paraffin + soy wax
127° F Malibu Apothecary Proprietary Wax (Natural Coconut + Soy Wax)
124° F for coconut wax
115° F for soy wax
The length of time it takes to burn a candle is also determined by the size of the wick. A healthy wick allows the candle to burn more evenly and cleanly. The candle will burn very quickly if the wick is too large. If the wick is too small, the candle will not burn completely, resulting in a "tunneled" effect.
Japanese candles having a length of around 7 cm burn for 25 to 30 minutes, but western candles have a length of 35 to 40 minutes. This is due to a difference in the core; western candles have thin cores and little firepower, so they burn slowly and take a long time to burn.
Synthetic wax like paraffin wax is made up of the same petroleum byproducts that go into making plastic, but these materials come at a cost: while they stay longer and emit more aroma into the air, they also release harmful compounds.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JAPANESE CANDLES AND WESTERN CANDLES
The primary distinction between Japanese and Western candles is the raw materials used. Japanese candles are manufactured of plant waxes such as wax tree and soy wax, but western candles are composed of petroleum called paraffin.
When compared to the flames of petroleum-based paraffin candles, it's clear that the size and shape of the flames change significantly. It's difficult for wax to flow down the candle because of the way it wavers. One of Japan's traditional aesthetics is the elegance of these silent and slow-burning candles.
Japanese candles are characterized mainly on its raw materials. Compared to the western candles, Japanese candles are made from a variety of vegetable oils and fats as the raw material. For a long time, the raw material has been wax, which is an oil collected from the outer shell of a wax fruit. Furthermore, many raw materials produced from plants were researched in modern times, including soy wax manufactured from soybeans, nuka wax extracted from rice bran, wax made from beeswax called beeswax, and wax made from whale oil in the past. Animal fats were also used to make candles in Europe.
Because of the considerable difference in materials, Japanese candles are relatively expensive when compared to western candles. From the securing of raw materials, it is difficult to produce candles utilizing wax such as nuts as raw materials.
Western candles are made from paraffin, which comes from petroleum. When melted, paraffin will change color from white to transparent. Western candles are made by candle making machines, and the wicks are made from thread composed of cotton and synthetic fibers. The melted paraffin is sent to the candle-making machine. The melted paraffin will then fill the holes in the machine. The temperature is lowered by running water through the machine. As the paraffin cools down, the centers sink when they harden. Once the candles are hardened, they are removed by pulling them upwards. These western candles are shaped by cutting the bottoms to a specified lengths using a cutting machine. Western candles vary in height, from almost 12 inches to 3 inches.
Another significant difference between these two candles is the condition of the flame. In the case of western candles, the core of a Japanese candle is a thread, but the light core is created from the marrow of the grass known as tatami (soft rush plant). Because Japanese use weed grass for the wick, the raw material is limited compared to western candles created with numerous threads, which is reflected in the price difference of candles. This change in wick has a significant impact on the flame's state. Japanese candles have a thicker core than western candles, thus the flames shake and grow a lot.
The inside of the Japanese candle's core is hollow, and air travels through it, causing the flame to fluctuate. In Michael Faraday's The Science of Candles, the ventilation system of a Japanese candle's core astounded the audience. Western candles have a flame temperature of 1100°C to 1530°C, while Japanese candles have a flame temperature of 940°C to 1500°C. However, because the flame size (volume) is bigger than that of Japanese candles, the illuminance is 2 to 3 times brighter.
As a conclusion, despite the high value price of Japanese candles, the advantage of using this type of candle varies greatly when compared to the western candles. The impact to the environment of using western candles awakens the young generation’s perspective of pollution. In this manner, the quality of Japanese candles cannot be matched with synthetic candles.
NOT ONLY FOR MEMORIAL USE, BUT ALSO FOR EVERYDAY USE
Many years ago, hand-painted Japanese candles were used to replace flowers on the Buddhist alter at home during the winter. Lighting the candles is thought to send flowers to ancestors. Because of their beauty, they are also notable as a memento or interior ornament.
Many people may agree that in the past years, the use of candles in Japan is solely for special occasions or memorial days. However, as the younger generations becoming aware of their health and the environment, the promotion of using Japanese candles today have increase.
Japanese candles also become a way of carving out time for ourselves in the middle of modern life's hectic pace. Candles can be lighted to make time for meditation or yoga, which both restore tranquility to the body and mind, to relieve tension after a long day at work, or to stimulate nice discussion with family at dinner time. Their use as a means of spending quality time that lasts till the flame goes out.
Japanese candles are not only great for meditating indoors, but also outdoors since the flame that this candle produce is large and is difficult to disappear. However, there are a number of things that someone should consider about safety when using Japanese candles:
▪How to safely light a candle
- The flame on Japanese candles is huge and bright. Keep the candle at a safe distance from other items, and don't put anything flammable on top of it.
- Candles will melt if left in hot environments, such as a car in the summer. Store them in a cool, dry location away from direct sunlight.
▪Prior to Lighting
- Make sure the candlestick is the right size for the candle. Secure the candle in position, ensuring sure it doesn't wobble, and ignite it somewhere out of the way of the wind.
- On the surface of WA-ROUSOKU, a white powder may develop. This is a characteristic of plant-based wax that happens when it crystallizes. It isn't a flaw in the product.
- Please notice that a candle does not need to be pushed down until it reaches the bottom of the holder. It's the right spot when a candle comes to a complete halt and does not move any lower.
- Warm the wax that has remained on the candlestick with warm water, melt it, and then rinse it. Wipe the candlestick clean with a soft cloth and allow it to dry completely before reusing it.
▪While the Fire Is Burning
- To modify the size of the flame, trim the black burnt part of the wick down while the candle is burning. For this, a specialized wick trimmer is recommended. Extinguishing a candle by blowing it out may result in melted wax splattering.
- Avoid putting lit candles too close together. The heat from one candle may melt and run the wax of another neighboring candle. Maintain a clear line of sight for candles.
- Never leave a room without completely extinguishing any burning candles.
- Kindly light candles only in spaces that have been properly maintained.
- Keep candles away from combustible things. Candles should not be placed near furniture, beds, carpets, books, or other paper materials, for example.
- Lighted candles should be kept out of reach of kids and dogs.
If the Japanese candle wick continues to burn and progress on its own, it will eventually burn the wax as well, resulting in a big flame. As a result, you'll need to change the length of the wick and the size of the flame every 1-2 hours with tongs or special wick-cutting scissors. This technique is required for the large-sized Japanese candles (generally, sizes 10 and beyond). Cutting the wick for the lower Wa-rosoku sizes is recommended for safety. This procedure is not required for the sizes 1.5, 2, and 3.
At Waka Store, you can find Japanese candles of your choice in a variety of types and colors.