Monday, January 12, 2015

Pioneer Candle Making by Kathleen Ball

I am utterly fascinated as I research the lives of the American Pioneers. I don't know how they had time to get everything done. Much was done out of necessity. Flipping a switch to light a room is something I do without much thought but in the pioneer days having light in your house required planning and hard work. Most log cabins and sod houses had only one window if they had any. 

 Candlemaking was an important and vital household chore. Every housewife made a supply of candles in the fall. The Pioneer candlemakers followed in the footsteps of the candlemaking techniques practiced during the Colonial era. In the pioneer states of Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, the women had brought their knowledge of candlemaking to the frontier.

 All suet and fat from cows, sheep and pigs were conserved carefully.  Every housewife made a supply of candles in the fall. Candle rods, each with a row of wicks attached, were repeatedly dipped into big iron kettles of boiling water and melted tallow. It was all-day, back-breaking, smelly, unpleasant “women's work.” To make the wicks, women could either buy cotton twist, or use the silky down from milkweed pods.

Later, the tallow was mixed with powdered gum camphor. Finer candles with scent were made with wax from the bayberry or wax myrtle. These inventive women even achieved decorative effects by layering wax dyed with the red juice of poke berries, made green from wild nettles, or yellow from alder bark, as well as other natural dyestuffs.

So much hard work to exist out West. I admire these folks who packed up everything and made the move westward knowing of the dangers and hard work ahead of them.

I'm Kathleen Ball and I write Western Romance. You can find me at Http://

I do have a free book Texas Haven available on Amazon
Thank you so much for stopping by!


julie beasley said...

They just did what they had to do then. It's nice to know they liked nice things even in the harsh conditions. We take so much for granted today

ABeaudry said...

Hard working men and women were the ones who survived! There were no welfare handouts for the lazy. Great post!