Monday, November 1, 2010

Tallow Summer Candles

While researching information for some of the domestic chores my character in 1870 is doing, I came across this recipe for Tallow Summer Candles. The source is "An Invaluable Collection of About Six Hundred Practical Recipes" by A. W. Chase, M.D. ©1860. The recipe seems more complicated than what my character will be doing but I found it an interesting process to share with all of you.

Tallow Candles, for Summer Use.-—Mrs. 0. H. Price, of Ky., sends the following item of household practice to the editor of the American Agriculturist:

"As I have just made some of the nicest tallow candles I ever saw, I will give my recipe for the benefit of young housekeepers. I bleached and hardened 34 pounds of very soft and yellow tallow and one pound of black beeswax, by gently boiling the tallow out-door in the sun 2 days, in 2 gals, of weak lye, stirring and skimming it often. Each morning I cut out thetallow and scraped off the bottom that was soft, and put in fresh lye. The third day I put in fresh water, in which was dissolved 1 lb. of alum, 1 lb. of saltpetre, and a little bluing. After simmering, stirring, skimming, and straining it, it was as clear and white as sperm, and ready to dip.
I bleached my wick very white, and gently twisted it around small cane rods; allowing for 1 doz. candles to weigh 2 lbs., I put on wicks for 15 doz.. candles for the 34 lbs. of tallow. When the tallow was hot, I put 1-2 oz. of oil of bergamot in, which perfumed it sweetly. I then dipped the candles in the usual way, making them rather shorter for summer, but as large as mouldcandles. When done, the end of the wick should be dipped in turpentine, to cause them to light quickly, and the candles are ne plus ultra. Talk of a perfumed breath—it is not more agreeable than a perfumed candle. (I think I deserve a patent for my invention, but I will give it to your readers gratis.) We dipped them in two hours, and did not have one drop of tallow on the floor ! We had two or three pounds left—it is not well to dip too close. We dipped them twice over after cutting 'off the encls, and as. the weather was cool we boxed them immediately, to keep them from cracking, putting paper between each layer.

Another Recipe for making Lard & Tallow Candles comes from Debbie Coleman in 1855 in what was titled simply "Cook Book."

The following method of making the above named candles is described in the New England Farmer by a correspondent: "I kept both tallow and lard candles through the last summer, the lard candles standing the heat best, and burning quite as well and giving as good light as tallow ones. Directions for making good candles from lard: For 12 lbs. of lard, take 1 lb. of saltpetre and 1 lb. alum; mix and pulverize them; dissolve the saltpetre and alum in a gill of boiling water; pour the compound into the lard before it is quite all melted; stir the whole until it boils, and skim off what rises; let it simmer until the water is all boiled out, or till it ceases to throw off steam; pour off the lard as soon as it is done, and clean the boiler while it is hot. If thecandles are to be run, you may commence immediately; if to be dipped, let the lard cool first to a cake, and then treat it as you would tallow."


  1. FYI . . . for some reason this page has become unreadable for me . . . there are highlighted areas covering the lines of text . . . and it would appear that the highlights and the color of the text are the same?

  2. Fixed, thanks for pointing it out. I'm not sure what happened.