Are candles still relevant?
Updated: Feb 4, 2020
Candles consist of a wick surrounded by wax. The wick is lit and it burns along with the wax. The fire produces light as well as heat. Candles were used for light and heat in the olden times, when they still needed candles said things like “ye olde.”
Candles, however useful they may have been in those times, are now useless, at least pragmatically. Nowadays, they are used mainly for aesthetic purposes to create a specific atmosphere — one of the olden times. Besides this, can candles still serve a purpose in our contemporary times?
Let’s talk about using candles for light. Are they comparable to modern light bulbs in terms of efficiency? I find Home Depot’s comprehensive list of light bulbs, as well as a nice comparison chart. To give candles a fighting chance, we’ll choose the least efficient light bulb – the incandescent bulb. It lasts 750 hours and produces 15 lumens of light per watt. Looking at a few random ones gives me an average of $2 per bulb and the average cost of electricity seems to be 12 cents per kilowatt-hour. Running a 10-watt light bulb for its entire lifespan would produce 150 lumens of light and cost $2 for the bulb and $0.90 for the electricity for a total of $2.90 over the course of a month. This is already not looking great for the candle.
I Googled “candle” and was met with Yankee Candle, who apparently makes “America’s best loved candles!”, according to the little blurb on Google. This is an outrageous and dubious claim — so outrageous, in fact, that I have decided to abandon my line of questioning and investigate Yankee Candle’s claim that they make “America’s best loved candles!”
I find the Yankee Candle’s About Me page, which has a different, more focused, claim: “America’s favorite brand of premium scented candles”. These claims still are unsourced, so I plan to investigate this for myself.
Ibis World provides industry and market research in a broad range of markets. There is a report from October 2016 by Jonathan DeCarlo titled Candle Manufacturing in the US, which seems to be extremely relevant to our situation. With the density of facts and figures present, I feel smarter and more involved in worldly matters just by scrubbing through this industry report.
From that report, I have learned many things, things that I did not wish to learn — things better left unknown. This extremely in depth knowledge of the American candle industry as of October 2016 has allowed me to rise above the mortal man and given me the opportunity to become godlike in my knowledge of the American candle industry. But in a more literal sense, the report has also given me the market share of Yankee Candle – 40.1%. That’s a big number and everyone else in the industry has very low numbers.
I’d say that a company with almost half the U.S. market share has a very good claim to “America’s best loved candles!” So, now, I’d like to apologize the fine people at Yankee Candle and personally to Mike Kittredge, founder of Yankee Candle who made his first candle at the age 16 in 1969.