Candles are possibly one of the most pleasant items available to anyone. They infuse a home with color and fragrance that can create a special and satisfying atmosphere. A candle’s distinctive sense of calm and well-being will have guests notice once they walk into a room. Candles have been around for several years as a necessity, however, they have turned into a go-to gift. Candle printing machines have become increasingly popular due to their ability to customize a gift.
A candle contains primarily wax and a wick along with colorants, fragrances, and minor additives. There are a variety of candles in the world today. The basic candle types are tapers, votive, pillars, sticks, jar or container candles, tea lights, gels, liturgical, floating candles, outdoor candles, novelty candles, utility candles, and birthday candles. Although modern technology has introduced greater efficiencies and quality control in candle-making, most candles are made through the timeless process of placing a cotton wick into wax, which is then molded, dipped, extruded, pressed, rolled, drawn or filled into a desired shape and size.
However, candles have a very long history dating back to the Ancient Egyptians where they used wicked candles in 3,000 B.C., but the ancient Romans are generally credited with developing the wicked candle before that time by dipping rolled papyrus repeatedly into melted tallow or beeswax. Candles have evolved over time from using them to light homes and street lights, to using them as decorative items. In the Middle Ages, Europeans introduced beeswax candles, then colonials discovered spermaceti oil coming from whales. In the 19th century, Europeans extracted stearic acid from animal fatty acids to make stearin wax and in 20th century, candles started to trend toward being used in more ornate ways.
The candle market has grown exponentially over the years dating back from the 1800 and 1900s to more recently. Candle sales in the U.S. are estimated at roughly $2.3 billion a year, but this does not include accessories such as candlestick holders. When looking at the industry as a whole it amasses over $3.2 billion in sales annually on average. However, the candle market looks to make a surge in the coming years. From 2017-2021, analysts at the National Candle Association (NCA) predict that sales will grow by 5.88%. Candles are also, a highly optional purchase and sales are greatly influenced by economic climate depending on what season it is. For example, 35% of sales occur around the Christmas/holiday season. Non-seasonal business accounts for approximately 65% of candle sales. Candles are also, mainly purchased by women who account for over 90% of sales!
There are also industry standards that the NCA has created to ensure product quality, safety and corporate responsibility with candles. The current national industry standards for candles have been developed, balloted and published through the ASTM International standards organization. The NCA’s role in the development of candle standards dates back to 1997. In response to increased reports of candle fires, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) asked the NCA to lead an ASTM subcommittee to develop consensus standards for improving candle fire safety. The ASTM Subcommittee on Candle Products was created, which includes members of the NCA, the CPSC, fire officials, safety organizations and other interested parties. They came up with key standards that candles must obtain when they are produced. Three of the top key ASTM standards for candles consist of:
There are more than 400 candle manufacturing companies in the United States as well as scores of craft producers who make candles for local or non-commercial use. From specialty or gift shops to department/home décor stores to mass merchandisers, there are several options to purchase candles.
Candle shoppers are very particular when it comes to what they want in a candle. The most important factors that people look for include scent, color, shape, and price. As mentioned, over time, trends and uses for candles have changed. Candles used to not be just for decorative needs but a necessity to lighthouses, shops, and street lights. Now, people mainly use candles for their decorative needs, especially with home décor. For example, approximately one in five women say they use candles to decorate the yard, patio or other exterior areas, as well as the interior of their home. Consumer demand for home fragrance products has helped feed a massive economic boom in the candle industry as sales have grown at a rate of ten percent or more each year starting in 2000. The market for luxury candles is creating an overall growth in the home fragrances market as well. Candles come in all types of shapes and sizes as well as scents. Furthermore, social media is helping drive the home fragrance candle market, creating a surge in Internet sales.
Consumers purchasing candles know what they want from size, shape, price, etc. However, looking at the most impactful piece affecting candle purchases today is fragrance. Three-fourths of candle buyers say the fragrance is “extremely important” or “very important” in their selection of a candle. Nine out of ten candle users also say they use candles to make a room feel comfortable or cozy so one can get a good sense of what a consumer is looking for in a candle.
In addition to their preference in candles, approximately three-fourths of candle consumers say they typically burn candles for 4 hours or less per sitting and the majority of U.S. consumers use their candles within a week of purchase. People using candles also, frequently display them in the living room (42%), followed by the kitchen (18%) and the bedroom (13%). Candles are used as very popular gifts for events or celebrations as they are always an appreciated gift. Candle purchasers say they view candles as a suitable gift for the holidays (76%), as a housewarming gift (74%), a hostess/dinner party gift (66%), a thank you (61%) and as adult birthday gifts (58%).
However, a major trend occurring in the candle decoration market today is customization and personalization. What can truly augment a customers’ desire for a product is their ability to customize the product for an event or for an individual? In today’s business environment, customization is bigger than ever, and even the largest of companies now customize their products. M&M’s will customize their candy, Nike lets customers pick the colors and designs on their sneakers, and Inkcups has made it simple to customize an individual mug, coaster and apparel items.
Aside from home décor, candles can be customized and used at events such as weddings, baby showers, graduations etc. For weddings, many brides can look to offer favors of candles that match their wedding colors or have a customized label on the jar featuring information that is personalized to the wedding couple. Personalized pictures and many other prints can be printed right onto the label as well. For graduations, layered candles can be used with school colors. Layered candles are excellent because multiple fragrances are offered in the same candle. Layered candles can also, be made in both pillars and containers.
Package innovations with candles can give customers a reason to purchase certain candles or even reuse the packages after the candle has been burned. There are many ways to reuse candles and they can get expensive as well. If one spends $60 (or more) on a single candle, it would make sense to enjoy that luxury purchase for as long as they can. Even after the candle has been burned, the appealing glass container it came in can still be used to beautify or even organize a home. After scooping out the remaining wax from the container and cleaning it, there are endless possibilities for these jars/containers. From using them as a utensil holder, crafting supply holder, planting a flower, or just to hold your toothbrush, consumers can now have the option to reuse their candle jars in many different forms.
Candles are also getting more decorative when it comes to their labels. Companies have adopted various forms of candle printing machines onto the candle jars and containers using stickers, pad printing, screen printing or sublimation.
Cylindrical screen printing is one way to imprint glass candle containers. It is a unique process where the screen moves onto the glass, rotating the vessel while the squeegee is stationary. The glasses are printed one color at a time and then sent through a 400-degree oven. When properly cured, the screen printed glasses adhere to the glass. Pad printing is used for smaller imprints as well as imprints on the lids of the jar candles and the travel candles. This type of printing allows the user to perform complex designs on uneven surfaces. The pad picks up a design from an engraved cliché and places the design on the imprinted substrate. Additionally, sublimation is a multi-step process where images and artwork can be printed on a variety of substrates including glass, ceramic, or glass. Usually, the image is taped onto the item it is being printed on, preheated and then fully heated (sublimated) onto the candle.
A new type of technology that is being introduced into the market is the ability to inkjet print directly onto a substrate. This type of decoration for printing on candles allows one to create fully customized candles in seconds. Not only does the ink cure right after printing, but the process is direct-to-shape. For cylindrical objects specifically, a rotary inkjet printer is used to print 360-degrees around practically any substrate.
Candles have a very long history and have gone from being a necessary tool for people hundreds of years ago to an ornamental product today. There are many ways to market candles to customers with artwork personalization, fragrances, shapes, and sizes. There will always be a need for candles as customers look to use them in a variety of ways including events, holidays, gifts or celebrations. The candle industry looks to continue its success in the coming years and with new innovative options to print on, scents, sizes, shapes, etc., candle lovers will be very pleased with where the industry is headed.