The Candleworks

Photo:Lamp globe advertising Young's Paraffin Light and Mineral Oil Works

Lamp globe advertising Young's Paraffin Light and Mineral Oil Works

Almond Valley Heritage Centre. All rights reserved.

Photo:Boys putting the wicks into nightlights, then packing them up.

Boys putting the wicks into nightlights, then packing them up.

Almond Valley Heritage Centre. All rights reserved.

Addiewell candle works produced candles that were works of art.

In 1902, the West Lothian Courier carried a detailed report on how candles were made from West Lothian shale.  

It has already been explained how the solid wax from which the candles are made is obtained. The cooling and filtering was also described, and it is now left to say that after the filtering has taken place, the solid paraffin is taken to hydraulic plate-presses, where it undergoes a pressure of 30 cwts. per square inch on the ram. The paraffin scale or crude wax is then purified in the sweating chamber, which consists of a series of steel trays into which the melted scale is allowed to cool until it is solid. The water is run off, and then the doors of the chamber are closed and steam introduced to a series of pipes round the chamber and underneath the trays. The temperature is gradually raised, until the oil still contained in the paraffin has oozed out, and in this manner the wax becomes gradually purified. This operation completed, the temperature is still further raised in order to entirely melt the remaining wax. It is then transferred to other vessels, where the remaining impurities are extracted by a treatment with a proportion of animal charcoal.

After the wax has passed through filtering vessels it is known as semi-refined paraffin wax. To make candles the semi-refined paraffin requires to be still further dealt with before it attains the requisite quality for the higher class candles, surgical and electrical insulating purposes, etc. The semi-refined paraffin is again melted and treated with naphtha, run into tins, and cooled into cakes. These cakes are wrapped in sheets and placed in horizontal hydraulic presses heated with steam. In this manner the remaining easily melted wax, as well as the bulk of the naphtha, is squeezed out. After a repetition of this, the wax is thoroughly steamed to extract the remaining naphtha. It is once more taken to the animal charcoal treating department, where it undergoes a similar process to that already described. The paraffin wax is then delivered into vats in the candle work in a liquid condition, in which condition it is kept until the candlemakers come to take it away in pails to their machines.



 These machines are simple looking in construction, and their very simplicity is a testimonial to the inventor. The framework is principally of cast-iron. At the top is an iron water-tight box, and suspended from the bed which overlies the box, and immersed in the water, are the candle moulds, which are made of special metal.  At the base of the machine are a number of pins fitted with bobbins, on which the wick for the candles is wound. This wick is secured to the top of the candle mould. Taking a canful of liquid wax from the vats, the candlemakers pour it into the bedplate, from which it flows into the individual moulds, the wick meantime stretching up the centre. The steam which has till now being permitted to flow into the box to prevent the wax cooling too suddenly, is now turned off, and cold water allowed to flow freely around the moulds. In this way, the wax is solidified, and when sufficiently hard, the candlemaker again applies the steam that the candles may leave the mould easily. A little planing at the bottom of the candles (which are now upside down), and the operation is complete.  

Photo:Hand decorated candles made in Addiewell candle works.

Hand decorated candles made in Addiewell candle works.

Almond Valley Heritage Centre. All rights reserved.


Varieties of candles

Various varieties of candles are produced in this way, and the moulds are capable of turning out from 1 to 72 candles in the lb. The number of the moulds in each machines varies from 36 to 300 per charge. The candles, when they are completed, present a striking contrast to the dirty –looking material in the form of shale from which they were made, and this contrast is all the

more striking in the case of the decorative candles, on which flowers, etc., are hand-painted. This candle business at Young’s works is an extensive one, a statement which will readily be admitted when it is mentioned that sometimes the output amounts to 100 tons a week.

West Lothian Courier , 5 December 1902, page 2.

This page was added by Sybil Cavanagh on 24/03/2013.

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