When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Candles

Lemons have been cultivated for over 2,500 years and are thought to have originated in India. Arab traders brought this citrus fruit to Africa and the Middle East. The word “lemon” is derived from the Arabic word, “laymun“.

Initially referred to as “golden apples” in ancient times by the natives of Northern India, this fruit was found to have many uses. In India, the lemon was used to flavor food. The Chinese used lemons as an antiseptic for wounds and as an antidote for poison. The Egyptians used the leaves to make a spicy beverage known as Kashab. This beverage was made by simmering a mixture of fermented barley, mint, rue, black pepper, and lemon leaves. In Cairo lemon juice was mixed with sugar to create Gatarmizat, the world’s first known lemonade which was bottled and exported throughout the Middle East.

Lemon juice mixed with vinegar was used to remove stains from laundry. When mixed with honey, lemon juice helped with relieving sore throats. Tonics made of lemon juice and water were consumed to cleanse the liver. In later years it was learned that lemons had high concentrations of vitamin C. In 1753, a British naval surgeon named James Lind published a “Treatise on Scurvy” in which he recommended the use of lemon juice as a way of eliminating this disease that is caused by vitamin deficiencies. Since military cultures sometimes tend to be conservative and resistant to change, it would not be until 1795 that the British navy implemented the practice of issuing lemon juice to their crews as part of their daily rations.

Moors of the Almohad Caliphate

Lemons came to Europe through two different routes. In 711 AD, Arabs from Syria invaded Spain under the leadership of the Umayyad Caliphate. Internal power struggles combined with a defeat at the hands of the Byzantine Empire in 717 led to a collapse of this dynasty. Their control of the Iberian Peninsula was replaced by the Berbers of the Almohad Caliphate. Also known as Moors, it was these North Africans who brought the lemon tree to Spain.

This citrus fruit was also brought to Europe by soldiers returning from the Crusades in Palestine. By 1150 lemon trees were being cultivated throughout Italy and Southern France. The first major European cultivation of this fruit is thought to have started in Genoa.

Lemons were brought to North America by the Spanish. They were planted by Spanish colonists in what is now Florida, California, and Mexico.

In the United States, the USDA grades lemons as being of grade 1 or 2. The best quality lemons belong to grade 1. Under U.S. Federal regulations (§51.2800), grade 1 quality lemons must be, “mature, firm, fairly well formed, fairly smooth,” and “free from decay” and all blemishes.

Wax lemon before I added the wick

Having recently received a lemon silicone mold from an Etsy vendor, I made a wax lemon to go along with the apple, pear, and orange candles that I have been making. Since the lemon would only have made a very small candle, I decided to stack it on top of a Mandarin orange to create this citrus themed candle.

I will probably NOT be putting this candle into production. One of my issues with lemon candles is that the tapered bottom is quite narrow. While this would not present a problem for an evenly burning candle, an unevenly burnt candle (such as one that has been placed in a draft) could become lop sided and could then possibly tip over.

Although I could mount a lemon on top of an orange as I did with this production test model, my problem with this is that the narrow bottom doesn’t give me a lot of room for connecting the two candles together. While this hasn’t created a problem for candles like the pineapple upside down cake candles featured below, the cherry garnish for this product was buried in the center of five pineapple chunks and cake and had a lot more support. It was also far less heavy than a lemon.

Pineapple upside down cake candles

In keeping with the theme about what to do when life gives you lemons, I just opened my last forty pound case of CC-35 wax and have run into a resupply issue. If you’re a news junkie like I am, you’ve probably seen stories about empty supermarket shelves and delayed shipping for nearly anything that has been ordered on-line. In addition to dealing with a shortage of workers at processing plants and factories, our nation also has a transportation issue. A Covid related shortage of longshoremen i.e. those people who off load cargo from ships, has created a log jam of freighters on the west coast.

Freighters in California waiting to offload cargo

The Omicron variant has resulted in five thousand flights having been cancelled in the United States since Christmas Eve. The trucking industry is short of 60,000 drivers. On top of everything else, the east coast and the mid-west have also been dealing with severe blizzards which have further delayed transportation.

Since I was down to my last case of CC-35 wax, I went on-line to order more from the California Candle Supply. I was sorry to find that they were out of stock because they couldn’t get the ingredients needed to produce this wax.

40 pounds of candle wax

I switched to CCS several months ago after fuel prices doubled the cost of transporting Golden Soy wax from my (former) supplier in Texas. Since California Candle Supply is much closer to Nevada than is the vendor in Texas, switching suppliers saved me money.

Since I don’t have an alternate supplier at this point, I’ve decided to cut back on candle production and will spend the time I would have otherwise spent with making candles by cleaning house. While I would have liked to have continued work with building my backyard pond, I ran out of bricks and mortar to create the planter bed that will hold the excavated dirt. When I went to Lowes to purchase more bricks and mortar, I found that while they had an ample supply of bricks, they were completely out of the mortar I needed. As with so many other retailers, they don’t know when they will be able to restock this product.

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