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Let there be light…

Light. It’s so important, especially at this time of year. The natural light is diminishing as days are becoming shorter. Family traditions and winter religious rituals call for a different quality of light. For me, there is no substitute for beeswax candles.

For my whole life, I can remember Del Mar candles in our home. There was a lovely store in my hometown, The General Store (don’t let the name fool you- it was a pretty fancy store!), that carried these and that’s where my mom purchased them. She had quite the collection of old brass candlesticks that needed to be filled that had been given to her by my grandmother. Ivory was the color of choice, but after a time, she began to mark the seasons with different colors: red for Christmas, blue for spring/summer, green for fall…My grandmother’s collection always had black, which was such a great look!

Needless to say, I caught the brass candlestick bug. I keep a part of my collection on the Baker sideboard that I’ve written about before and have found no better candle than the Del Mar beeswax solid taper in ivory. The candlesticks are very old and have a beautiful glow to their finish- all I do is wipe them to shine them up. Every once in awhile, they do get a bit of a polishing, but I don’t like them when they are too gleaming bright. Silver, yes, but brass, no! The sideboard also has my mom’s creche on it for the holidays. It’s the only one  I’ve known and was hers as a child. I love the peeling paint and the patina of over 80 Christmases of use on the figures …

The General Store is no more, but living in West Hollywood for years I easily found a source for the candles. Then the move out to Phoenix… no luck. I tried other brands of beeswax candles, but they failed. Either the wick didn’t light or it would be buried in wax after a lighting and then need to be dug out- not a good look. Then, success! I found the source, the Holy Grail of the Del Mar beeswax candles! The story of the Del Mar candle is as compelling as the product itself:

Ferdinand Knorr came to the United States in 1904 after fleeing from his native Poland and the Russian Czar. Tinkering in his machine shop and enjoying his hobby of beekeeping proved to be a successful combination. Fred produced an improved honeycomb for his bees and his famous candles soon followed … candles that were drip-less, smokeless and had a gentle fragrance.

The candles were developed in 1928 and initially sold to gift shops and a local inn. The business has been operated by successive generations since 1950. Henry, Judy, and new owner Steve have made Knorr Candle Factory, which makes the Del Mar candles, a continuing success by using only the finest materials and holding on to traditional manufacturing methods. Knorr’s high quality drip-less 100% beeswax candles with top notch wicks are a welcome addition to homes and are regarded truly as an art. They are the highest quality beeswax candle available.

The meticulous craftsmanship that goes into Knorr candles follows the industrious efforts of thousands of bees. 160,000 bees must travel 150,000 miles collecting nectar to produce 60 pounds of honey that yields only 1 pound of beeswax. Pure 100% beeswax candles burn at a rate of 1 to 1 1/2 inches per hour and should be arranged about 4 inches apart out of the way of drafts.

They are equally beautiful on the table and come in solid pillars as well as the tapers. They also sell sheets of wax and honeycomb candles as well as hollow tapers. But for me, the product to have is the solid taper for candlesticks and the pillar for hurricanes. They are expensive, but I truly believe they are something that is really worth their price.

There is nothing better than to bask in the glow of these beeswax candles. The gentle fragrance and the quality of light recall the great churches of Europe, but the good news is that they are made right here!

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