Modern-day candles are made from a variety of waxes, including beeswax, gel wax, paraffin and vegetable wax. The wick that burns inside the candle is made from braided cotton.
Historically, candles were made from animal fat or whale wax, which often emitted an unpleasant odor when burned. Candles were also made from the wax of bay berries. These candles smelled pleasant but were time-consuming to prepare. Beeswax candles were introduced in the Middle Ages, but the candles were expensive and were used mostly in churches and wealthy homes. Candle-making machines were invented in the 19th century, making candles inexpensive to manufacture.