Monday, 2 November 2020

Askews Shares Some Edwardian Magic

When we think about candles our first instinct is to picture one of the many fragranced options that come in a glass jar. These guaranteed providers of a scented boost are present in almost every home or, if they’re not, the equally impressive diffuser is sure to be close at hand. We surround ourselves with so many scents, from washing powder to room sprays, that it can begin to feel a little overpowering. The idea of an unscented candle might seem alien to many but, when they’re as stunning as the ones from Askews, they really can hold their own. So, it’s time to travel back in time and enjoy a little fragrance free magic.

The constant debate about the perfect wax to use for candles has intensified in recent years. Every company claims to have the cleanest, the brightest, the healthiest... the list goes on. However, in reality, there are a few basic waxes that can either be used alone or combined in a custom blend. You’ll also see many claims around the toxic qualities of some of these waxes, but please don’t be fooled by the marketing. To truly evaluate the impact of a candle you need to look at the wax, the fragrance, the production, the shipping, and that’s before you even get to the jar! So, it's not always as simple as it seems.

When Tom, Joe, and George decided to launch Askews they were clear that they wanted to return to a simpler way of candle manufacture. Gone were the fragrances and gone were the jars, and in their place the boys had an idea to start creating decorative pieces. Many companies have done this before, it’s nothing new, but these are often designed to remain intact and never be burned. So, when the trio were looking around at what they could use, they stumbled on bottle designs from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Once cast in wax, these forgotten gems took on a new lease of life.

Custom moulds of the bottles were taken and, from these, the debut collection was made. They decided to use 100% beeswax for the candles, but this wasn’t simply a fashionable choice. The history of using beeswax goes back thousands of years. It’s unclear exactly who “invented” the candle, but many attribute it to the ancient Romans. Rolled papyrus was repeatedly dipped into the molten wax until the candle was formed, and this would then be used for both lighting the home and in religious ceremonies. If you think about it, the wax was simply removed with the honey. So, it’s a very early example of repurposing.

The beeswax candles from Askews burn perfectly down the centre and, whilst not fragranced, they do give off a delicate hint of honeyed wax. The other advantages of beeswax are that the flame has a beautifully golden colour and releases very little soot, as long as it’s not in a drafty spot. The designs truly are stunning, and the hardest part is deciding to light them. I opted for an Alnwick Brewery Bottle and a single Poison Bottle, but I’ve already got my eyes on a Stothert & Sons. If you want a break from the traditional candle then this is for you, and those little poison bottles would be perfect for the Christmas table.

The candles range from £6 to £20 and are available from the Askews Candles website at askewscandles.co.uk. [Samples provided by Joe Askew]

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