Most evenings I light my home exclusively by candle. This isn’t an anti-tech luddite screed despite home technology failing us (it has) or a disaster (which will strike) prep checklist. This is an appreciation for an often overlooked part of our day.
I type this on my iPad surrounded by a small amount of candles giving my room not much warmth but just enough light to tell my circadian clock what time of day it is. Sure, I know the time is after sundown in the evening on a Sunday night (haven’t you heard of clocks?) Yet for some reason I can’t leverage my thoughts to override how my body feels. Life would be so much easier if we could think away things we know aren’t true.
Back to lighting. A majority of us spend our time in places explicitly not lit by candles. For homes, offices and other buildings, we may rely on the original candle — the sun — to provide light. Other places despise us by seriously using fluorescent lights with the audacity to persist well into the night. More effective than a candle in every metric sure but at the cost of wellbeing. Mass lighting has overlooked the effects color temperature has on our circadian rhythm. Can you believe we have to put up with 5000 K (a cool blue) lighting as if the day doesn’t change in warmth and color? We crave daylight. The sun high in the sky tells our body “Hey, it’s noon. You should wander into that open field and never go back to something less than what you deserve”. Lighting not in tune with day tells us something far less pleasant.
We’ve tried to get around parts of this problem with sepia and dark modes in our apps, color temperature changes based on time of day and more efficient lighting. But all of that pales (pun intended) to the almighty candle. Technology unchanged for centuries and never needing a software update — its perfection is derived from its simplicity and utility.
As days progress and the sun goes down, our first though is to turn on a light. Doing so defeats the magical changes of every day’s golden hour turning to the much ignored blue hour. Think about that friend who wakes up at 5AM just to see the sun rise and start their day. You’re probably wondering how anyone could wake up before 9:12AM but how lovely it must be to start the day with the sun rising. This is the same energy. Resist the temptation to turn on your electric lights and revel in the darkness. Then, light a candle during nautical twilight. Pro tip: you don’t have to be at sea to do this.
Candles get reduced to an accessory you add to your bedroom when you’re with a lover (too little light) or trying to decorate a place of worship for a movie (far too much light). A few pillar candles per room and an occasional candle stick make up for the harsh non-adjustable glow of a bulb. How many candles should you get? Depends on your living arrangement. I like a few medium pillars candles in places I’ll be for the evening with a large candlestick where I’ll be reading or writing. More importantly, please practice fire safety (remember disaster striking?) and use a hurricane or non flammable surface to hold a candle
This post could have been a tutorial about adjustable LED lighting (again, disaster awaits) you might be saying. I’d agree. The efficiency of being able to change light temperature is powerful and a great parlor trick for guests. However, the power of just enough light at the end of blue hour’s turn can’t be made up so easily.