Friday, 11 July 2014

Church Candles - A guide for churchwardens (and others)

Having recently found myself in conversation with a churchwarden over the issue of communion wine and wafers the conversation turned to the ever present issue of church candles. Oil-filled or made of wax? And if you go for wax do you want 'natural' or should you pay the extra for white?

Having decided on the material the candles are made from you are then faced with further choices:

What diameter candles would you like? 
For they come in a variety of diameters (imperial or metric) ranging from 1/2" through to 4" in old money (13 - 100mm in new) .

How long would you like it?
No, I don't mean the burning time (but this is a consideration) but the length of the blessed thing!
They come in a variety of lengths ranging from 6" through to 42" (150 - 1060mm).

Burning time
Just when you thought you had it all squared away some clever soul will ask you, 'How long would you like them to burn?" The answer is simple in that I don't want to be changing them during the service!

But this is a good question because some candles burn slower than others and so last longer and present a bit of economic consideration because if the cost a little more and last a lot longer then the burn per hour per pence factor comes into play (Yes, I was bitten by a real candle anorak).

If your candle is 1 1/2" (30mm) x 12" (300mm) and it burns for 21 hours at £1.98 and another burns for 13hrs @ £1.79 then you're paying 9.42 pence per hour for the more expensive candle versus 13.77 for what appeared at first glance to be the cheaper second option.

Now although this really is anorak world stuff there are some serious issues her in that a church with three services on a Sunday may well clock up 240 minutes of use on a Sunday which means you're getting through a pair of candles (assuming you're not in Pugin of course) every five weeks on the 'expensive' candles and every three weeks with the cheaper! So putting cost aside where are you  going to store all the candles you'll need (24 expensive would last a year of 'normal Sundays whilst you're going to need 36 of the cheaper) and they all take up space!

And then one of the smart people in the DCC/PCC pipes up with, 'I went to a church last weekend and they had really nice plastic candles what worked off of oil and . . . '

But that's for another day.

St George's, Whittington all ready to celebrate St Thomas
(12 candles in all - 3 different sizes!)

As a postscript:
The same applies to tealights but without the diameter issue (but would you like them in foil, red or blue plastic, clear casing or . . . . )
Wilkinsons do 100 for £2 with a rated burn time of 3.5 hours which is great value as the last lot I purchased from a 'proper church suppliers)  around £9.50 (with delivery) for the same number of them in the box and I bought them in bulk (five boxes - what a mug I was then) :-)


burning money said...

Passed this on to to my wardens. Our current candles are 12inch and burn for 14 hours and first place I looked found same size for 30p more and 22hours burn time.

Never considered this as a means of being prudent. We have literally been burning money we could have used elsewhere.

Thanks for being a candle anorak

Vic Van Den Bergh said...

How cool is this?

Just had an email to say that I've saved a church some £70 pa because I've been a church candle anorak!

I love this job :-)

(and that's £70 more towards the Parish Share)

Church Warden said...

I have been a churchwarden for sixteen years and have never considered the cost per hour of the candles we use.

I have just checked on the number of candles we use and found that we get through a pair a month for £4.90 (£58.80) and have just found a company that charge £3.30 for candles that would last for six weeks. That's a saving of just over £32 which although it sounds like a little is most welcome.

Thank you

Lorenzo said...

Ye're all heretics. True catholics only use beeswax (only found in Battersea these days, as far as I'm aware) and on't count the cost... Let your right hand and all that... just jesting (bar the beeswax, save the little things), nice post