Burning the Candle at One End

burning candle on a wooden surface
Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA on Pexels.com

Recently we began occasionally lighting candles in the house. Over the year, we’ve accumulated candles, mostly as gifts I think, and they’ve sat dormant for years. It started with a scented candle at the dinner table one evening. I can’t even recall what the reason was for lighting the candle in the first place, but we did. Then, one evening after the boy had been in our bedroom after a soccer practice and it smelled like a locker room, I lit a candle in there, a cinnamon-scented one, festive for the holidays. I found that I enjoyed it.

The smell of the candle calmed me, and I was mesmerized by the way the shadows jumped on the wall as the candle flickered. The candle was in a glass jar, and that eventually posed a problem that counteracted the calming influence of the candle. You see, for several nights I would light the candle, allow it to burn for an hour or so, and then blow it out before I went to sleep. As time passed, I noticed that the candle was shrinking. This is what one would expect from burning a candle. But more and more, as I watched the candle flicker, a question occurred to me that had never in my life occurred to me before:

What do you do with an empty candle jar?

Eventually, the candle will consume itself, like the death throes of a phoenix. Unlike the phoenix, however, there are no ashes for the candle to rise from anew. When the wax is gone all that’s left is an empty glass jar. And so: what do you do with the empty jar? My instinct is to throw it away. But then I wonder: is it recyclable? Can it be used for another candle? It seemed to me that the candle that was in there was packed in pretty tightly, as if the wax had been poured into the jar from the start and solidified there. Is it even possible to shove another candle into the jar? The opening of the jar is narrower than the body, so I’m thinking that won’t work very well.

Even if it did, the candle jar is cleared labeled with a scent: Sparkling Cinnamon. Does that mean I’d need to replace it with the same scent? If I happened to use a different one, it would be false advertising, and confusing. I might light the candle thinking it is Sparkling Cinnamon only to find that it is Ripe Banana.

I tried to clear my head of these thought. I started at the flickering flame, and told myself not to worry about the glass jar, there was plenty of candle left and plenty of time to figure out what to do with the jar when the candle finally consumed all of its fuel. But was there really plenty of time? I hadn’t been paying attention to how much the candle shrunk after each burn, but now I was consumed by the thought. Instead of watching the shadows on the wall, I trained my eyes on what was left of the candle, wondering if I could see it growing smaller. I could mark a line on the glass, let an hour go by, mark a second line, and make a pretty good guess at when the candle would burn out. But I had nothing to mark the glass with and I was tired and didn’t feel like getting out of bed. Still…

Maybe time was short. Maybe I should stop burning the candles until I could figure out what to do with that empty candle jar.

I am currently on a candle burning hiatus. I need time to decide what to do with the perfectly good empty glass candle jar when the candle finally goes out for the last time.

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