What Does It Mean To Candle Someone?


Candling is the process of shining a bright light through a translucent or semi-translucent object to examine the interior contents. It has been used for centuries across various fields, originally starting as a practice in agriculture and egg inspection. The term candling comes from the original practice of using a candle as the light source. Today, powerful electric lights have replaced candles, but the name has remained.

The origins of candling date back hundreds of years. Egg farmers and inspectors would use candles or kerosene lamps to examine the interior quality of eggs, looking for potential issues like cracks, infertility, or embryo development. The ability to see inside the egg without breaking it open was invaluable. This eventually expanded into other agricultural practices like beekeeping, allowing inspection of beehives for health and productivity.

Candling Eggs

Candling is a process used to check the fertility and development of eggs. It involves shining a bright light through the egg shell to observe the interior (source: https://www.raising-happy-chickens.com/candling-eggs.html). This allows you to see the air cell, yolk, and blood vessels inside the egg without cracking it open.

Candling is done by holding the large end of the egg up to a bright light source inside a dark room. A bright flashlight orspecial candling light can be used. When lit from behind, the contents inside the egg will be visible. Clear eggs indicate an early stage before fertility can be determined. Later, the network of veins inside developing embryos becomes visible (source: https://insteading.com/blog/candling-eggs/).

Chicken eggs are typically candled after 7 days of incubation to check for fertility and development. Candling allows you to identify and remove any eggs that are infertile or contain dead embryos before they rot and damage other eggs. Candling every few days allows you to monitor growth inside the egg.

Candling in Beekeeping

Candling has been an essential practice in beekeeping for inspecting the health and productivity of beehives. Beekeepers use candling to examine honeycomb frames and look inside the wax cells without opening them. The frames are held up to a bright light, which illuminates the comb and brood area. This allows beekeepers to assess the patterns, quantities, and health of eggs, larvae, and sealed brood within the cells (Bee Natural Ear Candles).

Candling enables beekeepers to monitor for signs of disease, pests, and other issues without disrupting the hive. It can identify problems like chalkbrood fungal spores, foulbrood bacterial infections, and varroa mite infestations. Candling also reveals the strength of the queen based on the consistency of brood pattern and amount of sealed worker brood. In addition, it shows nectar levels and honey storage progress. By regularly candling frames, beekeepers can maintain healthier colonies with higher honey yields.

Candling for Bodywork

Some alternative medicine practitioners use the technique of candling on areas of the body, not just the ears. The aim is to bring balance to the energy systems and stimulate circulation. This type of candling involves placing one end of a hollow candle over a specific part of the body, such as acupressure points, chakras, or along the spine. The other end of the candle is lit to create gentle heat and suction. Some practitioners claim this can help remove toxins, open blocked energy, and promote healing.

According to Everything Zen Massage, body candling is said to help correct imbalances in the energy field and allow blocked energy to flow freely again. Proponents believe it stimulates energy meridians, loosens stiff joints, relieves sore muscles, and can aid with conditions like arthritis, rheumatism, and nerve damage. However, these claims lack scientific evidence. More research is needed on the effectiveness and risks of body candling.

Origins and History

The practice of candling eggs has been around for centuries. It dates back to ancient China over 1,000 years ago, where the technique was used by village farmers to check the fertility of chicken eggs before incubating them. Candling allowed farmers to identify clear, fertilized eggs versus eggs that were cloudy or contained blood spots. This helped save time and resources by preventing unviable eggs from being incubated unnecessarily.

The name “candling” comes from the original method of using a candle to shine light through the egg shell. Farmers would hold a fertilized egg up to a candle flame in a dark room to see inside the shell. With the invention of electric lights, specialized hand-held candling devices were created to make the process easier and more accurate.

According to this source, egg candling techniques were pioneered in ancient China before spreading to other parts of Asia, Europe, and eventually America starting in the 17th century. Candling remained primarily an agricultural practice until advancements in technology expanded its applications in the modern era.

Candling Techniques

a man in a beekeeper suit inspecting a honeycomb frame by candling it with a flashlight
There are several techniques and tools used for candling eggs or bee hives:

Eggs can be candled with a bright focused light like a flashlight or a specialized egg candler that lets the light shine through. Professional egg candlers often use handheld LED lights designed specifically for seeing inside eggs. Candling tools like the ones from Balacoo provide cool, bright light to observe the embryo without damaging heat (cite url 1).

When candling eggs, the egg is held up to the light in a dark room and rotated to see the entire interior. Clear unfertilized eggs will look empty, while a developing embryo will appear as a dark spot or network of veins. The air cell on fertilized eggs can be monitored as the chick grows. Experienced candlers can determine the age and viability of eggs by what they see inside (cite url 2).

For bee hives, a bright flashlight can also be used. Beekeepers open up the hive and shine light through the honeycomb frames to observe the brood pattern and development. A dark frame signifies honey storage while lighter comb with larvae indicates active brood rearing. Any abnormalities can be identified with careful candling.

Accuracy and Limitations

Candling can be a fairly accurate process for detecting defects and abnormalities in eggs, embryos, and bee colonies when done properly. However, there are some limitations to the accuracy and effectiveness of candling.

According to research, the accuracy of candling eggs depends on several factors including the candling method, the age of the eggs, the speed at which the eggs move through the candling apparatus, and the light source used (Some factors affecting mass candling performance of eggs). Manual candling by experienced personnel tends to be more accurate than rapid, automated candling processes. Candling eggs too early, before the embryo has developed sufficiently, can lead to poor accuracy. Slower candling belt speeds improve accuracy, as do proper light sources like mercury lamps.

For bee colonies, the accuracy of candling depends on the candler’s skill and ability to interpret what they are viewing inside the hive. The activities of the bees and opacity of the comb can make it challenging to get a clear view in some cases. Candling may not reliably detect nuanced issues like low food reserves or minor hive beetle infestations (Importance of automated candling and egg removal during …).

When candling the human body, accuracy is limited by the density of tissues, presence of hair, and variations in skin pigments. Candling works best on relatively thin body parts like hands and feet. Accuracy is lowered when attempting to evaluate thicker or deeper tissues.

Overall, candling can provide valuable information about the internal contents of eggs, bee colonies, and the human body, but various factors limit the accuracy and completeness of the assessments.

Candling in Different Fields

Candling is a technique that has applications in various fields beyond inspecting eggs and bee hives. Some other common uses of candling include:

Geology – In geology, candling refers to holding a mineral sample up to a strong light source to observe its optical properties and identify key features. This allows geologists to quickly characterize and identify mineral specimens (https://www.brinsea.com/brochures/EggCandling.pdf).

Martial Arts and Energy Work – Some martial arts and energy healing practices use candling to assess the flow of energy or qi in the human body. Practitioners will scan a person’s body with their hands or pass a lit candle over the skin to detect blockages or imbalances (https://layinghens.hendrix-genetics.com/en/articles/egg-candling/).

Gemology – Gemologists may use candling to analyze the optical properties of gemstones and detect treatments or flaws. The stone is placed in front of intense light to reveal its clarity and any inclusions.

Medicine – Candling was historically used in medicine to diagnose certain conditions by observing shadows and light transmission through body tissues. However, this practice has been replaced by more advanced imaging techniques.

Modern Technology

As technology has advanced, new methods of essentially “candling” have emerged that are more advanced and effective. The most notable example is ultrasound technology. Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of structures inside the body. It can provide far more detailed and precise views than traditional candling methods.

Ultrasound is now routinely used in medical settings for viewing fetuses during pregnancy. The images produced are vastly superior to trying to candle the womb of a pregnant woman. Ultrasound technicians can clearly see the baby’s development in detail and even produce 3D renderings.

Ultrasound is also sometimes used by beekeepers to examine bee colonies and track the development of larvae without physically opening up hives. The non-invasive nature makes it preferable to traditional candling in many instances.

X-rays and other imaging technologies similarly allow internal visualization without the limitations of basic light candling. While candling paved the way for seeing inside objects, modern technology has far surpassed its capabilities and allowed more ethical and humane practices.


In summary, candling is a technique that involves shining a bright light through an egg to observe the growth and development inside. It has been practiced for centuries, originally using candlelight to inspect eggs. Today, specialized candling lamps are used to evaluate eggs in settings like poultry farming and beekeeping.

The main reasons for candling include assessing fertility, embryo development, and identifying cracks/flaws in egg shells. When performed multiple times during incubation, it allows farmers to track the progress and catch issues early. Proper candling requires technique to hold the egg and light source correctly. It takes some practice to accurately interpret what is seen inside the egg.

While candling technology has modernized with lights and digital imaging, the basic principle remains unchanged. It continues to be an inexpensive, simple, and effective way for poultry farmers and beekeepers to gather valuable insights on their flocks and colonies. When done properly, candling provides information that supports the health and productivity of egg-laying animals.

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