Styles & Subjects
Europeans first took to the sea to hunt whales in medieval times. The fatty tissue known as blubber, which is found under the skin of all whales, and the spermaceti wax found in the heads of sperm whales made the ideal fuels of oil lamps: They burned with less smoke and odor than other animal fats. Spermaceti could also be made into candles that gave off a bright, clear light. Once the oily parts were removed, the whale’s bones and teeth...