Candling is a method used in embryology to study the growth and development of an embryo inside an egg. The method uses a bright light source behind the egg to show details through the shell, and is so called because the original sources of light used were candles.
The technique of using light to examine eggs is used in the egg industry to assess the quality of edible eggs.
This technique can also be used to assess the quality and development stage of certain translucent plant seeds, especially those of Lilies and their close relatives. Ripe, viable seeds have a visible embryo within them when viewed in transmitted light, so good seeds can be sorted out from the non-viable seeds and chaff, if desired. Candling is a highly useful method with certain species that germinate erratically or very slowly, as seed germination causes the embryo to enlarge. Candling can thus be used to estimate the optimal time for planting seeds that are being stratified. Care must be taken during candling, as drying or overheating will kill the developing seeds.