Modern sources do not connect it to Latin candela. In the literal sense, Old English had ontyndan "kindle, set fire to," from tendan "to kindle" (see tinder). The word was influenced in form, and sometimes in Middle English in sense, by kindel "to give birth" (of animals), "bring forth, produce" (c. 1200), from kindel (n.) "offspring of an animal, young one," from Old English gecynd (see kind (n.)) + -el.
"inferior, bad," 1896, also as a noun, "something worthless," earlier "rotten wood used as tinder" (1680s), "A word in common use in New England, as well as in the other Northern States and Canada" [Bartlett]; perhaps from Delaware (Algonquian) ponk, literally "dust, powder, ashes;" but Gaelic spong "tinder" also has been suggested (compare spunk "touchwood, tinder," 1580s).
"Chinese incense," 1870, according to OED from punk (n.) "rotten wood used as tinder;" for which see punk (adj.).
"inanimate objects that, when contaminated with or exposed to infectious agents, can retain and transfer the disease," plural of fomes (1650s), which is from medical Latin fomes (used in this sense first by Fracastoro, 16c., probably on the notion of "fuel"), from Latin fomes, fomitis "kindling-wood, touchwood, tinder," from fovere "to warm, keep warm" (see fever). The classically incorrect back-formed singular fomite is attested from 1859.
late 14c., "flax prepared for spinning," also "refuse of flax used as kindling," somehow from the source of Old English lin "flax" (see linen). Perhaps from or by influence of French linette "grain of flax," diminutive of lin "flax," from Latin linum "flax, linen;" Klein suggests from Latin linteum "linen cloth," neuter of adjective linteus.
Later "flocculent flax refuse used as tinder or for dressing wounds" (c. 1400). Still used for "flax" in Scotland in Burns' time. Applied to stray cotton fluff from 1610s, though in later use this is said to be American English.