4 ingredient Emergency Candles
These are not your typical candles and they are certainly not the smell good, decorative type. But they are actually some of my favorite emergency candles to have on hand. The best part is they are super easy to make, and you can make them pretty quickly for bulk gifts to friends and neighbors. Although, your honey may not appreciate these as a gift for Valentine’s Day!
These emergency candles can be used for heat, light, and cooking in case of a power failure. They will burn for a long time and the tighter you pack them, the longer they will burn. Emergency candles keep well in cars (smaller cans only), 72 hour kits, homes, or for use when camping and hiking.
Warning: DO NOT remove the candles from the can to burn. The entire top of the can burns when the candle is lighted, and can give off a fair amount of smoke. The larger the can, the larger the flame.
Emergency Candles Supplies
- Hardwood dry Sawdust or wood shavings
- Candle Wax amount depends on the size of the candles and the quantity) DO NOT use Paraffin it is too flammable (Natural soy wax or beeswax is best)
- Old pot that you don’t mind having ruined
- Aluminum roasting pan or cardboard box for mixing
- Larger pot to fit the old pot into (wax is melted using a double boiler method)
- Candle Wicking (#9 or largest mm size wick) length to fit cans
- Clean, dry, used, tin cans (#10, tuna, soup can, etc.)
- Paint stick or old wooden spoon
- Old measuring cup (once again you won’t be using this for cooking)
Step 1: Tape the wick to the center inside bottom of each can. If you are using a #10 can, I suggest you use three wicks.
Step 2: Put the shavings or dust into mixing pan/box. I started with a little less than 1/2 of a 700 cu. in. – compressed bale of natural pine.
Step 3: Melt 3 lbs. wax in old pot using larger pot to create a double boiler. (I purchased a 4 lb. brick) Be careful not to get the wax too hot as it is flammable. Melt a few chunks at a time to avoid having tons of left over melted wax in an old pot and no more cans or sawdust.
Step 4: Pour melted wax over sawdust or shavings one cup at a time, and stir using the paint stick. Continue adding wax and stirring until its like graham cracker crust mix consistency and each piece seems to be covered with wax. Be sure to leave enough melted wax left to seal the candles in step 6.
Step 5: Pack the wax/sawdust mixture into cans, keeping the wick centered, only fill ½” from the top of the can. The harder the mixture is packed the longer the candle will burn for. This packs really well if you let it cool until you can handle it, but not so much that it is starting to harden.
Step 6: Once they are packed and somewhat cooled, pour a thin wax seal on the top of each can.
Step 7: Cut wick ½-1”above the wax seal. My half recipe made 6- soup can, or 18- tuna can size, emergency candles.
Instructions for using your emergency candle
Print out these instructions and place it with your candles.
Place your finished emergency candle on tile or non flammable material before lighting, be sure there is nothing overhead or surrounding it that could catch fire. Remove these instructions from the can. Be sure to have some ventilation as there will be some smoke.
The entire top of the emergency candle will burn. Light wick and enjoy the heat and light when all around you is dark and cold. To put out the flame smother with a metal lid or damp cloth. Blowing will not work.
To use as a cook stove, hammer 3 larger tent stakes (2-3”taller than the can) around the edge of the candle against the can. Place a metal (stainless steel) cooling or grilling rack onto of the stakes and place pot onto of the rack. Light and cook. Watch closely as the flame is big and hot. Stir food consistently and remember it will take less time to cook. The bottom of the pot will also be blackened, but at least you’ve been fed a warm meal.
4-Ingredient Emergency Candle (Version No. 2)
Cardboard can be used in place of the sawdust. Simply roll the cardboard as tightly as possible and place a wick into the center. Insert in the can, making sure its as snug as possible. Pour the hot wax over the cardboard until a tin layer of wax covers the cardboard.
This emergency candle won’t burn as long as the sawdust/shavings one will and will use more wax, but will still work the same way.
5 More Emergency Candle Options:
Here are 4 more emergency candles that you can do yourself mostly from supplies you probably already have in your kitchen and pantry.
1. DIY CRISCO Emergency Candle
Yes, you can make an emergency candle out of vegetable shortening or Crisco. However, don’t try to make the candle out of product’s original container since Crisco comes is a cardboard tube not a tin can which could catch fire if the shortening is heated. (Some folks do make their Crisco emergency candles by sticking a wick in the shortening in the original packaging but they do it at their own risk.)
To make a safe emergency candle from Crisco shortening:
-// Add the vegetable shortening into a fire proof container such as the glass from a spent candle, a baby food jar, a thicker mason jar, or a tin can. However, if you use tin cans and other opaque containers don’t expect the candle to give off too much light. You could use the candle for heating instead.
-// Stick a pre-waxed wick (or several wicks) into the shortening all the way to the bottom and lit them up. Lock the wick(s) in place by leveling the shortening with your hands. It doesn’t have to be perfect as everything will fall into place when the shortening turns liquid.
You can use store-bought pre-waxed candle wicks, a pencil-thin wax candle (you can buy some here), or a birthday candle, depending on the size of your container. You’ll be better off using a super slim candle instead of a wick for several reasons:
- The candle itself takes some time to burn on its own
- The wick won’t fall when the shortening turns hot and liquid
- It will burn the Crisco emergency candle side to side, unlike an improperly sized wick, which may leave leftover shortening on the container’s walls (get a 10″ wick for the large Crisco tub).
How long does a Crisco emergency candle burn? The small can should last around 7 days, the 48 oz one should last between 27 and 45 days. There are some internet stories about the large Crisco container (the 6 lb one) staying lit up to 72 days, but we haven’t tested the theory yet.
2. DIY Mason Jar Oil Lamp
You could build an oil lamp from a mason jar and not require expensive oil lamp to keep it lit. For this project you’ll need just 3 things:
-// Mason jar or another glass container
-// Metal lid
-// Wick or natural fiber like 100% cotton string
-// Chisel and hammer
-// Vegetable oil
- Punch a hole in the center of the metal lid (the hole needs to be wide enough to accommodate the wick but not too wide to let the wick fall into the jar.)
- Insert the wick into the lid
- Fill the mason jar with vegetable oil
- Place the lid with the wick onto the container (half an inch of the wick should be exposed); screw on the lid
- Let the wick saturate with oil for 2 to 5 minutes
- Light it up.
Estimated burn time: Around 2 weeks (for 1 litre or 33.8 fl oz of vegetable oil)
Related Read: The Girls’ Guide to Oil Lamps
3. DIY Emergency Crayon Candle
The emergency crayon candle aka the “Crayondle” can give you much needed light and heat for around 15 minutes. This survival hack is especially useful when the grid goes suddenly down and you forgot to charge your smartphone and there’s no flashlight around.
The Crayondle takes some time to light up but it does burn (almost) like a candle for several minutes. Some people suggest removing the paper at the top before lighting it up. We recommend letting the paper be as this emergency candle already takes some time to get ablaze if it’s bare bones.
Estimated burn time: 12 – 15 minutes
4. DIY Salt and Oil Emergency Candle
This one is a truly emergency candle because you can make it very quickly from stuff you already have at hand in your home. No need for fancy wicks or tools to make this.
You will need:
– // Rock salt/ kosher salt
– // Vegetable oil
– // Cotton ball
– // Toothpick/ matchstick
– // Small glass container
Fill the bottom of a small glass container with salt. Level the salt out and pour vegetable oil on top of it. Don’t fill the entire glass with oil. Leave some room (about half an inch) for the toothpick/ matchstick to be slightly exposed.
Pull the cotton ball apart and wrap it around the toothpick or matchstick. Make sure that you saturate the cotton with vegetable oil while you’re at it. Insert the DIY wick into the glass container all the way down into the salt (the salt’s role is to keep the toothpick-wick upright). Light the top up.
Estimated burn time: Between 2 hours and 15 hours (it depends on the amount of oil used)
5. Emergency Orange Peel Candle
You need an orange lying around the house for this project, along with some olive oil (or any other vegetable oil but olive oil is the most stable when lit up).
Slice the orange in half. Carefully remove the pulp but leave the stem inside intact. Also, make sure that you don’t remove too much of the white layer from the orange peel.
Fill the orange with olive oil. Allow the stem to soak the oil for a few oil Light up and enjoy a makeshift candle you can have ready for use in less than 5 minutes.
Note: You can use any other type of citrus like lemons for this project, but an orange has the right size – not too big nor too small.
Estimated burn time: It depends on the amount of oil used and the size of the orange.
Here are two dozen more smart uses for oranges: 24 Uses for Oranges – Never Waste Another Orange.
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