5 Ways to Make Candles From Household Items

When an extended emergency occurs, using the resources you have on hand or around your property may be your only option and hope at surviving.

Emergency lighting will be an important aspect of your preparedness supplies. If you find yourself without lighting, with a little creativity you can make your own candles using bush craft techniques, or with items found around the home.

Here are five easy ways to make candles if you happen to find yourself in a pinch:

  1.  Candle Stubs – The easiest way to make a new candle is to cut up older, burned down candles, melt the wax and make a new one. Old candle stubs can also be used as a base with other candle waxes poured on top. Finding a wick may be your largest challenge. Read below for some suitable replacements:
  • Cotton string or twine
  •  Paper towel
  • Torn pieces of cloth
  • Shoe lace (with the plastic coating cut off)
  • Old cotton sock (that is clean) torn into strips
  • Cotton towel torn into strips

Whichever alternative wick you choose to use, ensure the wick is a suitable size to burn the candle. Further, remember to prime the wicks by soaking them in melted wax and stirring for a minute or two and allow to dry.  This makes the candle burn more efficiently. When placing the wick in the melted wax, be very careful not to burn yourself. Tying the wick to a pencil that will sit on the top of the container or mold is a good way to ensure the wick stays in place and your fingers are away from the hot wax.

2. Broken Crayons – When I was a child, my church showed me how to do this and I never forgot it. To make a crayon candle, simply remove the paper from the crayons and place them in a container to melt such as a used metal coffee can, soup can, etc. Place the container in a pot of hot water (resembling a double broiler method) and allow water to come to a boil. Melt the crayons over medium heat. Pour into the desired mold and add a wick. Be sure that the wick is fairly centered and running the entire length of the container. Allow the candle to sit until it has hardened.

3. Lard or vegetable oil – Used cooking oils and even oil-packed canned goods can be used to create lighting. Canned meat in oils are great for a makeshift candle.

  • Simply trim your wick to about double the size of the can.
  • Hammer a nail through the middle of the can and wiggle it around to make a larger hole.
  • Stuff your wick inside the hole and leave about 1/2 a millimeter exposed.
  • Place the can in a dish and light it up.
  • The candle should burn for a few hours.
  • The food content can be eaten after the oil has burned out.

4. Vaseline – This is another household item that can be used as a makeshift candle that burns on it’s own for 30 minutes. This method can also be used as an easy firestarter. All you need is some used foil, a cotton ball and some vaseline. To see directions for how to make this type of emergency candle, click here.

5. Bayberry – Early colonists used these berries as a way of making candles. Note that large quantities of bayberries are needed to create one candle. In fact, four pounds of berries produce approximately one pound of wax. Bayberry wax is collected by boiling the berries. The waxy substance rises to the top of the water. This is skimmed off and made into candles. Bayberry candles give off a delicious scent that many enjoy and are virtually smokeless. The directions are below:

  • Boil your bayberries in water to cover.
  • Chill and remove the sheet of wax that forms on the top.
  • Melt a candle stub (white) or a cake of paraffin to make a candle base.
  • Add the bayberry wax and strain through cheesecloth. Keep on the back of the stove.
  • Add your wick into a desired mold and then add melted wax. Allow to cool.

Bayberry wax is very brittle, therefore, keep your candles small or make tapered candle sticks to ensure the candles stay in tact.

Getting creative and thinking outside of the box could help you meet some of your basic survival needs. Using the aforementioned ideas for making candles can help keep the lights on when the lights go out. Candles do emit carbon monoxide, so please keep you and your family safe by ensuring that candles are placed in a well ventilated room and never leave a candle burning unattended.

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published May 30th, 2012
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  • http://www.preparednessadvice.com/ Howard

    I like the information on the bayberry.  Remember it might pay you to stock some wicks, they are very inexpensive. Check the internet under candle wicks.
    Howard

    • lucy

      hi howard
      well you can always use string instead of wick it is much cheaper and you should have some around your house

  • countrygirl

    Wow, I hadn’t heard all of these. I’ve shown my children a couple of alternatives in the past and will have to melt some crayons now and try the canned meat one.
    Two other ones that I’ve tried is a little oil in a shallow dish with a “wick” something like a strip of paper towel twisted and set in the dish with an end sticking out, also a birthday candle in a small can, like a tuna can, with rolled up cardboard surrounding it and wax poured into this. Probably not enough of a discription to try these, but they are also easy alternatives.

  • Joe

    One problem with the canned meat idea…after a few hours in the temperature danger zone (41-140F), that canned meat will not be safe for consumption any more. Not to mention any rust you might be introducing to the meat when you poke the hole in the can (tetanus). I would suggest removing the meat and saving the leftover oil for a candle. Plus, your body needs the lipids that the candle would have used for fuel anyways…

  • Mary Rabbithash

    You forgot one of the most ancient way of making a candle or lamp…OLIVE OIL lamp. You will only need a canning type jar, olive oil, a wick of some sort, and a piece of wire.  See link below for complete (with picture) directions.
    http://www.motherearthnews.com/Do-It-Yourself/Make-Olive-Oil-Lamp.aspx

  • http://gardenforyourlife.blogspot.com Ken lowder

    hi sets, here’s a link to the emergency candles that ive made for around the house.
    ken
    http://gardenforyourlife.blogspot.com/2012/08/howdy-lets-make-emergency-candle-in.html

  • Devin

    these seem really fun to do and r good for an emergency like no electricity and u need light. THANKS FOR THE IDEA!!!

  • Donald

    Take an ordinary can of Crisco, remove the lid.  Take an ordinary candle and cut its length to the height of the Crisco can.  Push the re-sized candle down into the middle of the Crisco can until it touches the bottom.  Light the candle.  Volia!  a 100+ hour candle.

  • Sanne

    In a pinch, you can also build a solar oven from a cardboard box, a sheet of glass (from an old photoframe perhaps?) and some aluminum foil. There are plenty of tutorials online on how to build these, and even in winter the inside gets hot enough to melt wax. Its not the heat of the sun, but rather the radiation that does the job, so you’re good to go as long as its not too cloudy outside and you keep your cardboard box out of the wet snow.

  • NOYB

    I like the crayon one, its easy and only takes 10 minutes

  • Marco Santini

    Making candles is so relaxing! I’m a candle maker newbie… I want to share something I found: a free email minicourse about candle making… 10 free email lessons and then they try to sell an ebook with a lot of free bonuses… they also teach you how to make it a profitable business… I found the free stuff very valuable anyways… http://www.leadvision.it/candlemaking4you/op.asp Hope it helps!

  • Justin

    You guys are idiots. Burning wool socks creates high levels hydrogen cyanide, which can be fatal if too much as inhaled, and minimal amounts can kill unborn children.

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