A TIME-TESTED, NO-BATTERIES-REQUIRED EMERGENCY LIGHTING SOLUTION
A time-tested, no-batteries-required emergency lighting solution
I’m not a prepper in the strictest sense of the word. I don’t stockpile hundreds of pounds of beans and grains, nor do I collect MRES or maintain a military-sized arsenal. I do, however, stockpile skills my family will need in a grid-down situation or other long-term disaster.
One of my favorite self-reliance skills is turning ordinary animal fat, beeswax and paraffin into emergency lighting that doesn’t require stashed batteries, solar chargers or hand cranks.
Choosing a Base
Of all the possible candle bases, the easiest to work with is paraffin. Available commercially, its primary benefit is ease of access during non-emergency times. Paraffin produces a clean-burning candle with little to no smoke or odor, is relatively easy to release from molds, and is good for containers, pillars and dipped tapers. Recycling candle stumps and container wax is an excellent way to stretch paraffin supplies, and it’s a practice the frugal pioneers employed daily.
Beeswax is another readily available candle base in many areas, or it may be purchased online. This natural wax has a higher melting point than general-purpose paraffin and animal fats, which creates a harder, slowerburning candle. Beeswax candles emit a slight honey smell and very little smoke with the right wick. The most significant downside, however, is its cost and potentially difficult acquisition in abnormal circumstances. Because of this, old-timers incorporated their limited beeswax supply into their paraffin or tallow/lard bases as a hardener to increase
“Animal fat … is likely the most ancient candle base, and … remains the most reliable …”
(above) Candles made from beeswax burn slower, but the wax can be expensive and difficult to source in a crisis.
(right) After trimming as much tissue and meat from the fat as possible, cut or process the fat into small pieces to speed up the melting process.