An­cient Glow

A TIME-TESTED, NO-BAT­TER­IES-RE­QUIRED EMER­GENCY LIGHT­ING SO­LU­TION

Modern Pioneer - - Contents - By Kristi Cook

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.

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