The problem with power outages is that we don't always know when they're coming. Even with proper warning of an incoming storm, we can find ourselves unprepared if the power goes out. Now that we're in the season of icy, winter storms, it's good to know what you can do to make some light if you can't locate a flashlight or candle or if you need extra sources of heat on a cold night. Many of the following could also be helpful on a camping trip.
Below are six ideas for emergency candles that use common household items, along with videos that show you how to make them. It's very likely that you have at least one of these things in your house right now, if not all of them.
These candles rely on two simple components: a wick and a fat or wax to place it in. A glass or metal base or container is also ideal for supporting a candle and keeping you safe.
For homemade wicks, you can use tightly rolled up newspaper, toilet paper, paper towels, twine or any cotton fabric like strips from an old t-shirt, though with a couple of these, the item itself acts as a wick. Make sure you also always have matches or a lighter on hand.
One emergency candle hack that you may have seen before is using an orange and a little cooking oil like canola or olive oil. Slicing the orange to remove just the top part of the peel and the center pith makes an instant candle that just needs a little oil poured in. You'll get a longer-burning candle if you use a larger orange, but clementines are easier to peel and work just as well, though the burning time will be shorter.
There couldn't be a simpler candle. Cut off a rectangle of butter, insert a wick, light it and you're done. Make sure to place the butter on a glass or metal surface and you should get about one hour of light per tablespoon.
If you're out of fresh oranges or butter, check your pantry for a can of tuna, salmon, anchovies or any fish packed in oil. As DaveHax shows you above, poke a hole in the top of the can with a screwdriver and insert a wick, making sure to spread the oil up through the top, then light and enjoy.
They may not be the first thing to come to mind, but a crayon is a self-contained candle: all you have to do is light it. The paper wrapper acts as a wick and the wax keeps the flame going. Make sure to melt the bottom of the crayon lightly so that it will stick to a metal surface light an Altoids tin or a glass plate for safety.
More than one crayon can be wrapped together with foil to make a larger candle or an effective fire starter.
Cheese wax may be a nuisance when you're trying to slice some cheese to eat, but in addition to keeping cheese fresh, it is also a great material for making an emergency candle. Any waxed cheese will do if slice the wax off and mold it into a cylinder shape and then insert a wick. The more wax you have, the bigger and longer-lasting the candle, but even the little Baby Bel cheeses are great for this purpose. Slice open a few of them and make many small candles or one larger one.
Again, make sure you have a flame-resistant base to hold your candle.
If you find yourself without any of the above, you can fashion an emergency candle out of any type of cooking oil -- fresh or used -- and a flame-resistant container. Small glass cups or jars like mason or jam jars will work as will aluminum cans and even a cup made out of aluminum foil. If you don't have a lid to thread the wick through, a paper clip can be used to hold the wick in place.
These other items will also work as emergency candles. All you have to do is insert a wick in the middle: lip balm tins, shoe polish or vegetable shortening like Crisco.