6 Ways to Make an Emergency Candle With Household Objects

hero shot lit match with hand

Treehugger / Jordan Provost

Don't get caught in the dark when the power goes out; try one of these 6 easy candle hacks with how-to videos.

The problem with power outages is that we don't always know when they're coming. Even with a 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 fat or wax to place it in.


For each of these options, use a fire-resistant surface (such as glass or metal) as a base to support the candle.

How to Make a Homemade Wick

For homemade wicks, you can use tightly rolled-up newspapers, 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.

How to Make an Emergency Candle

Go Orange

diy candle made out of orange
Treehugger / Jordan Provost 

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.

Make a Simple Butter Candle

hand lights butter candle
Treehugger / Jordan Provost

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.

Use a Tuna Can

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. 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.

Create a Crayon Candle

emergency candle crayon
Treehugger / Jordan Provost

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.

Use Cheese Wax

closeup cheese wax candle lit
Treehugger / Jordan Provost 

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 Babybel 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.

Use Cooking Oil for Lamp Oil

jar of olive oil emergency candle
Treehugger / Jordan Provost

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.