Art of the Hands

Time to Tinker

Unusual Candles

From a young age, I was one of those boys who grew up loving to run outside playing the dirt and get generally filthy. As I Grew Older that’s developed into an enjoyment of learning about how to survive in the wilderness on your own. One of the things that I have seen often in books was the concept of using the cooking grease to make a candle that you can use to light up your shelter.in the past I’ve been skeptical of the idea because of two facts:

  1. Meat has a lot of bacteria in it and so it I always thought that the candle would mold in a matter of days making it a fairly impractical idea.
  2. There would be so many impurities in the grease that I figured it would either not burn cleanly or it would pop like a campfire throwing hot liquid everywhere.

I finally got around to putting the project to the test the other day and the results surprised me.

Just for fun, I decided to make two candles, one from sausage flavored meat and the other from taco flavored meat. I did this partly because that is what I happened to be cooking at the time and partly because I was curious if the flavoring of the meat would result in a scented candle. Because this is a survival-themed project, I decided to cut strips out of an old shirt to use as a wick. I’ve experimented with the concept in the past and so I know that pretty much any clothing will do a fairly good job of acting as a wick. The burn characteristics are slightly different as the cloth will probably wider meaning more fuel for the fire and thereby more heat and light but at the cost of burn time.

Since almost everyone has or knows someone with an old shirt that needs to be retired, this can work as a perfect substitute wick for a survival or DIY candle. The only downside is that I won’t have the little metal stands that usually come with store-bought wicks so it will be impossible to stand them up in the middle of the grease. You could make your own stand with some copper wire if you want to but I was lazy and I didn’t think it was necessary for this test.

Because I was nervous about the bacteria growing and making the candles disgusting, I decided to put the glass containers I was planning to use in boiling water so they would be sterilized, hopefully, so they would not be the culprit of any bacteria growth. One that step was done, it was time to get cooking, literally.

Once I collected the grease and set the wick, I let them sit in the fridge for a while to harden before testing.

The candles ended burn remarkably well. The grease seemed to burn as slow or possibly slower than traditional wax and had almost no smoke of any kind. The sausage flavored candle had no discernable scent but if you paid attention you could smell the taco flavoring. The light that they gave off was nothing to scoff at either. Having experimented with using shirts as a wick in wax candles in the past, it is my opinion that the grease candles outperformed their wax competitors in both burn duration and was easily their equals in light output and smoke quality. The only downside is that you have to store the grease candles in the fridge but if you froze them I would not be surprised if they had an unlimited shelf life.

This project thoroughly surprised me with both how easy it was to do and how well the final product worked. I would defiantly recommend trying this yourself. These types of ideas are what inspires me to keep tinkering because the creativity required to use grease for a candle is truly inspiring. Thanks for joining me and happy tinkering!

1 response to “Unusual Candles”

  • This is so cool! I am going to try it now with bacon.

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