By RightWingMom, Skill of the Month editor
Our thoughts and prayers are with those still recovering from Hurricane Sandy. In light of this recent event it seems timely to work on alternative methods for providing light for our families when the power goes out. Battery powered flashlights and lanterns are a safe alternative, but what if you’re facing a long-term grid down situation? Being able to create an alternative light source will be a useful skill.
Warning! Use extreme caution with open flames. Make sure you have extra fire extinguishers or large boxes of baking soda on hand when using your homemade candles or lanterns.
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The basics of candle making include these supplies: a dedicated pan, candle thermometer, heat resistant container, wax, small paper clip, pencil, and cotton string for a wick.
Your pan should be dedicated to melting wax only. Consider picking up an inexpensive one at a garage sale or thrift store. Some people also use double boilers to better control the heat as they melt their wax.
A candle thermometer is used primarily for determining the wax temperature depending on the container you are using. If you are pouring it into a heat resistant jar you should not exceed 140 F. If you are using a metal container the temperature can be as high as 190 F.
Use any wax you please: paraffin, soy wax, bees wax, left over pieces of old candles and even old crayons can be used.
The wick can be a simple cotton string.
Set your pan on medium heat. Begin heating the wax, a few pieces at a time. Once the wax heats to 140 F, it’s ready for your glass
jar. Pour the hot wax to within half an inch of the lip of the jar. Tie your cotton string around the paper clip and submerge it into the wax centering the paper clip at the bottom. Dip the top portion of the string into the wax, pull it out and wrap it around the pencil. This will give you a coated wick. Allow the candle to cool for 12 hours or more.
This is the most basic type of candle to make. There are many other ideas and alternatives. Let me know what type of candles you are making.
Here are more ideas:
A simple oil lantern can be a quick and easy way to provide your family with light in a grid down situation.
Mason Jar Oil Lanterns
The supplies are basic. All you will need is a Mason jar, wick, oil, hammer and nail.
Begin with punching a hole in the center of the lid with the hammer and nail. Insert the wick. As the wick burns, it will be consumed. Feel free to cut it extra long. The excess wick can accumulate at the bottom of the jar.
Once the wick has soaked up the oil, it is ready to light. Make sure and only burn a small amount of wick at a time. If the flame is too big or begins to soot, the wick is too long. Trim it back.
With some planning and stockpiling you can provide your family with off grid lighting at a much lower cost than putting back expensive batteries.
Check out these examples of Mason jar lanterns.
Olive oil lamp
If you have a Mason jar, clothes hanger, cotton wick, and olive oil you can make an olive oil lamp.
Cut your plain metal hanger with wire cutters. Coil one end. Create an handle at the other end. Place the wick inside the coil and secure it with the last loop. Place a small amount of olive oil in the jar. Allow the oil to soak
up the wick. Light and enjoy.
You can find more details and photos here.
Personally, I have recently been using a mini cast iron pot (a gift from my mom) to gather bacon fat. I inserted a wick from an inexpensive votive candle and the result is a bacon candle. To my pleasant surprise, it works! It doesn’t put off a lot of light, but it makes good use of items I already have on hand.
Be creative and let me know how you plan on providing light for your loved ones.
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