> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Bacon Candle

8/10/11

Bacon Candle


Lighting is an important thing, and when the batteries run dry, you can improvise a simple candle or lamp with whatever fat, oil or grease you have around. This lamp was made with an extra tin, the fat/drippings from about 3/4 of a package of bacon, a wick made from half a cotton ball and a wick holder made from a twisted paper clip. That's it - pretty simple and easily improvised with what you have on hand.

People have been using candles and simple lamps for thousands of years, and they work, even in our modern age of LED flashlights. A fuel and a natural wick material (cotton works well and is readily available, but a variety of other materials work, too) are the consumables that you'll need - no grid or modern tech needed.

So far, this particular lamp has provided about 1.5 hours of light, completely uninterrupted. It doesn't kick off a massive amount of light, but definitely better than a tea light and enough to provide navigation light for a normal room. Simple tasks, sure. Reading...probably not so much, at least for my eyes. We're heading off to bed soon so I blew the candle out; I would guess it's got another hour and a half or so of life left in it, maybe more. I'll light it back up tomorrow.

A shot of the interior of the can, wick and holder after the jump below. For scale, the can is around the size of a tuna can - it held blueberries for a packaged muffin mix.

Bacon grease, a cotton wick made from paper towel and a paper clip wick holder.

22 comments :

  1. That is too cool. Awesome post.

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  2. Mmm... Bacon, just don't get hungry and try to eat the candle!

    That's great thinking right there.

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  3. These do work really well, but at least in my experience they also put out thick black smoke. That's not to say they aren't awesome (utterly) but plan accordingly.

    I'm going to experiment with making a cover out of another can to catch the smoke.

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  4. This particular candle didn't give off much in the way of smoke, and similar candles that I have experimented with have been the same. Maybe you're getting more smoke due to the wick you're using, or possibly gunked up fuel?

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  5. This is cool, a good way to use bacon grease! I will have to experiment and make one myself. Thank you!

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  6. Re-lit it for the the second evening. With the wick partially burnt, the flame did have some little wisps of smoke. It's going on providing 4.5 hours of light and still burning.

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  7. Great post man - so simple yet, it's very actionable advice. And interesting insight into the wick - a cotton ball like that wouldn't have been my first choice, but I'm glad to hear it doesn't smoke.

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  8. TEO you might be right; I've also tried chicken grease and found it less smokey. Have also seen (not in person) rendered raccoon fat used, and it was pretty smokey.

    Not a problem out in the bush, but if you're in a house with white interiors it's something to consider.

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  9. Purifying the fat is helpful. Bacon grease starts out chunky and brownish. But if you warm it up to just a liquid, then pour it through a t-shirt, then it will end up white and odorless. This should take care of the soot problem. Also mind the wick; black smoke is indicative of an excessively long wick.
    At room temperature, it is a tad soft and almost runny. But if you store your emergency fat candles in the freezer, they will harden up.
    I assume, any fat would work, including beef. And while you are making your fat candles, keep in mind that you are well on your way to making tallow! Love your site, read you tommorrow!

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  10. Guys:

    Bacon grease is valuable.... It should be used to season with not turned into a candle. Bacon grease gravy will become a staple.

    You can use cooking oil which does not have much flavor for making your oil lamp.

    Beef fat will also work, but beef fat can also be used to season with. Cook down the beef fat and store in sealed jars. Heat your jars in the oven to over 200 degrees before putting in the cooked down fat whether it be beef, chicken or pork, this way the glass will not break when you pour in the hot grease. Put on the lids and when the grease cools, the lids will seal to the jars. You can use any type of glass jar. Most weak jars will crack during the heating process. The jars of fat can then be stored on the shelf until ready to be used.

    You can also do this with butter. Boil the butter to remove water and reduce the butter. The foam on top of the boiling butter can be removed and used for seasoning. Store in glass jars as detailed above.

    Texican.

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  11. Texican -

    Certainly, there may be other/better uses for your delicious bacon fat that a candle/lamp. But, this is one use that's good to know.

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  12. Are there any storage issues with this method? Or is it more of a "make a candle as needed" method? If stored in open air, will it soften and eventually go rancid?

    Thanks for the great post.

    Joe

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  13. How about OPSEC is there a smell that could be detected? I know the sites all frown upon brewing coffee and cooking bacon as the aromas are easily picked up by others (possibly bad others)at quite a distance. This could lead into unwanted guests for dinner, or worse

    Lamont

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  14. It's not entirely odorless, but it's also not anything close to frying up a batch of bacon. Would not be a top concern; if you can smell the lamp, I would think you could see the light it gives off as well.

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  15. brilliiant stuff mate keep the post coming.

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  16. We used grease lamps for 20 years or more. Smoky, but cheap. Good post.
    Le Loup
    http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com

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  17. I'm interested in that post about pouring the fat into jars and letting the heat cool down process seal the jars. How long does the fat keep this way, and is there a problem with spoilage, or is the lack of oxygen sufficient for keeping it from turning rancid? We always keep the fat in the freezer, so I don't even have to deal with rancidity and our dogs trying to eat it, etc. We have a "moose" that will chew through plastic containers and eat up all the peanut butter if it's left down low enough. My Dad does canning with fruits and when he's poured the fruits, he melts a layer of parafin wax on top, then he lights a scrap of paper, drops it in on top of the wax (after it's hardened), and screws on the lid. The fire eats up all the oxygen and his fruit preserves never mold that way.

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  18. Pour your grease through a coffee filter. The smell comes from contaminants not from the grease. Once you remove them there is no smell. Rancidity is merely oxidation so it's not something to worry about. I've had a bacon grease candle on my counter for months and it's just fine.

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  19. I just go out in the yard and get the Solar yard lights put them in a ole water bottle and light up my house for free. The Cooking fat goes to better use.

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  20. This same concept works with conventional kerosene lanterns as well. Save that outdated or worn out frying oil. Dont know if bacon grease would feed up a lantern wick, but veg and peanut oil sure does. I can never seem to use up my veg oil stock as quickly as it expires.

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  21. Built one yesterday from old bacon grease I found in refrigerator. It lasted in excess of 3 hours and was still half full. Gonna try with old vegatable oil from frying next time cuz I agree bacon grease is better in green beans or biscuit gravy than burning in a candle.

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  22. Awesome! I always save all of my cooking grease and oils anyways as I use it in later cooking or in animal food but now I have another project to try! Thank you!

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