An Emergency Candle That Noah Would Be Proud Of

Feature | An Emergency Candle That Noah Would Be Proud Of

We have roughly 12 hours of natural light from the sun, and the rest of the time we simply flip a switch and out pours a flood of artificial light. But what happens when the switch doesn't work anymore?

Since the advent of electric lights, candles have become more of a decorative item than a tool. But anyone who has ever been caught in a blackout knows the real value of an emergency candle.

You can purchase many “survival candles” that last 12–120 hours, but did you know that you can create a candle that will last for up to 45 days using something that you probably already have in your kitchen?

What You Need To Make An Emergency Candle?

All you need is:

a 48-ounce tub of Crisco or smaller. The large tub will get you the 45 life span and anything smaller will burn significantly less
than a spoon an old candlestick or something else that can be used as a wick

There are a few options when it comes to creating a Noah candle.  One of the first things you need to decide is if you want a candle that will burn brighter or one that will last longer.

For a longer-lasting candle, you will use only one wick, and for a brighter candle, you will use anywhere from 2-4 wicks depending on the size of the container.

Regardless of how many wicks you decide to use or the size of the Crisco tub that you choose, the directions are the same.

Take your spoon and remove a small portion of the Crisco directly in the center (for a single-wick candle) if you are using an old candlestick. Then simply press the candlestick down into the shortening until it touches the bottom.  Use the shortening that was removed previously to fill in any divots.

Smooth the top of the Crisco down until it is completely flat, then trim the excess candle and wick until you only have about 1/4” of wick sticking out above the top of the shortening.

Light and enjoy.

If you are using a standalone wick, you may need to dig down to the bottom of the can in order to get the base of the wick to lie flat against the bottom of the tub.  Then simply melt the shortening and use it to fill in the hole that was left.

As a caution: the container of the Crisco is made of paper material and as such, may catch fire if you place the wick too close to the outer edge of the tub.

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Editor's Note: This article was originally published on November 12, 2012, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

65 Responses to :
An Emergency Candle That Noah Would Be Proud Of

  1. lux17 says:

    Impressive. But I prefer to eat the Crisco.

    I prefer a long run time flashlight. This modified five dollar flashlight will get you over 360 hours of run time:

    Or go micro-solar for 24/7 lighting or a fan:

    1. Joe says:

      But can you cook over that flashlight? or boil water?

      1. Carma Felton says:

        When I was a kid we would cut strips of cardboard the height of a metal coffee can. Roll the cardboard tighly and shove it in the can. Then we melted parrafin wax and poured the can full. It worked as a stove, a light, and a heater!

      2. Buck says:

        Great ideas, also you might want to use chapstick, butter or Vaseline, they work as well:)

    2. Hey Luxy great info , thank you very much. I don’t have a ton of money and I am disabled so I cannot work. I have been talking to my family and close friends regarding prepping. It is not a matter if problems are going to happen but when it is going to happen. Very tough convincing them. Thank you again, Frank & my family too.

    3. Paul says:

      Great use of fat, I’m working on a simple thermopile ( copper/iron wire) and was looking for along lasting candle to supply the heat. I will probably try ghee/ clarified butter as I can buy it in cans and I like cooking with it.

  2. lux17 says:

    This reminds me of some experiments I did with candles. I was able to heat up a can of ravioli with a single candle flame. Also I pre-heated water with a candle flame before boiling with a propane stove. I was able to reduce my propane use by about 40 percent. The next set of experiments will be with 3 flames and hopefully no propane. I just have not gotten to it yet. I suppose you could use bacon grease as well.

    1. john says:

      Maybe you do this all ready. I found years ago when cooking my rice to go with my c-rat meat that the water will boil alot faster if you pour small amounts of water into the container rather than tryng to heat a whole container at one time. Just a thought, may help some one.

      1. Joe says:

        This is true to a point, also you need to warm the water as much as possible to help reduce the amount of fuel required to get the water to boiling. Keeping your canteen against your body ( not against your skin though) will help heat the water to body temperature and make it much quicker to boil. Setting it in the sun would work well too depending on how cold it is outside

  3. Elizabeth says:

    who would have ever thought about that, thank you it is a great tip

  4. Carol Crow says:

    What a wonderful idea! Really novel concept! Thanks so much…

  5. Butch says:

    What a novel idea! Making a candle out of something you cook and eat.

  6. LilJo says:

    Interesting idea, but I have some concerns about the safety and it seems to me that as soon as this Crisco candle burns down below the level of the rim it will only produce light straight up since the container is opaque.

    Another concern. As the Crisco becomes molten from the heat of the burning wick, a candle, which would melt slower than the shortening, would be at risk of falling over against the side. If it does, would risk igniting the paper container.

    When I was a kid, Crisco came in metal cans. We filtered and poured the used fat back into the tin whenever it was reasonable and reused it just like restaurants do. Now, with the paper container that is “not recommended” because the container will sooner or later become saturated with the melted fat and be a bit unstable.

    Another possibility would be to stand a candle inside a wide-mouth Quart or pint Mason jar. Can convince it to stand up by just melting the bottom a bit and hold in place a few seconds until the wax cools.

    Then support the candle/wick in it’s upright position with some fine wire or a couple of those extra long wire ties that come with trash bags. Will want to do this because the first few additions of liquid fat will “unseat” the candle and it will fall against the side of the jar.

    Mason jars withstand very high temperatures, but not sudden changes in temperature. Place a cheap (“cheap” is better here) metal iced tea spoon in the jar to absorb and dissipate the heat and protect the jar from cracking until you’ve finished pouring, then take it out until the next time your pour, won’t want to use it for anything else.

    Now melt your shortening and pour into the jar, or filter and pour into the jar any liquid fats you may have left each time you’re cooking. All that congealed stuff at the top of homemade broths or soups, fat from frying bacon, etc. can be warmed back to liquid, filtered, then poured in until the jar is nearly full.

    Cover it with standard metal lid and ring and you’ll have a long lasting “candle” that will not have cost you much and stores easily. If using animal fat instead of vegetable shortening, this will be a smoky candle just like the tallow candles pioneers used when they didn’t have wax–but in an emergency…?

    The amount of light you get from any candle is dependent on the size of the wick. The reason oil lanterns give off a lot of light is that they have a very large wick. We have several with metal backplates that hang on our walls. The metal backplate not only protects the wall, it reflects so you have more “usable” light and not just a bright wall. I also read a tip somewhere to save rancid cooking oil for emergency lighting…

    Whenever we have a power outage, which is fairly frequent here in the desert, we just go around the house and light the lamps. They have the advantage of being able to turn the wick back so it doesn’t smoke much.

    Happy hunting!

    1. Joe says:

      Hey LilJo,
      Thanks for to comment, I appreciate your alternatives to my emergency candle! keep posting

    2. AixSponsa says:

      If you are worried about the paper can, drop by the local paint store and buy new 1 quart or 1 gallon metal paint cans. Also your local deli or restaurant might have food grade plastic buckets they have emptied.

    3. Craig says:

      Refill your used candle containers with crisco and put a wick in it.

  7. Nancy says:

    Thanks! Great idea!

  8. Ron says:

    Reading about the candle reminded me of something that I experienced forty two years ago. Stainless steel waterless cookware had just hit the market and I was a proud salesman of this beautiful cookware. My wife and I would put on a cooking party in a hosts home for the guest they would invite, and I did all of the cooking. The key point was to demonstrate how little heat it took to cook an entire meal just by stacking smaller pans above the ones on the bottom while using one burner. On one occasion, we had a party at a home that used natural gas. Here is the point I wish to make. I was able to cook the entire meal using only the pilot light. So just think of what you could do with only a candle.

  9. Doug says:

    What you can do with instead of the container that “Crisco” came in is to purchase a clean empty gallon paint can and use this instead of the original Crisco container for your candle. I would leave the Crisco in the container that it came in and transfer it to the paint can when you will almost need it.
    Also purchase more than one clean paint can. You should be able to purchase them at a quality paint store only because they mix paint to the color that you want and transfer them to clean cans. If not go the garage and find some of your almost empty paint cans and transfer that paint to another container or just toss it and clean the can that you have. Most paints that you purchase are water soilble and will clean pretty easy.
    I would also like to say that this site is the best and great idea’s do come from it. 😀

    1. Tracy says:

      Good idea, but one of those used #10 cans should work, too, and since I already have a bunch of those, I do not have to go buy a paint can.

  10. Jesse 3 says:

    this is all very interesting, but better information would be what to use when store bought wicks are not available. Assuming if you can eat you should have grease but what to use for the necessary wick?

    1. Joe says:

      Hi Jesse,
      Great idea, I will start looking into how to make your own wicks. I do know that just about any plant based fiber can be made into a wick, but you can also use tightly rolled paper, or even thin lengths of certain types of wood. The main thing that you need to remember when using a non standard wick is that it needs to be “primed” it will not hold a flame long enough to start wicking the melted oils if you just put a cotton string in your candle medium. When you buy pre-made wicks they are usually already primed. The easiest way you can do this is to warm up some of the grease and allow your wicking material to soak in it for a half hour at a minimum. I’d love to hear what the rest of you think would work well for an improvised wick!

      1. Are you saying that you just shove in the middle of the crisco, a tall dinner candle?

        1. Joe says:

          Nancy, that is the simplest way of doing it correct.

      2. MaryEllen White says:

        Our son is a cattle rancher (until Obama shuts us down) and we feed cotton seed cake to the cows in the winter along with grass or alfalfa hay and sometimes oat straw. Every sack has 2 or 3 yards of string. When I was small during the world war 2 we saved everything, from foil off gum, which we rarely had, to the sack string. We rolled the string into balls. I still do that. Can see it braided into wicks and I know it would burn. I didn’t know about Crisco. Lehmans catalog has little canning jars you put olive oil in and they burn for a long time.

      3. ozspeaksup says:

        ok the thin twine you use to tie meat up is good ,plait or twist a double or triple starnd if you want a stronger wick.
        then theres Old shoelaces, the cotton ones not nylon.
        of course a roll of candle wicking is even easier:-0 and its available cheaply at craft shops, ie candlewick bedspreads etc are made from the thinner version of it, and camping shops sell candle and lantern wicking anyway.
        to stop the fire hazard with ANY candle ( or incence) or this one you simply place the container candle etc in a BOWL of shallow water -any tip fall or spliiage is immediately doused.

        this means a shallow dish that is able to contain the HEIGHT of the full candle whatever laid if the candle height is 10 inches the bowl needs to be that width from centre to edge.
        salad bowls spaghetti bowl for eg
        the handy bit about that ,is runs and drips cool off and can be saved and re melted later. no waste.
        and BTW pure real beeswax has a slower cleaner and longer burn time than commercial crap ones.

  11. ever heard of a buddy burner?

    1. Joe says:

      No I have not, what is it?

      1. kdonat says:

        Buddy burner is a tuna or catfood can that is filled with rolled up rings of cardboard the height of the can. You then then fill then can with melted wax, fat, oil. A stub of bithday candle stuck in the middle makes it easy to light. They can be used for cooking, heating, light. Check out a Boy or Girl Scout handbook for details on making several.

      2. Charles says:

        We made buddy burners when I was in Scouts as a teenager 25 years ago. You take a tuna fish or other approximate sized can and cut strips of cardboard just shorter than the height of the inside of the can. Circle the strips inside the can until it is full. We used way to fill in the cardboard, but you can use any of the above mentioned fuels, or even rubbing alcohol. Let it cool, and you have a candle that will burn for a very long time, and with the wax are very good for long term storage. I just pulled mine out of a box to use for my sons pumpkins 2 weeks ago. Hadn’t been used in over 20 years and they worked just fine. Not the best for indoors because of smoke, but good light and heat.

        1. fizzlecat says:

          We made buddy burners like that in cub scouts too. We went a step further and got a big coffee can, punched holes around the bottom with a can opener, then took tin snips and made a square opening in the open end for ventilation. Then we lit the buddy burner and turned the coffee can over it- instant stove!

    2. Basket Case says:

      Yes, Nancy,we made them in GirlScouts. They work great and i have posted how to make one, shortly.

  12. Dorian says:

    Good idea!
    As with all things it’s good to know of several different ways to do things so there are alternatives in case certain materials aren’t available.

    Here’s another idea for an emergency candle that I’ve tested out with things that can be found in most kitchens and bathrooms.

    Metal can (an average can of soup, vegetables, beans etc… will work)
    roll of toilet paper
    bottle of rubbing alcohol

    depending on the size of the can you may want to crush the or remove the tube from the toilet paper or even use 1/2, 1/4 etc… of the roll. Stuff the toilet paper into the can and pour in the rubbing alcohol and let sit for several minutes. You want to leave it long enough to let the paper wick up enough alcohol to saturate it. Now simply light it.

    This may not be the most efficent use of supplies like these. But if you have plenty of TP and rubbing alcohol, and no light and/or heat, this will get you by.

  13. MaryEllen White says:

    A few coffee brands are still in metal cans–transfer you wax or shortening of any kind to one of them~~or a hominy can that is 20 some ounces?? My imagination is going WILD!!

  14. Mil says:

    I haven’t tried it but I think propping a metal rack, even a cake cooking rack, over a hurricane lamp, (glass removed) could be used to adjust flame to fry, boil, heat, etc. foods while also being used as a light, and even a little heat, source. For efficiency, coffee and tea drinkers could make make a hot quantity in AM, pour into thermoses to drink throughout the day, and use the lamp after dark to “multitask” to save on lamp oil. (If your thermos contents stays hot enough, prep your coffee and tea, hot chocolate, etc. while PM multitasking for next day’s use.) A butter warmer and votives could be used in a pinch. Or the old fondue pots and sterno. Since I have a “doubting Thomas” partner, basically against prepping, I can’t have propane stored. So I am subtle and look around for “make do with everyday goods” items.

  15. Nancy Sims says:

    Or how about transfer the crisco to a #10 can that has been emptied from food storage? Wouldn’t even really have to melt it. Rubber spatula it into the new can, and precede with the spoon and candle/wick! Anyway…great idea with the crisco, and I thank you for it!

  16. Flatlander says:

    Rather than being concerned about fire with the Crisco paper can, wouldn’t it be prudent to transfer the Crisco, or other cheap shortening, to a number 10 can and then use the crisco lid to seal it between uses? I have done this in storing emergency candles so that I can remove one at a time or light encases for an emergency portable stove.

  17. stormydave says:

    You were talking about rainwater systems in the main story. I looked up Loomis 1 800 549 5514. They are great guys (Matt Dan Tim and Mark) They got me some 500 Gallon tanks that fit under my gutters. They’re made in fairfield Tx. (in case you don’t like Calif.)They are great

  18. Basket Case says:

    Buddy Burner-Cook Stove
    Use a #10 can. Around the bottom use bottle opener to make “air holes around the bottom which will become your cooking top.
    On the open end cut a door big enough for a Tuna Fish can to fit in.
    Set it upright with the lid bottom for the cooking surface.
    Next you will need an empty tuna Fish can which you will fill with cardboard box strip as wide as the can. You will roll it around the inside of the can until the can is full. Packed neatly. Melt old wax or parrifin and pour in to the can to form a candle, insert a Birthday candle in center to make it an easy lite. When the flame gets to the edges of the cardboard it will burn and make a great heat for cooking. Make several of the cans and set aside so you can use another one when you run out. I have fried Bacon and eggs on these. Hamburger also What ever you need to cook. Coffee also. Learned this in Girl Scouts.
    Be sure you slide the Tuna fish candle under the door you made on the Big Can.
    Your read to cook. Don’t forget to grease the top whee you cook first.

    1. Joe says:

      Hey basket case, thanks for that, the directions look similar to the hobo stove that I have built a couple times

  19. kdonat says:

    Save your expired cooking oils for fueling oil lamps. Do not mix “lamp oil”, kerosene, or pariffin with fats or vegetable oils in your lamps.

    Wicks can be formed from strips of 100 percent cotton (Think old denim jeans, tee shirts, or braids of string as mentioned by another poster.)

    If you have old fashioned oil lamps, try to purchase the appropriate wicks while you can. They come in different lengths, widths, and thicknesses depending on the mantle contraption that allows you to adjust the flame.

  20. peggy says:

    I think I will continue to stock up on candles and batteries for my flash lights and go buy some camp lanterns that run by batteries. There, now see, there’s no mess or fear of catching on fire.

    1. ozspeaksup says:

      but Peggy bateries have a limited life in storage and rechargeables wont do that if theres no power. this is for NO power times. and in those times buying a candle may also NOT be an option either.

  21. Lux17 says:

    Hello Joe.

    Sorry about my initial response. Your idea is really a good one. Can I do an Instructable about this with a link back to your article????
    I think the few objections stated can be easily overcome. I would use birthday candles for the wick, transfer some of the shortening into another container like a smaller sauce pan or an empty tin can, weight the bottoms of the birthday candles so the stay upright even if the shortening liquefies and also have a procedure of adding more shortening to the pan as needed to make the wicks / candles last as long as possible. Then I would just need to test how many flames are needed to boil water.

    Maybe you should do an instructable.

    Let me know so I can get started.


    1. Joe says:

      Hi again Lux,
      Absolutely go right ahead and create an instructable on this if you wish. Let me know if you have other instructables available for survival situations. If you have any that would work for my newsletter I would love to see about featuring them in my survival tip of the day section!

      Also, please don’t apologize, I welcome any type of criticism, If you would do something differently or if you or anyone else thinks that I am just plain wrong about something I want you to tell me. I am still learning new things everyday as well as re-learning things that I already thought I knew. Keep in touch with me and let me know about those instructables!

  22. gena says:

    You all are talking about using Crisco – will old fashioned lard work as well? Down here in S Texas I’m seeing more and more people buying lard in place of oil or Crisco. It sure is cheaper and from what I’m hearing, actually healthier – isn’t it what some above have referred to as tallow, I believe, or basic animal fat?
    Another thing I’ve been picking up from some of my hispanic friends and neighbors has been the very easy bread type source of tortilla mix, where you merely add water, roll it out and cook it and have a nice flour tortilla or as many as you want, little preparation, little fuel use. Unfortunately my spanish isn’t that great, but you can buy 4-5 pound or larger bags of this mix, very inexpensive, and if you are in a situation where you want a wrap or other bread source and can’t take a chance of people smelling you baking bread, this is a quick, cheap and easy alternative. I think it is called Masa Harina or something like that. I bought a little pan for cooking tortillas for about a dollar and a half. And praise God, it has easy to follow instructions on it for those of us who didn’t grow up that way.

  23. gena says:

    Oh, and I’m really not a health food nut, but I have been reading a lot lately about this canola oil that people have been pushing as a healthier alternative and am finding that it really is a synthetic oil and very unhealthy, and so if you have stockpiled canola oil, you might consider putting that aside to use for fuel as some have mentioned using rancid cooking oil It would likely be healthier use of it to use it for lamp fuel than human consumption. I don’t remember the exacts on why it is so unhealthy except when it gets to a certain temperature it gets toxic – just read up on it in Health Ranger or some of those reputable sites to get the exacts about it. And remember all oil now which has corn oil is made with GMO corn so you will be filling yourself with bug spray whenever you use it. They now know the insecticides Monsanto promised would be gone before humans or animals ate the corn stays inside the grown corn and is being consumed and is in all products now made with all but organic corn. And it is in all soy products now and all sugar made from sugar beets. Cane sugar is the only way to go now on sugar.

    1. ozspeaksup says:

      spot on gena, canola gmo or not isnt a good oil its fit for horses hoof oiling and garage use.
      use lard , olive or coconut cold pressed as safer tastier natural fats:-0
      coconut oil is now helping kids with autism and people with alzheiners to restore some brain function. I think the best spot for coconut reportage is net news or Mercolas pages.

  24. Lux17 says:

    Hello Gena,

    I think we are on the same page. I would add stevia to the list of good sugars. Here is where to get the real thing, powdered leaves, not the extract:

    It has a unique flavor that may not be good for everything but it is great for sweetening tea.

    If you are stocking up on herbs, this would be the place. How about a whole pound of thyme
    For $10.10. They have some medicinal herbs as well.

    Live medicinal and culinary plants here:

    Seeds for medicinal and culinary plants here:

    Lux shamelessly promotes his own work here (including prepper stuff):

    Check out my bean sprouted (since we are on the subject of food). It is easy and it cost me less than $1 each. I have sprouted a lot of beans/seeds including lentils (I have had these for over 10 years and they sprouted fine), black eyed peas, garbanzo beans and the really easy ones mung beans.


  25. Lux17 says:

    Splelling correction

    That would be bean sprouter. My spell check changes it

  26. Lux17 says:

    Here is the Instructable for cooking with shortening (with a link back here):


  27. Hank Bondurant says:

    I use old motor oil from my oil changes. Buy one of the Beer Butt Chicken Cookers (or fashion a 4 leg) holder. You will find that the tube from a paper towel roll fits nicely. Cut the tube to be even with the top of a large metal can. Gallon cans from school cafeterias (they use dozens a day) work well. Fill within 1 inch of the top, Fashion a wire coat hanger so that each end first pierces a 9 inch aluminum pie tin, then down another 6 inches to holes in the top of the can. This will give great reflection and you will be suprised as to how much light they give off. If you have a friend at a restaurant, get their old cooling oil. I have used this for years, (motor oil used outside) and cooking oil inside. Beware that the smell of using Micky D’s french fry oil will give you a case of munchies.

  28. Donna says:

    I used Crisco in my lipstick tube when clear gloss lipstick didn’t exist in my high school days…when I told a few girlfriends what I did, they called me Lard-Lips! That ended my Crisco days.

    BTW, Crisco can be melted and poured into old glass candle jars or metal coffee cans for safety reasons, and scented oils or spices like cinnamon could be added for a delightful aroma.

  29. maggie says:

    I went to the dollar store and picked up one of their rope mops and plan on using one of these to make the wicks. You can’t beat the price and you can make a bunch of wicks with just one mop head!

    1. Mati' says:

      Great idea, Maggie. I’m off to buy a ‘cotton’ mop head!
      What a great site for survival ideas.

  30. Kamiko says:

    I like this, thank you for sharing. i share many of your posts for my prepping for disaster page on my personal Facebook page, and i share your links to your site! you are good at what you do, glad to see someone taking this seriously. im prepping more for Zombie Apocalypse, but disaster works good too!

  31. Jay Overman says:

    These are some really great ideas. Here’s one I use without the open flame. This is a light source only. I use my homemade jet stove made from an aluminium beer can for cooking. For an emergency light source I use the solar lights intended for outside lighting. I use the solar lights with an on off switch on the solar panel. This way the lights won’t automatically come on when it gets dark unless the switch is in the on position. I’ve made wooden lamps stands for my solar lights and have them in my home and camper. This way I can use them as lamps or remove them from the stands and use them as handheld lights. They will last all night +. I have several I bought at Walmart for $10.00 each. I working on a blog just so I can share what I’ve learned and experienced.


  32. Jack says:

    Great info. I am somewhat concerned about the container catching fire. Would filling a metal coffee can or large fire resistant glass jar with Crisco and a wick be just as effective, with the only exception being a possible difference in the candle’s max burning duration?

  33. ARdiver says:

    I wish to point out, under survival conditions when food is at a premium, the use of a fuel like bacon grease will draw all of your unwanted neighbors to your location looking for food!

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