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And God said "Let there be light"...

Discussion in 'Blogs' started by Falcon15, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    It is a well understood principle of preparing that you need fuel for heat and cooking. The byproduct of an open fire is light. What about lighting the rest of your domicile in a SHTF scenario?

    Camping lanterns are commonly propane or battery powered. So unless you have an infinite store of propane (and mantles) or batteries (and extra bulbs), you will eventually need a light source. Hurricane lanterns, while extremely efficient, still require oil, wicks, and replacement chimneys (I have broken my share and a hurricane lantern without a chimney is worthless). You can rig up expedient oil lamps, also known as "tallow candles". However, you can also pour candles. Cheaply. Now.

    How? Allow me to illustrate.

    My wife is a teacher, and has, over the years, accumulated what seems like a ton of broken and used crayons. A majority of these are made from soy wax (with a colorant added). These can be a ready source of literally "free" wax, as they are for us. Just have your free labor force (in my case the kids) peel the paper covering off each one before melting. Save this paper, it makes an excellent addition to home made "wax cup" fire starter/tinder (paper egg cartons with each depression stuffed with lint, paper and/or pencil shavings. Melted wax is poured into each cup, adding more lint, shredded paper, or pencil shavings, as needed to make sure the cup is full, and allowed to solidify. Cut each cup out and you have a waterproof, highly transportable fire starting fuel. Just break chunks off with a knife, set in your tinder and light).

    Another source of "free" wax is the leftover wax from previously burned candles. the stubs of tapers, the wax clinging to the inside of that big glass candle on your mantle that has no more wick, emergency candle stubs.

    The wax you are "scavenging" will not make pristine, white candles, unless you use only white crayons. While you can make "single color" candles, is it really worth it? The color of a mixed crayon candle will be muddy and dark, but who cares? You are not selling these, they are for home use only. It is not like you are too worried about your decor in a SHTF scenario, besides who really looks at the color of a candle?

    Wicks can be made by soaking cotton string in a borax, salt, & water solution, and the very wax you are melting for candles. Even those "scented wax disks" tat you get for use in a scent diffuser can be used. I like adding these to melting candle wax for a nice scent. Just be sure not to mix scents and you are golden.

    Making regular cotton candle wicks is simple. You’ll just need some salt, borax, water, candle wax, and cotton string, yarn, or twine. You can usually find borax in the laundry detergent aisle of your grocery store. Some people use it to make their own laundry soap. You can vary the width of the string you use to make your wick in order to get wicks of different diameters.

    1. You’ll need to make a solution to dip the string in to make it into a wick. Mix 2 tablespoons of regular table salt, with 4 tablespoons of borax, and then dissolve that mixture in 1 ½ cups of warm water.

    2. Drop a string into the mixture and leave it there for 15 minutes. If you’re not sure how much string to use, measure your candle mold and add about 3 inches to your measurement. That’s how long you’ll want your wick to be.

    3 .Pull the string out of the mixture and hang it up to dry. A clothesline and clothespins work perfectly for this.

    4. After the wick is completely dry, melt some wax in a double boiler and dip the wick into it. Make sure the wick is completely saturated with wax before you take it out. You’ll need to use either a pair of tweezers or a paper clip to dip the wick into the wax so you don’t burn yourself.

    5. Pull the wick out of the melted wax and give the wax a few moments to cool enough so you can safely touch the wick. Then grab both ends of the wick and pull it tight.

    6. Lay the primed wick out flat on a piece of wax paper to dry. Make sure it’s stretched out when you lay it down so you’ll have a nice straight wick when it’s time to put it into a candle.

    Using two hands, you can hold the wick (or wicks if you have a mind to make multi-wick candles) upright in your candle "container" as you pour the melted wax in. If you make the wick slightly longer than you need, you can tie a loop for holding the wick when you are pouring wax into the candle container, slip a pencil, pen, or chopstick through the loop and rest it on the lip of the container.

    Cotton string - like "butchers twine" can be bought for $3.00 for 185 FEET. If you reuse small Christmas tins, old (GLASS) jelly jars, you have reduced you cost down even further. Heck, any heat proof container, like old glass candle containers, canning jars, even tin cans can be used as a candle container. My wife has made "milk carton" candles using old paper "quart sized" milk or half and half cartons to make some very nice square "pillar" candles as well. Just cut the top off, pour the wax (with the wick in place). Once it cools completely, just peel the paper container off the candle.

    Yeah, I'm cheap, but saving money on stuff like candles, even cutting my cost down by a $1.00 each, is one more dollar I can spend on other preps.

    Got preps? Pray for the best, prepare for the worst.
  2. Sapper John

    Sapper John Analog Monkey in a Digital World

    Thanks for the info,great prepping ideas Falc !
  3. weegrannymush

    weegrannymush Monkey+

    Wow, so much great info! Thanks for the post. Only problem with me is that it is many years too late, lol, no kids in my vicinity! But I'll keep my eyes open, you never know what might land in my lap, so to speak.

    A while ago, I was wanting to make hobo stoves for times when my power was out (which is fairly frequent in this area) and I don't want to have to get a great roaring fire going in the woodstove - I was horrified at the high price of paraffin wax nowadays. I hadn't bought any for years, since I stopped using it for jam and preserves and I found that it was now four times more costly! I'm like you, I will do anything to save a buck - it's that Scots blood again, lol.
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