7 Ways to make emergency candles

You’re having a nice, relaxing night when suddenly the power goes out. Luckily, you have a flashlight, but you want to conserve your battery just in case it ends up being a prolonged outage. You realize regretfully, that you don’t have any emergency candles and stumbling around in the dark is a sure way to get both injured and irritated. From stormy weather to power grid failure, outages happen and it’s important to have emergency lighting available. Ideally, you would have oil lamps, flashlights, and solar lights prepared, but what if you don’t? Emergency candle making is a prepping skill that you should learn. Here are 7 ways to make emergency candles.

Wicks in a pinch

How to make emergency candles
7 ways to make emergency candles

Candle wicks can be purchased on Amazon or at Wal-mart, but you may not have them when you need them. Luckily, there are many ways to construct wicks from everyday items like:

  • String- you can braid cotton string to make a wick
  • Cotton balls- pull apart and shred then wrap the material around a stick
  • Toilet paper- shred then wrap around a stick
  • Toothpicks- can be used as a base for your wick
  • Tampons- These have many survival uses. You can use the string as a wick or the tampon itself, impaled on a stick (think opening scene of Dracula ?‍♀️)
  • Cloth- you can create an outdoor only torch by shredding the cloth then wrapping it around a large stick

If you dip your “wick” in wax or oil, it will burn for a long time. See? Making your own wick in a pinch is easy. You should set aside your wick-making supplies in a waterproof box so you’re ready to make a wick when needed.

Safety First!

Remember that these DIY candles are not the same as the glass jar candles you would purchase from a store. Be sure to take safety precautions when using these homemade candles.

Safety Precautions:

  • Never leave any candle unattended, DIY or designer, a flame is a flame and can quickly become a hazard
  • Make sure that your candle has a metal base or a fireproof surface under it
  • Keep your emergency candles away from flammable objects
  • DO NOT USE GASOLINE for an emergency candle!
  • Never leave pets or children around unattended candles
  • Always have an up to date fire extinguisher nearby

7 Best Emergency Candles

NameBurn timeMaterials needed
Crayon Candle15 – 30 minSingle crayon or multiple tied together
Butter Candle1 Hour per TBSP of ButterButter, toilet paper or wick
Citrus Candle6 – 8 hoursOrange, olive oil
Cooking Oil Candle2 hours or more depending on jar sizeCooking oil, mason jar w/ lid, drill or punch
Vaseline CandleVaries Vaseline, paper
Tin Can CandleVariesCardboard, aluminum can
The 100 Hour Candle100 hoursCrisco shortening, taper candle, mason jar

Use the guide below to learn 7 ways to make emergency candles.

1- Crayon Candle

Approximate Burn Time: 15 – 30 min

Make sure that the kids pick up their crayons because whole crayons can be used for more than coloring and breaking. In an emergency a crayon could become a prized commodity.

A crayon is basically the reverse of a store bought candle. Instead of the wick being in the center and the wax on the outside, you have the paper wick on the outside and the wax in the middle. The beautiful thing about an emergency crayon candle is that there is no prep work. A crayon is basically a candle that is ready to light!


  • Single crayon or multiple tied together
  • Non-flammable surface to put the candle on


  1. Melt the bottom of the crayon or crayons with an open flame then immediately stick to the plate or surface in an upright position.
  2. Light the top or tops.

Use a crayon as a emergency candle | North Carolina Prepper

2- Butter Candle

Approximate Burn Time: 1 hour per Tablespoon of butter

These candles are easy to make and should burn for about 4 hours. All you need is a stick of butter and toilet paper for the wick.


  • 1 Stick of Butter
  • Toilet paper


  1. Cut a 4 ounce stick of butter in half so you have 2 separate 2 ounce squares.
  2. Take a square of toilet paper and cut it into quarters. This will serve as your wick. Take the quarter and fold it diagonally and twist it into a strand. Fold some more over itself to construct a fish hook shape. Make sure that the wick is about a quarter inch longer than the butter is tall.
  3. Bore a hole through the center of the butter with a skewer or toothpick.
  4. Insert the wick into the hole.
  5. Roll the exposed wick around in the butter and light your candle.

Make An Emergency Candle Out of Butter | thekingofrandom

3- Citrus Candle

Approximate Burn Time: 6 – 8 hours

These candles take a a little patience to construct, but they are long lasting and worth the effort. The other candles on this list run off of wax or petroleum, but this one runs off olive oil. That means that as the oil runs low, you can add more to extend the life of the candle. Keep in mind that the wick won’t last forever so you can’t add oil indefinitely.


  • Lemon, orange, or grapefruit
  • Olive oil


  1. Carefully cut around the circumference of the orange, taking care to only cut through the peel, but not the fruit.
  2. Remove the peel from the bottom half of the orange, taking the pith (the long white stem) out with it. It should still be attached to the peel and look like a white stem sticking straight up from the inside of the peel you just removed.
  3. Now fill the orange peel bowl with some olive oil, soaking the pith as you go. Let it soak for a few minutes then light the pith the same way that you would light a candle wick.

It may initially be a little challenging to light the pith. Don’t worry! This is totally normal. If you hold a flame to it for 30 seconds, it should light.

Make a Lamp from an Orange in 1 Minute | Household Hacker

4- Cooking Oil Candle

Approximate Burn Time: 2 hours or more depending on the size of the jar


  • Any cooking oil (canola, olive, vegetable)
  • Mason jar with lid
  • Drill or punch


  1. Open your mason jar and remove the lid.
  2. Drill a tiny hole in the lid to accommodate the wick (make this a tight fit.)
  3. Insert your wick into the lid.
  4. Fill the jar with oil, but leave some space at the top.
  5. Put the wicked lid back on the jar.
  6. Light your candle.

DIY Mason Jar Oil Lamps (Making lantern and candle with cooking oil) | Great Lakes Prepping

5- Vaseline Candle

Approximate Burn Time: Varies

My Vaseline candle produced the brightest flame out of all the emergency candles that I made. The person in the video used original Vaseline container, but I recommend putting the Vaseline in a non-flammable container. Lighting a plastic container just seems like a hazard waiting to happen. The burn time of this candle will depend on how much Vaseline you are using.


  • Vaseline (preferably the original)
  • Wick


  1. If the Vaseline is in a plastic container, please remove the Vaseline and place it in another non-flammable container.
  2. Insert a wick and light her up!

DIY Emergency Candle With Vaseline | Science and Craft Hacks

6- Tin Can Candle

Approximate Burn Time: Varies based on size

This type of homemade candle works well as a light, mini stove, or even a space heater to warm up a small room. This is a great type of candle to know how to make especially if you live in a place that has very cold winters.

The only catch is that you need a source of wax. Consider adding a bucket of bulk wax to your supply shelf. If that’s not an option then you can use melted down crayons or remnants of old candles.


  • Empty can with no lid
  • Cardboard
  • Wax (pieces of leftover candles or other wax)


  1. Cut the cardboard into long strips about as thick as the can is tall.
  2. Coil the cut strips into the can starting from the center and working out. Fill the entire can.
  3. Melt the wax and pour it over the cardboard until it is all coated.
  4. To create the wick, take another strip of cardboard and insert the wick into the center of the wax covered coils.
  5. Light the wick.

These candles provide a large flame with plenty of heat and very little smoke. This is why they work so well as a mini stove or a small heater.

Homemade Tin Can Air Heater

7- The 100-Hour Candle

Approximate Burn Time: 100 Hours!

You should definitely learn how to make this candle that will last 100 hours. That’s over 4 days! These candles are cheap, easy to make, and they will definitely burn for 100 hours.


  • Crisco Shortening
  • 1 taper candle
  • 1 mason jar (or other suitable container)


  1. Pack your mason jar with shortening to a height of about 1 inch shorter than the height of your taper candle. Make sure that you pack the shortening tightly so that there are no air bubbles.
  2. Insert your taper candle into the middle of the shortening. Make sure that you push it all the way down to the bottom.
  3. Light and Enjoy!

How to Make Cheap “Forever” Candles | BacktoBasics Gal

How to make emergency candles
7 ways to make emergency candles

Remember that learning how to improvise can save your life and a true prepper never stops learning! I had a lot of fun making these candles and writing this article! Have you ever made any of these candles? Which candle do you want to make first? Comment below to share!

See you soon!