Underrated Survival Prep – Candles

My wife is a candle freak. We have spent a small fortune on Partylite and Yankee Candles over the years. They are decorative and are functional providing light in a lightless room. When it comes to preparedness candles are a huge resource often overlooked.

Incredibly inexpensive with an indefinite shelf life candles have been around since 200 BC. Beyond providing valuable light candles are useful for other purposes such as fire starting, cooking, and to a minimal extent they can provide heat.candles

Candles come in all shapes and sizes and made from a variety of materials. Some have one wick while others have multiple. They can be found in containers such as glass jars and metal tins. Candles also can be standalone pillars of varying sizes. I am sure we are all familiar enough with candles to bypass a further analysis of soy versus beeswax versus paraffin, etc. You light a candle and it burns with a flame. Pretty simple.

Candles should be a solid part of any survival supplies put back. Wal-Mart and craft stores are both excellent places to find them at great prices. My favorite type of candle is a jar candle. Candles can certainly be a fire hazard and with jar candles the chance of the flame getting out of control is slim. Either way – they should not be left unattended.

With my recent acquisition of a Candlelit Oven and am stocking up on tealights by the bag full. I continue to put back candles of all types.

Don’t forget the matches.









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21 thoughts on “Underrated Survival Prep – Candles”

  1. Rourke- Tell your wife we smart woman think alike-grin!!! Yankee candles are more expensive but they do smell great and they last a long time. With coupons they are a better buy. When we lost our power a few weeks ago my husband (who isnt very romantic) said well we can certainly have a candlelight dinner.
    I smiled and yes the candles came in handy .Another great cheap source of light is solar lights that one can bring in from the yard -you use several but they do help.

  2. Great way to light up the night and provide warmth to a small space. Invaluable to preppers who live in the north where power failures during blizzards leave the home owner stuck at home with few options.

    We’ve used religious ‘votive’ candles to save our backyard citrus trees during hard freezes. After covering tree with cover, a several candles lit underneath this provide overnight warmth, saving the tree from dying.

  3. my only thought-stay away from scented candles-they can cause allergic reactions and/or alert others to your location via the scent. never can have too many of them. . . or zip ties-another subject for a write-up, Roarke.

  4. Gotta disagree with you 100% on this one. Lots of folks burn to death with fires started by candles and there are none in my home anymore. It’s the 21st century and lots of solar, battery, and even muscle powered cheap led lights are available. When I took my local CERT course a few years ago, the sheriff leading the course also described the many deaths she has seen as a forensic examiner due to candles. I know, we’re too smart to have it happen to us but there are no candles in my house. JMHO.

  5. I’ve been buying candles for years, primarily at thrift stores and garage sales, usually for around .25 each and never more than 3 for a dollar (Goodwill seems to charge .49-.99 each which is outrageous)all other thrifts are in the 3 for a dollar price range.
    I’ve probably amassed 500 or more and will barter or donate as needed. I store them in medium size Sterilite brand totes I get at Wmart for less than $5.

  6. I like candles myself but seldom burn one. Years ago, when the power was out at our ranch, I lit one of the candles in a jar. Woke up middle of night coughing. It was producing copious amounts of black smoke and I had to repaint much of the inside of the house. After that, I never trust candles in jars, instead preferring single wick candles of about 1″ diameter. Votive candles used at many Protestant alter tables often have a brass wick cap. This cap keeps the paraffin from running down the candle and makes for long burning. Everyone should think seriously about using these long burning candles and metal caps.


  7. Highly respect the opinion of the Panhandle Rancher, but have to ask the obvious. Did the smoke itself wake you up or did smoke detectors go off?

  8. Bob,

    The ranch house I was in is more than 100 years old, 900 sqft, and was built by the family who took the land away from the Indians (my family was the second that owned the land). We built a new house when I retired and used the old house infrequently, more like a line shack. The wife and I lived in it for a brief while and she pronounced it hot in the summer, cold in the winter, and full of bugs and of course she was right (men’s bathrooms should always be to the left and women’s to the right, because they are always ….). I was alone when the candle smoked.

    Like so many of my generation, long term impulse noise has degraded my hearing. I can’t hear whistles (which causes problems at qualification), a lot of beeping electronics and even smoke detectors. Thankfully the notch in my hearing is decidedly at the high frequency range so I can mostly discern normal speech. Tried top end hearing aids and was amazed to hear elevators talking to me, birds tweeting, and crickets chirping – even paper rustling as it was moved. After a while, I decided I liked my quiet and put the hearing aids in the drawer. We are doggy and I rely on their excellent hearing. I think they even realize I can’t hear well and make sure I know if something out of place is around. Of course I now wear the best in amplified hearing protection (MSA Sordin) when shooting, but about four decades too late.

    I started to loose my hearing in high school shooting .45acp in competition and flying. Pilots didn’t wear headsets in those days and the radios had hand held microphones and speakers. As the engines are unmuffled, the speakers were turned up as high as possible to hear over the engine roar. Later, a few rounds of .357 magnum fired in anger inside a house really rang my bells, and finally being too near incoming naval rifle fire finished the top end of my hearing curve.

    Long explanation but as you probably have inferred, but the two rooms of the old house didn’t have fire detectors. All of my ‘modern’ houses do have these wonderful devices and the dogs howl something awful when they go off in testing.

    These days there is no excuse not to have functioning smoke detectors. Ours are top end dual technology (smoke and CO), as is our PIR detectors (IR/microwave).

    Good catch. Thank you B(b.


  9. I have been to far too many structure fires started by unattended candles. You can’t fix Stupid.
    These things are a disaster waiting to happen in your house.
    Find another way to provide light.
    Ask your local fire dept. personnel how they like candles……

  10. Just one more thing, if you have a structure fire after SHTF then you are REALLY screwed, ’cause nobody is going to come and save your ass. You are on your own. Not like today when your local FD comes and mitigates the STUPID factor.

    • Debbie – Usage of candles is like utilizing anything with an open flame or high heat source – responsibility and safety. It’s a personal choice not a matter of intelligence.

  11. You are far too optimistic about the Human Condition. Many more people than you realize are truly wasting good oxygen.
    Talk to fire dept. personnel who deal with this stuff EVERY Day. Unless you are too proud to take informed advice. When you realize that you have recommended gear and actions that are going to end in needless death and injury, and property loss, then you need to have less of your ego invested in said advice.

    • You’re likely right. I think you should head a movement to ban all sources of open flame – gas grills, ANY grills for that matter, gas furnaces, gas water heaters, oil furnaces and of course the evil Tiki torch. We can move onward to other instruments of death – such as the vehicle which kills over 35,000 people per year. Guns – I don’t even need to mention that as our fearless Administration is working on that. How about bicycles? Over 700 deaths per year. Hey – only a little over 100 deaths per year due to candles.

      I am depressed now.

  12. Folks, I think DD has a point. Small children, high energy dogs, and candles are decidedly dangerous. I have a number of stockpiled candles in one of the freezers of all places. High in steric acid, these hard candles should never melt at normal house temperatures but I had the extra space.

    My experience with the candle in the old ranch house made a believer of me. About 4′ from the ceiling down was thick with black oily smoke. Never had the problem with uncontained candles or any other candle for that matter.

    Anyone else had a candle suddenly go smoky?

    Wife likes candles and usually has one of the scented ones on fire. I douse them whenever she leaves the room or goes to the bathroom. Think she’s on to me by now.

    We have three trash containers for plastic recyclables, paper and other burnables, and then everything else. Like most back in the 1950s, we burn the paper and similar trash in 55 gallon drums and I periodically bury the leftover ash when the barrel is half full. Living in the woods, you can bet we’re careful when burning the trash. I sometimes forget and call our burn trash the burn bag. Wife doesn’t even correct me any more. Those of you in Gov’t service may know for what a burn bag is used.

    Like flashlights, I am a fire extinguisher junkie. We have them inside most rooms and large ones outside the buildings. I have a big extinguisher on the welding trailer. Living in the country it would likely be up to the family to extinguish an out of control fire. Things would be crispy by the time the volunteer fire department made it up the mountain.

    From previous posts, some of you may know I collect rainwater in two 3000 gallon tanks. I have it plumed into the basement and available through freeze proof hydrants outside. Near the house is a riser with valve and fire department bib. I have gasoline engine powered high volume pumps that can really pressurize this water if needed.

    One can’t be too careful with any open fire, especially with active dogs and small children.


  13. Candles have their place .. just never sleep with them lit .. We always have plenty of wax when done .. spare candle wicks .. you can reuse the wax.. Though here in TN .. without a cool place the melt into big lumps no matter what I do.. Can’t do basements in this are due to soil.
    Anyone got a recommendation for beand of oil lamps as well ?

  14. Goingray,

    The only non pump straight oil lamp (well kerosine or coal oil) we stock are the wonderful Aladdin Lamps (see:http://www.amazon.com/Aladdin-Classic-Brown-Translucent-Bowl/dp/B004ABC77O/ref=sr_1_10?s=furniture&srs=9621098011&ie=UTF8&qid=1449774840&sr=1-10&keywords=aladdin+lamp).
    I like the glass bowls over metal as one can readily see the fuel level. These things require no pumping and put out about the light of an 80w incandescent. We have about a dozen in the house equipped with high altitude chimneys and brass insect shields on the top of the chimney. The green glass Lincoln drape bowl and white glass crenelated shades make for a wonderful appearing and so functional light. Of course we have spare chimneys, wicks, mantles, and hardware in metal boxes. We buy about 5 gallons of K1 Kerosine in the can each year. In the winter, these things are used for light and heat. You simply cannot do better. They kill mosquitoes and no seeums in the summer as well.

    We also stock the petromax multi fuel pumped lights (similar to the gasoline Coleman). Petromax is of similar design but will burn just about anything, gasoline or diesel and likely alcohol. (see:http://www.amazon.com/BriteLyt-Petromax-USA-500CP-XL/dp/B00J0EBJ8Y/ref=sr_1_8?s=outdoor-recreation&ie=UTF8&qid=1449775141&sr=1-8&keywords=petromax).


    • excellent feedback PR .. Thanks. I have added the info to my Amazon Wish List … I have been putting those things I want on there for a while .. so when someone asks.. “What to you want for ” I point to the wish list and say start there .. Don’t need more goofy pillows or clothes I don’t intend to wear .. Works well for my kids .. they seem to be at home buying that way .. older peers not so much .. at least it is a reference for me later since I can forget why I went to that room by the time I get there some days 🙂

  15. Rourke;
    On personal choice .. Yessir I agree.. tool/topic is almost irreverent really ..
    Perfect Security/Safety is the absence of free will .. i.e. no choice or “risk vs reward”.
    If my reasonableness measure is wrong ..
    Darwin will come knocking and natural selection makes sure I don’t do it again to teach anyone to do it that way right?
    Otherwise we are all good .. or lucky ..
    I got depressed watching CSPAN .. The debate between Dems and Repubs on firearms control via the Terrorist Watch list ..
    That was depressing ..
    Good thing I don’t own any guns or need to buy any… I might be mad or something.. whew!


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