DIY Tallow Emergency Candles
by Christine C.
For thousands of years, candles were the main source of illumination for people all over the world. Knowing how to make candles was considered to be common knowledge. People would set aside a day to render fat to make the candles they would need for the coming year.
At the turn of the 20th century, everything changed. A new machine made it possible to create over a thousand candles an hour— making it easier and more affordable than ever to simply buy candles instead.
Around this same time, electricity was becoming more common, and the artful tradition of making candles for the year ahead would soon be forgotten. Now, this once common skill is almost gone. As a result, many people today would feel lost in the dark without modern light sources.
Luckily, candle-making isn’t completely dead. Some people make candles as an artistic hobby using materials like soy, paraffin, or beeswax. In fact, it can be hard to find candle-making tutorials online that don’t use these substances.
While these waxes do have their advantages—they will likely become expensive and hard to find in the event of a widespread long-term blackout. For this reason, it’s wise to know how to make candles using readily available materials and tried-and-true methods.
By following the same methods that were practiced by our ancestors for thousands of years, we can be more than prepared for when the lights go out.
How to Make DIY Emergency Tallow Candles
Although tallow candles were available at various shops throughout the centuries, most families preferred to make their own. Tallow, or suet, is made of rendered beef or sheep fat but other animal fats were sometimes added if not enough tallow was available.
It’s important to note that pig fat is the exception to the rule as it doesn’t render the right texture to make a good hand-dipped candle. If you need to use lard for your candles, be sure to have plenty of other fats in the mix or opt for a container candle instead.
You can save and freeze fat collected overtime to make the candles you need. Additionally, some butchers are more than happy to sell or give away beef fat to customers who ask in advance.
Types of Tallow Candles
There are two kinds of tallow candles: hand-dipped and container candles. Hand-dipped candles are the most traditional candle-making method. However, depending on the quality of the fat used to make the tallow, they can take longer to harden.
This type of candle is created by twisting a cotton string into a wick and dipping it repeatedly into the tallow until a candlestick forms to the desired thickness. Container candles are made by pouring rendered tallow around a formed wick inside of a jar or other vessel.
For both candle styles, you will need:
- A crockpot, heavy-bottom pot, stockpot, or a double boiler. Plus, a second pot for filtering and collecting the finished tallow.
- A colander or funnel.
- A low-heat source.
- 1 – 3 lbs. (0.4kg – 1.3kg) beef fat cut into small chunks with most of the meat and gristle removed.
- Prepared wick or braided/twisted cotton string. (Use thicker wicks for larger candles and thinner wicks for smaller candles.)
- Glass containers such as mason jars or reclaimed tin cans (if making container candles)
- Cheesecloth or similar material
- Herbs or oils to improve scent or as a natural insect repellent. (optional)
While rendering fat might be the most time-consuming step when making DIY tallow emergency candles, it’s also a very rewarding experience.
There are two popular rendering methods: wet rendering and dry rendering. Wet rendering is when you add water to your fat while in the pot, and dry rendering uses no water.
Wet rendering is most often used when a crockpot or slow cooker isn’t an option as it helps to prevent burning and cuts down on any lingering “beefy” smell in the finished candle.
Dry rendering is ideal for rendering tallow that will be used for cooking as it is more flavorful, but since we’re making candles, the method of preparation is completely up to you.
For the full instructions, including pictures, please read complete article, at ASK A PREPPER
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