Saturday, February 4, 2012
Hillbilly Emergency Candle
Right about now, you might be asking yourself "Why is Mr. Kevlar showing me a picture of a regular old steel can?" Well that is because it is not just a can, grasshoppers. I am going to try and spice up the blog with some survivalist/DIY type stuff and here we have what we might call the Hillbilly Emergency Candle. If you are like me, you might get a bunch of catalogs from various companies with all manner of survival and emergency equipment. Some is great and some of it is junk. But most of us simply cannot afford every single type of equipment that we might need or want. So I find that ways of increasing my preparedness without spending much money are very valuable. By the way, I did not come up with this myself, one of my good buddies showed me how to make these a little while ago, so remember that there is always more to learn.
So that brings us back to the hillbilly candle. The materials are common and cheap or free. Start with an empty food can that has been washed out and preferably opened with one of those side opening can openers. More on that in a second. Most of us eat canned food at least a little, so the can is pretty much free. The second ingredient is some cardboard, another item you probably throw away every week. (you should recycle though- don't be an asshole)
Cut and roll the card board into a tight spiral that will fit in the can, stopping just below the rim. The last item that you need is two blocks of paraffin wax, available from just about any grocery or hardware store. It is very cheap and has many uses so it is not a bad idea to keep a box or two around. To complete the hillbilly candle, melt the wax in a double boiler (place a pot with the wax blocks inside a larger pot of boiling water) Let the wax melt, but be careful to not let it get too hot. (It should not smoke), Then simply pour the wax into the can and over the cardboard. Try to let the wax cover as much of the cardboard as possible. Let it sit for quite a while as the wax will stay liquid for longer than you might think. Keep in mind that the can will be hot, so don't burn yourself.
And there you are, one hillbilly emergency candle. Burn time is estimated at about 8-9 hours. It is good for low level illumination, you can warm up some soup or water for coffee or whatever on it. It does make a lot of sooty smoke, so don't burn it in your mama's house. Also, keep in mind that a fire inside a steel can will make said can very hot, so don't come crying to me if you pick it up after it has been burning for 3 hours and leave your fingertips on it. To extinguish the flame you simply put the lid down on it and cut off the fire's oxygen supply. That is why I recommend the side cut lids because they make a tight seal with the rim and are also easier to hold and less likely to cut you. The hillbilly candle can take the place of or supplement real standard and emergency candles, firestarters, Sterno cans or other types of open flame heating elements. It is completely waterproof, mostly windproof and about as cheap as can be. My next project is to make a couple out of smaller cans for decreased weight and size, like the ones that tomato paste comes in.