How to Make Emergency Candles out of Common Items

J5 Tactical Flashlight

How to Make Emergency Candles out of Common Items


There are number of items that you can convert into emergency candles by making a couple of simple modifications.  The following examples are just a few to consider, and they may help you to think of other options as well.  At the end of the day, these small tricks can be worth their weight in gold during a survival situation when you don’t have access to other lighting options.

Lip Balm

You have a couple of options when it comes to turning lip balm into an emergency candle, depending on whether the balm comes in a stick or container.  If you are using a stick, find a sturdy object such as a twig or the ink tube of a pen and insert it through the top center and push down.  This will create a hole where you can insert a makeshift wick.  You can use any material that burns as a wick, as long as it is sturdy enough to be pressed through the center of the stick.  Push it through until about ½ inch of material is sticking through the top and trim as needed. 

The next step is to twist the material up and out of the tube and gently press it against the wick with your fingers.  Twist the material back down into the tube and attach the cap.  All you need to do is light the wick when you need the candle and you’re good to go.

You can use a similar approach if you are working with a can of lip balm, and this may turn out to be a more preferable option.  One of the benefits of using a can is that it won’t melt like the tube will as the fire burns.  Another benefit is that you don’t need as much material to make the wick as the reservoir of balm is not as deep.  Finally, you can extinguish the candle and cover it up for future use whereas you may need to discard the tube of lip balm after it has burned once.  In any case, both options work, and the container or tube is compact and easy to store until needed.

Butter or Shortening

Using butter or shortening is a common and well-known trick, but it is worth repeating due to its effectiveness and simplicity.  All you need to do is twist up a piece of fabric tightly and insert it into the top of the material.  Light it up, and you’re good to go.  You can also use some paper or cardboard as a wick as well.  Experiment with different options until you find the item that burns the slowest and for the longest period of time.


Crayons are perhaps the easiest items to convert into an emergency candle since they don’t need a wick to work.  Simply stand the crayon up vertically and light the end.  The trick with a crayon is that you need to find a way to hold it in place while it burns.  There are limitless options to consider, but one suggestion is to use a paper clip.  Pull out one end of the clip and bend it at a 90 degree angle so it faces up.  Then pull apart the rest of the clip to expand the base to provide some stability.  All you need to do is put the crayon inside a flat object that can be used to collect the dripping wax and you’re all set.

These are just a few examples of common items that can be converted to candles in an emergency.  The goal is to have more than one option to serve as a backup if you run out of candles or batteries for your flashlight.  Try these ideas out for yourself, and keep an eye out for other options that you can use during an emergency so that you always have a source of light available when you need it the most.