Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Emergency Candles

You can find loads of videos on youtube telling you how to light your sardine oil on fire.  I decided to try bacon grease today.  Perhaps no surprise, it works great.  Here's how I made my emergency porcine luminary.

1. Fry up some bacon.

2. Important step: eat the bacon.

3. Pour off the drippings into a fire-safe container.  I used a glass desert dish.

4. Unroll a cotton ball, take about 1/4 of it and roll it into a thick wick.  Mine wound up being about 5-6mm thick and about 2 inches long.  I soaked it in the drippings so it would sink instead of float, then put it all the way down with about 1/4 inch exposed.  I used a plastic fork to keep the wick from sinking out of sight as it wanted to do.  A tooth-pick would work as well.

5. Pop the whole thing it into the freezer to expedite setting but you could probably let it set out at room temperature for the same effect, or set it in the snow.

6. After hardening, it took about three matches to get it going.  One might have done it if I'd been smart and held my bacon candle at an angle to begin with.  A thinner wick or more exposure might have made this easier.

7. (Optional) I cut the bottom out of a water jug to make a diffuser / hurricane lantern enclosure and set it out on the picnic table.  And there it glows.

Bacon + Fire = Perfection
I'll update this post with the total burn time for six strips of bacon later on.

Update as promised: The bacon candle provided reliable light and modest heat (perhaps enough to keep a tarp shelter warm) for 5.5 hours and then began to flicker as the fuel ran short.  Depending on conditions, I would estimate it has another 15-20 minutes of flicker left in it.

Post action summary: I lit this thing at 6:25 PM and had to finally blow it out at 1:00 AM.  It had consumed almost all the grease and most of the wick remained intact.  The inside of the jug is covered in a thin but quite distinct layer of soot.  Definitely not something I recommend for use in your home.  As with all open flames, use caution.  I blew this out because I wanted to go to sleep and not hear the wife complain of the picnic table / deck / house being on fire - as unlikely as it may be.

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