Old-Fashioned Tallow Candles

| 11/13/2017 8:26:00 AM

Tags: tallow candles, emergency candles, emergency lighting, old fashioned candles, container candles, tallow, lard, Kristi Cook, Tender Hearts Homestead,

Kristi Cook 


Of all the self-reliant skills I’ve learned over the years, one of my favorites is turning ordinary animal fats into emergency lighting. I’m talking plain, old-fashioned candles using whatever animal fat is on hand just as our ancestors did. This often free and readily available material makes creating candles in a pinch an easy task to accomplish, with the added bonus of requiring only basic equipment commonly found in the kitchen, a few items from the tool shed, and purchased or handmade wicking material.

While paraffin and beeswax candle bases have been around for many years, animal fat remains the most reliable material in times of need. Free to the livestock owner and hunter, any animal fat — sheep, elk, caribou, bear — may be used with mostly minor differences. For instance, lard made from pig fat tends to be softer and faster burning than tallow from beef or venison, thus making it difficult to create pillars or dipped candles. However, this softer fat is well suited for container candles that have the added benefit of being tidy and drip free. Tallow, on the other hand, makes excellent pillars and dipped candles perfect for situations when drips and melting tallow can be contained.


Molds and containers may also be made from readily available materials. Potato chip containers, waxed drink boxes, even sturdy, old paper towel rolls will work. These will, of course, be one use molds as they will need to be pulled off the candle prior to lighting. Other options include PVC pipe sliced down the middle to make a two piece mold. Just duct tape the two pieces together with a piece of cardboard taped to the bottom. Once the wax hardens and cools, cut the tape away and pull the candle out. For container candles, almost any nonflammable container will do. Old jelly jars, mason jars, soup cans, and even sturdy, heat proof pottery works nicely. Be creative, and you’ll find molds and containers just about anywhere.

11/14/2017 6:09:56 PM

Kristi, good information about making candles. The process doesn't seem to be that complicated. I burn jar candles in my computer room just to keep a nice smell in the room. You didn't mention it in your post but I suspect a bit of fragrance oils could be added to the candles, don't you think? I buy my candles from the bargain bin because I just don't have access to tallow or lard and don't know anyone that does. It's the urban living deprivation. ***** Have a great candle making day. ***** Nebraska Dave

mother earth news fair


Feb. 17-18, 2018
Belton, Texas

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!