A few years back Mrs Config put together an Altoids tin fire kit for me which included these really useful homemade bottle lid candles.
With her help, I decided to put together a quick tutorial to pass on this simple hack. I did it all using items I found lying around my in-laws house (not including the bottle lids that I’d saved to do this!) as I’m a believer in reusing and recycling wherever possible.
You will need:
To begin creating your survival candles, you need to drink some beer! Sure there are other beverages, but good ales always have the coolest lids. What I don’t recommend is drinking 10/12 beers right before working with fire – save some up over time if you can!
For this step I just snapped a half used candle stick in half and pulled out the wick (brut force required!). If you have two candles you might want to start by just breaking one (see Step 04).
I then cut the wick into roughly measured 1 inch strips. I didn’t have enough for all the bottle lids I’d collected so I found a ball of regular string (the soft cotton type) that I rolled around in a some melted wax, allowed to cool, straightened and then cut.
Next I gave the wick a bit of a fold, after a few attempts I tried to also curve the bottom part into a bit of a base. Some people online recommend buying tea light candle wicks, others stick these in using a bit of melted wax. I couldn’t be bothered with that, but my way wasn’t perfect. Have a little experiment and see what works for you!
So here’s where the two candles comes in. Hopefully you saved one of them intact from Stage 02. A number of people online have shared this DIY candle hack and suggest some crazy things like using crayons for the wax — which smell awful when burning — or using an oven/boiling water in pots or other random ways to melt your wax…
However, sometimes the easiest, most straight-forward solution is the best. Take a candle, light it, the wax melts. I held my other candle (now without the wick) in the flame at the same time to speed up the process. I ended up laying out and filling a number of lids at the same time, as they fill up pretty quickly.
As a complete experiment, I added a scoop of Tiger Balm to some of these. Tiger Balm is a natural herbal ointment that can be used for relief from muscle/joint pain and, among other things, as a bug repellent. Without any evidence or testing, I thought this might work in candle form.
I haven’t yet tested these candles for bug repellency. I won’t lay any claims to what effects Tiger Balm or any other ingredients may have, please use at your own
peril discretion. That all said, one thing it will do is add an aroma to your candle!
As the wax melts you have some time to adjust the location of the wick, which is handy when you’re trying to do more than one at a time. Sometimes the wicks might fall in (giving it the fold and a curve did helped somewhat), but I just used a pair of scissors to lift the wick out and get it into place. Ideally you want to have your wick in the middle of the lid.
Once the wax has set, you’re all done! Hopefully you’ll have a bunch of mini candles you can stick in your survival tin / pouch / whatever. I’ve used these as a starter for a fire in the wild, but they also work well if you just need a bit of light in the dark. They can last up to an hour, are easy to put together and don’t weigh much either.
I’ve put together a one pager of this for anyone who might like to share this on Pinterest – apparently it’s that kind of a thing! You can find that by clicking below…
If you have a different DIY project you’ve had success with and would like to share, let me know in the comments or drop me an email and we can create a post to share with everyone else.
Disclaimer: This DIY Survival Candle post details my own experience in creating these. Your experience may vary. I’ve been vague about running times on purpose – wax, wicks and bottle lids used will probably all play a part in the runtime. Following this posts instructions requires the use of lighters/matches, candles, scissors and fire! Please exercise the relevant caution when attempting to make these. I cannot accept any responsibility for any harm you (or others) may come to in the process of making these or their use. Create and use at your own risk!
Some of the photos were taken my by Sister in Law, Megan Thornett because I’m not an expert at taking photos of myself, unlike our senior contributor David Massey who’s a pro at it!