12 ingenious emergency lights lanterns and candles

A flashlight is a pretty standard piece of gear in any home. However, how many times have you reached for the flashlight and discovered the batteries were dead? Or maybe it just quit working altogether. Unless you invest in high quality, expensive flashlights, you are likely to come across this problem quite often. Typical flashlights are heavy and they require a lot of batteries, which are also heavy. You need a backup to the flashlight. While they are certainly very handy when you need a quick light, you will do yourself a huge favor by having some standbys for when you are sitting around at home when the electricity is out. Prepping is all about having backups for your backups.

These are 12 ingenious ways to light up your home when the lights go out.


Emergency Solar Lights

Head to the dollar store and buy several of the outdoor solar lights. These come with batteries and do not require you to do much more than leave the lights outside or in a bright window to get charged. The lights provide plenty of light when you put them in a room. In fact, the soft glow is pleasant and you will still be able to fall asleep. You can either hang the lights from the ceiling to act as a lamp or duct tape them to the hall to provide enough light to maneuver through the house without tripping.


Crisco Candle

Make an emergency candle that will burn for days out of a can of Crisco or another brand of shortening. Buy a wick, use a butter knife to push the wick through the center of the shortening and you have a quick, easy and fairly inexpensive candle. Make a Crisco Candle

Crisco Candle

Butter Candle

That stick of butter in the fridge can be dropped into an empty jar and used as a candle. You will need to put a wick into the stick of butter. Use a toothpick or butter knife to push the wick through to the bottom. You can expect to get about 1 hour of light per tablespoon of butter. Make a Butter Candle

butter candle

Tuna Can Candle

Canned fish, like tuna or salmon, is typically packed in oil. Use a screwdriver or sharp knife to cut a small hole in the top of the can. Insert a wick into the hole and give it a gentle flip upside down to coat the wick with the oil. The best part about this, is you can still eat the canned fish after you have used it as a candle. Make a Tuna Can Candle

Tuna Can Candle

Crayon Candle

Don’t throw away those old crayons you have stashed away in the closet. In fact, you can do yourself a huge favor by buying old crayons at thrift stores and when they go on sale during back-to-school sales. Crayons are lightweight emergency candles that do not require a wick. Simply light the top of the crayon, drop a few bits of the melted wax on a metal or glass surface and stand the crayon in it. The paper around the crayon is your wick. You can stand several crayons together for more light.

Emergency Oil Lamp

Pour cooking oil into a small jar or an empty tin can. Put a wick in the center of the oil. You can hold the wick in place with a paperclip or punch a small hole through a lid and place it on the jar. Dip the wick in the oil to get the flame going. DIY Oil Lamp

DIY mason jar oil lamp

Milk Jug Lantern

Use your LED headlamp to light up a small table. If you have an old milk jug around, fill it with water. Fasten the LED lamp to the jug of water with the light facing into the water. The water will refract the light, giving you a nice glow. You can set the water jug in the center of the table so you can play board games, write or play a game of cards.  Milk Jug Lantern

Milk Jug Lantern

Pencil Light

Transform an ordinary graphite pencil into a flashlight with the help of a car battery and some old speaker wire. Use a knife to cut the pencil in half so that you can extract the graphite. Wrap one end of the wire on a one inch piece of graphite. Attach another piece of wire to the other end. Attach both ends of the wire to a terminal on the battery – one on each terminal. The graphite will glow and provide you with some light. Each one inch stick will glow for about 20 minutes. You could substitute a car battery for a portable charging device.

Christmas Lights

A standard car battery, lawnmower battery or motorcycle battery will power a strand of LED lights. You will need copper wiring and duct tape. Wrap a piece of wire around each terminal and then tape the wire to the end of the diode of the light. LEDs require very little juice and can stay lit for hours with a charged battery.

Christmas Lights

Tealight Lantern

Transform a basic tealight into a lantern with the help of an old pop can. Carefully cut the can open, down the center and fold back the edges. This will create a reflective shield. Place the tealight in the exposed center and light it. The flame will reflect off the back and sides of the can to throw a nice light on a table or counter. Make a Tealight Lantern

tealight lantern

Fat Lantern

Create a lantern out of an old pop can or tin can, a strand from a mop head and excess meat drippings. Pour the meat drippings, fat or grease into the can. Place a strand of the mop head into the can. If using a tin can, use a paperclip to hold the wick up. Dab some oil on the mop head/wick to get the flame started. Fat Candle

bacon fat candle

Coffee Can Lantern

An old coffee can (the metal can) can be transformed into a hanging lantern. Use rope or wire to hang your makeshift lantern. An old wire coat hanger would work as well. Poke two holes on the side of the can and run the wire through to form a loop. Poke a hole on the opposite side, which will not be the bottom of your lantern. Stick an emergency candle through the hole. The light will reflect off the metal can and create an adequate lantern to light up a small space.

Coffee can Lantern

I hope that you find these 12 tips useful, feel free to share with others.