The humble candle is a very viable light source. They can also be used to start camp fires. Candles are small, long lasting, have an extremely long shelf-life, readily available, and they just look cool when burning. You can stock up on candles from a variety of outlets including department stores, specialty stores, and even dollar stores. You can keep candles for MANY years and they can be used without power or batteries. And, let’s face it, they give a nice glow and add some atmosphere to a room.

There are a few caveats when using candles. They do produce a flame and flames can be bad. When burning a candle be sure to place it on a an insulated and non-combustible base. When the candle burns to the bottom it can generate heat that could burn the surface under it. Even the candles in glass jars can generate sufficient heat to burn table tops (learned this one the hard way). Put something under your candle such as a small plate, decorative glass or ceramic base, etc.

Candles are open flames so never, repeat NEVER, leave them unattended. Extinguish them when leaving your house or campsite. Do not leave them unattended in different rooms that you cannot monitor from your location. When outdoors use them only in enclosed candle lanterns so that the flame will not escape or spread. There are a number of old-school candle lanterns available from Cabela’s, REI, UCO, etc. These lantern generate about 20 lumens of light, cost around $20, and one candle can burn for up to¬†9 hours.

Candles can also be used in your emergency kits as fire starters. Candles can burn for a long time and can make an effective fire tinder. The “trick” birthday candles are almost impervious to wind and can be effective when lighting fires.


Have several candles in your home kit and you may want to add at least one candle lantern in your vehicle kit. While battery powered lights are often preferable, candles are long-lasting, inexpensive, and reliable. Consider purchasing the larger candles for longer life and check local dollar stores for good deals.