The lights are out… now what?

One of the biggest mistakes preppers make is filling their survival caches with all manner of expensive and technical supplies while forgoing research and preparation necessary to meeting some of the most basic likely challenges of a long term grid down scenario. You know all those expensive flashlights and fuel lanterns you own? Well, depending on how long a survival situation lasts, there’s a possibility that they’ll become useless before your need for off the grid light sources ends.

Imagine spending thousands on prepping gear only to find yourself sitting in the dark because you didn’t consider the need for cheap light that doesn’t require a power source. You can save yourself that headache by going ahead today and picking up a few boxes of cheap emergency candles to store with your prepping equipment.

It also may be a good idea to have a store of wax on hand for grid down preparedness.

Wax is useful for a number of prepping scenarios, as illustrated in the below video.

If you have wax on hand, you make candles using these instructions from Old Sturbridge Village:

Equipment Needed

Thermometer – Type used for jelly or candy making.

Double Boiler – This can be a tall metal juice can in a pan of water, stove or hot plate.

Wax – Good candle wax, often referred to as “145 melt point” – It is harder than kitchen paraffin and makes better candles..

Wicking – Medium or fine-braided cotton wicking, purchased by the yard.

Sticks, pencils, or dowels for holding the wicks.


Sharp Knife

Newspapers for the floor

Pot Holders

Baking soda – for safety, have an open bowl of baking soda nearby; it can be used to extinguish fires in an emergency.


  1. Start the wax melting:

Break up the wax into fist size chunks, put them into the top pot of the double boiler over medium heat so that the water is boiling. It will take about 1/2 hour to melt the wax. When the wax is nearly melted, check the temperature. The wax should be 150 degrees. If it too hot, turn it off and wait for it to cool down.

  1. Get the wax ready:

While the wax is melting, measure out a piece of wick that is about the same length as your wax container. Add 2 inches to tie the knot. Tie each wick around a stick. You can put more than one wick on a stick as long as they fit in the pot without touching. **Caution: Remember that wax and fire are a potential hazard. don’t overlook basic care and safety. Watch out for loose clothing. Keep pots firmly on the burners. Have potholders ready. You might like to know that wax at 150 degrees will not burn you but the hot water is a hazard. Throw baking soda on any drops near the stove or burner.

  1. Dipping the candles:

Dip the wick into the wax so that the wick, not the knot, is submerged. This is just a quick dip; take it right out and wait a few seconds for wax to harden. Dip again. For the first three or four dips the wick will be crooked and kinky. After about four dips, gently pull the wick straight. Be careful not to pull off the wax. After each dip now you should straighten the candle. In the beginning you can dip in fairly quick succession, but as the wax builds up, it retains heat and you must wait several minutes between each dip. A candle gets dipped about 20 times. You can judge for yourself if it is the right size if it looks like it will fit into a candle holder. When it is the right size, cut off the oddly shaped butt end with a knife and dip it once more into the wax. Let candles “cure” by hanging the sticks somewhere for an hour or so. Cut the candles from the sticks.


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