Off Grid Home Forums Technical Discussion DIY 100 hour candles

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    • Liquid Paraffin (Lantern Oil)
    • Wicks
    • 1/2 Pint Mason Jars


    I am always on the look-out for homemade counterparts to store bought preparations. These DIY ’100 hour candles’ definitely fit the bill. In less than 5 minutes you have an inexpensive, refillable ’100 hour candle’ that will light up your home in the darkest of times. And for you ladies – these homemade alternatives are far more aesthetically pleasing than the store bought versions. So let’s get started.


    The supplies you need are pretty straight forward. Liquid paraffin, lantern wicks and 1/2 pint mason jars. I found my lantern wicks and mason jars at Walmart and the liquid paraffin at a local Hobby Lobby. The cost of each candle ends up being approximately $2.70 per candle. Which is about half the cost (at least) of the store bought versions.
    Just as a side note, it took me forever to find the liquid paraffin. Make sure when you’re calling around that you ask for liquid paraffin and not the paraffin wax. The paraffin wax is just a wax block that will melt then solidify when it cools. If you can’t seem to locate liquid paraffin you can replace it with mineral oil and coconut oil with a ratio of 2:1.

    Step One: Create Opening For Wick

    I used some grass-trimming shears but you can use a knife or any other sharp tool to create your opening. Just make it wide enough to fit in the wick SNUGLY.

    Step Two: Insert Wick

    Instead of just putting the wick in like a candle, we’re going to place it so that it is doubled over. First, pull the wick through the canning top so the end is sticking out on the side that will face inside of the mason jar. Next you’re going to use your knife (or shears for me) to push the second end through as well. This should make the wick fit in pretty tight.
    After having both ends through, pull down so that only a tiny amount of the folded piece of wick remains.

    Step Three: Pour Paraffin Into Jar

    Fill up your 1/2 pint mason jar with the liquid paraffin.

    Step Four: Secure the Top

    Separate the two ends of the wick so they are at a v-shape when they are put into the jar. This just helps the wick soak up the oil from both sides when it’s getting low. Place the top on the jar and screw the band on around it.

    To Prevent Evaporation

    The paraffin will evaporate if the wick is left exposed to the air. This is why the store bought versions will have a plastic cap with each candle. To prevent this from happening, simply get an extra canning lid and put it on top in between the wick and the band.

    Comparing to the Store Bought Version

    The benefits of making your own DIY emergency candles are substantial. First, they are cheaper. The least expensive place I found the store-bought versions were around $5.00. As I mentioned before, the homemade version comes out to about $2.70 each.
    Second, they put out more light. As you can see in the picture above, the flame is significantly larger. This could end up being a liability for you. It is obviously more dangerous, but proper candle safety should prevent any injury.
    Third, they are refillable. The store bought versions are made for a one-time use only.
    Fourth, they are made out of glass. Once again, this is more of a personal preference but my experience with the plastic store bought versions is that they very easily squirt lantern oil from the top if you hold them too tight. The light plastic also makes me nervous that they will tip. The durable and heavy glass of the mason jars eliminates the possibility of squirting flammable material all over your house and it is definitely more stable to prevent tipping.

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    How would this work if using pint or quart jars?


    Caverdude, I suspect you could use pint or quart jars, you just need to adjust your wick length and make sure you have enough fuel in the jar.

    Let us know if you try this, I’d love to know how well it worked for you. :)



    here is how i make improvised oil lamps im trying food grade mineral oil right now and it seems to work pretty good as well

    for off-grid lighting these types of lamps are great because you can use so many different things as fuel

    here is a good link with a few pics about betty lamps/grease lamps




    The problem is that the flame gradually reduces over time (<1 hr.) until it is out (this with a unit with a single 1/8″ wick and an experimental quad 1/16″ wick).  I first thought that it was caused by a vacuum in the jar, so I punched a tiny hole in the lid.  No improvement.  I then converted the quad wick to a double wick – again no improvement.  It acts like the fuel is not meeting the flame demand – fuel starvation!  In ALL candle examples tested, the wick material from flame to end of wick is 2X the base to flame distance, or 8″, with 4″ of wick material running along the jar bottom.

    I am using the newer Ball squat pint Mason Jar , both the 1/8″Fiberglass Wick material (#1284-10) and 1/16″ Fiberglass Wick material (#1376-10) in both double and quad wick configuration, and the TGWT-2.0-25 2″ Glass Wick Tubes, all combined for a jar base to bottom of flame height of exactly 4″.  I even punched a tiny hole in the lid near the wick tube to equalize the jar internal pressure/vacuum just like the commercial candles.  I also have tied off the submerged ends of the wicks with nylon thread to prevent wick unraveling (this material is really bad about this).

    What have I done wrong?  Fuel draw length is less than 7″,  jar internal volume is vacuum/pressure equalized, and I am using quality materials for a high quality liquid paraffin candle.  I need a consistent 1″ flame and a ~80 hr. burn time.  How do I fix this problem?

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