Making candles from tallow

When I told my husband that I was going to make four candles from the tallow I had made, he rolled his eyes. See, early on in our marriage I took the time to introduce him to the epic hilarity that is The Two Ronnies and their 'four candles' sketch. There's not a whole lot of my Britishness remaining, but that's one of the things that's hung on in there. My grandfather loved The Two Ronnies, and he passed on a love of their good, old fashioned humor to me.

So as I was rendering this tallow, a link I'd seen in a survival post a couple of week previously popped back into my mind. The link had suggested placing wicks in a large Crisco container and using it as an emergency candle. "Ewwwww," I had thought, "it's the only thing Crisco is good for." Not being a wild fan of GMOs, chemically processed food stuffs or consumables that began their lives in laboratories, Crisco has no place in my household. Bring on the butter, I say.

So this got me to thinking. If you can use Crisco, then why not this lovely free fat that I just happen to be rendering into tallow for soapmaking? It also so happened that I had a packet of candle wicks in my craft drawer, as I had been intending to order a whole pile of wax to make emergency candles from. Instead, I gathered some 8oz mason jars (one still bearing a label reading 'blueberry jam') and made candles.

Now, I'm not going to lie to you. When this tallow is rendered, it still smells vaguely of roast beef, and this disturbed me at first. However, I poured a test candle from a batch of tallow I was pouring for soap, and can confirm that it does not smell that way when it burns. It burns odorless, so for the remainder of the candles I made, I added a few drops of lavender oil. Just because.

Be sure to filter your tallow clean (if you make your own dog food, the cracklings that remain floating in the meat after the fat is melted can be added to their food and they will love you for it) using a piece of cheesecloth or a coffee filter. I happened to use a milk filter like this just because I had it on hand, and the filters that are designed to use with it were perfect.

Ideally what you should do is use a tiny dot of glue to hold your wick to the bottom of the jar, and then pour your liquid tallow into your 8oz mason jars, or whatever container you plan to use. However, my glue gun was somewhere in the attic and it's too cold to go rummaging around up there, so I poured the tallow in and then set the wick in.

Three of them set obligingly dead center, and the fourth tended to list over to one side, so I propped it with a spoon.

When they were cooled, I put mason jar lids on and set them on the countertop to harden fully. If you don't live in a single-glazed Alaskan-style freezebox like I do, or you encounter Southern Summers you may need to put them in the fridge. Mine will have to be transferred to a much cooler place come March.

The plan is to buy some small matchbooks like these and slip one into each jar and then put the lid back on and keep the candles for emergency use. We're preppers at heart and this method of having virtually free candles (when most candles really are terribly expensive) suits us perfectly! And I know that the fragrance is all-natural so it's just another way to banish nasty chemicals from our home.