Make your own old-fashioned survival lamp
03/23/2017 / By D. Samuelson / Comments
Make your own old-fashioned survival lamp

Our post modern life is so filled with the spoils and ease of electricity, we use other very convenient objects to produce light when the power goes out. You’ve probably got a few flashlights, along with candles and matches and logs for a fire. But what if the power goes out for an extended period of time? Eventually your non-rechargeable batteries will wear out while your candles burn out. So it’s important to rediscover how our great-grandparents, and their great-grandparents, who didn’t have the benefits of Edison’s (or Tesla’s) genius, would make sure they could read, write, or complete some indoor chores after sunset., reminds us that “until petroleum refining took off in the mid-19th century,” the methods of illumination were candles, oils and natural fats. Olive oil and whale oil were accessible to the upper echelons of society, while poorer folks relied on rendered fat, called tallow, along with a piece of string, twig, cloth or fiber to provide a wick.

Tallow may be an unfamiliar word, although according to, this substance has been used to help heal skin, cook food and as a source of energy for thousands of years. Tallow comes from the fat that wraps around “the organs of a cow, deer, bison or bear.” It’s also known as suet. After a specific heating process, the tallow and suet separate. After the liquid tallow is filtered, it can be utilized for soaps, skin balms, cooking oils, candle making and of course, survival lamps.


To make your tallow survival lamp, place what you’ve chosen as your wick in a small dish, or, if you’re in a survival mode, use a piece of bark or a shell with capacity to hold at least a tablespoon of tallow oil.  If you’d prefer the wick not be lying sideways, and it’s small enough to pull through a button hole, that button can be positioned to help the wick stand up straight. Pour the melted tallow into the holder, soaking one end of the wick. Let it soak for a few minutes before lighting. One tablespoon of tallow can create soft light for about 45 minutes. It’s not a bright light, and it may give off an odor or smoke. But in a serious emergency a tallow lamp could be very important.

Another quick and even easier to make survival lamp suggestion is from, who suggests that not only are sardines a great protein filled with Omega-3 fats, if they are packed in olive oil, you can use the sardine can to be the candle holder and the olive oil as your source of oil. In this instance, their wick is a piece of rope from a mop. Once the wick soaks up the oil, you can light your candle. It may smell a bit fishy, but at least you’ll have a little light. (RELATED: For more ideas on how to to prepare to survival see




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