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Home » Frugal Living, Preparedness

How To Make A Candle From Leftover Fat Drippings

Submitted by on February 10, 2012 – 6:43 am 12 Comments
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So, if you remember, we were talking the other day about all of the fat drippings leftover from my store-bought ground beef, and somebody asked me if I knew any uses for the leftover grease. I’ve just been pouring it into a glass jar up until now.

But then the night before last, I came across this article on The Survival Mom on making a candle from Meatloaf grease, and since I’d just happened to have made meatloaf that night (which was literally sloshing in grease) I knew it must have been meant for me to try!

I’m calling it a Homemade Tallow Candle, ’cause somehow that sounds so much more pleasant… and homesteader-ish.

Here’s what I did:

This is the fat drippings from two pounds of ground beef, including what I poured off of my meatloaf. You can see the sauce and bits of meat from the meatloaf settled at the bottom of the jar. I should have just scooped the fat off the top for this project, but instead I just dumped it all into an empty tin can.

I found a spare oil lamp wick in our emergency supplies, and sunk it into the middle of the grease, using a wooden skewer to hold it centered while the fat solidified overnight.

(The grease didn’t really get hard though. And I had a hard time keeping the wick in the middle of the “candle” as it burned.)

I was afraid the can might get really hot, so I put it on a wooden hot pad thingy to protect my countertop. I was curious to see how long it would burn, so at 10 am I started the clock, and lit her up! The wick was a couple inches tall, so the flame burned big and bright. I was pleased as I watched it continue to burn once it got down to the grease.

Several hours later, the flame was still going strong. But as the fat turned back into a liquid, the wick fell to the side of the can.

I stripped a twisty-tie and used the metal wire to prop the wick back in the center of the candle. It worked for a while.

It burned for 11 hours straight before the wick fell over into the grease and put itself out.

Overall, I was really impressed with how long it burned, how little smell it put off, and how little smoke it made. Surprisingly, it didn’t smell at all like burgers until I got down to the meatloaf remains at the bottom of the can. It would have burned longer, I’m sure, if I’d re-lit it.

Next time, I will definitely try to separate the fat from any sauce which might have mixed in before creating a candle. You might be able to can the grease, or freeze it to preserve it, otherwise it will start to get nasty.

If you needed to make one of these, and didn’t have any candle wicks, you could create your own by cutting a 100% cotton t-shirt into strips, and anchoring them with a metal nut tied to the bottom.

I think this would work particularly well in an old fashioned oil lamp. Then you wouldn’t have trouble with the wick falling over, and you could avoid the fumes and expense of lamp oil.

Yes, I will be making more of these for as long as I have fat to use!

I thought I’d make an impromptu video of the candle, just so you can get a better idea of how it burned…

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12 Comments »

  • Bill Szyjkowski says:

    I put My “drippings and juice/sauce in a bowl , then take the hardened tallow off into a zip lock bag. the juice and scraps sweetens the dogs kibbles. Simmering raw fat and tallow to render it works great, let it cool and freeze until you have enough. Don’t forget marrow bones, makes a tasty “butter”. Lastly, use a candle mold and a thin split of wood as a wick

  • Kami says:

    I’d love to try this! I’ve rendered my own beef tallow from grass fed suet in order to make a high smoke point frying grease. If you pour it through cheese cloth over a fine metal strainer, it will really clean it up. You could make them up and put them in the freezer to stay fresh, but I think canning it would be a great idea!

  • jackie says:

    I wonder if sterno like canisters can be made..good experiment! I love science :)

  • Sandra says:

    I stumbled on your post and saw your candle and said out loud “how creative” hmm, I wonder if I could tease my family with the smell of fresh sizzling bacon cooking by using the bacon fat made into a cute candle!

  • Julie Ashley says:

    Thanks, Kendra, for this idea. We will definitely be trying it. So far the only thing we’ve done with old grease is mix it with leftovers and feed it to my chickens and ducks. The lantern idea is a good one, too! I have an old lantern base and I’m going to try it with that. My girls have been trying to get me to let them do CANterns for a while but I have no spare wax so this may satisfy them, too. Blessings!

  • Cindy says:

    Thanks so much for this post. I will be following you from now on. I like your thoughts and praticality. I am wanting to be self-sufficient also and look forward to delving into your successes on here and glean from your wisdom. Thanks again.

    Cindy

  • SJ Smith says:

    That’s really good information to know… though I hope to never need to make one. : )

  • Holly says:

    You can go to your local butcher and ask them for their scrap fat, you know the stuff they cut off before packaging. When you get home render it, think about the cold bottom of a bacon fry pan. Once it is rendered you can store it outside of the freezer for a long time. I have had venison tallow for almost a year sitting in my cupboard. I was told you can render it along with a raw potato to help absorb some of the ‘stinkiness’ from the fat. You can also use this to make bird seed cakes… And, if you have any scraps from the bottom of an old candle you can melt them and stir them into the tallow. It can add a bit of color, a touch of fragrance, and make it just a wee bit stiffer. This is were you can play with wick size, a smaller wick might burn even longer but if it is too small it will burn out too quickly. -IMHO

  • Great post Kendra!!! Since grease can go rancid over time (I’m thinking out loud here), perhaps making these up as you cook and then popping them in the freezer would keep them longer than if just left out until time to use them. It would be great to have some for an emergency!

    I think I may do a bit of research to see if a wick is even necessary. When my husband went to Israel years ago, he brought home a bit of antiquity – an oil lamp from the time of Christ. It is shaped a bit like a genie’s lamp without a lid, having two openings – one larger and one smaller. You are suppose to fill it with oil (remember the parable of the 10 virgins?) and then light it at the smaller end. However, I’m not sure if they inserted a wick in it or not. Either way, that design might be practical and it might help with a wick.

  • Sassy says:

    I follow Survival Mom and saw that post and wondered about it. So happy you tried it and posted it, how cool is that! Thank you

  • Julie says:

    WOW! This is so neat! I too save my grease drippings into glass jars and have many times looked at that jar wondering why it was so useless.

    Now I have a plan! Thank you so much for sharing this!

    Julie

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