One of the most terrifying parts of living through a disaster is watching the sun go down and knowing lights aren’t coming on. There’s a reason humans fear the dark, anything can happen when the lights are out and we can’t see. One of the best and most cost-effective ways to prepare for this is with emergency candles. To help with this, we’ve checked out some of the best emergency candles on the market to help you find the ones perfect for your location and likely disaster scenarios.
- 1 Best Emergency Candles
- 1.1 Candlelife Emergency Survival Candle
- 1.2 Coghlan’s 36-Hour Survival Candle
- 1.3 Emergency Essentials Survival Candle Clear Mist
- 1.4 Emergency Preparedness 120 Hour Survival Candle
- 1.5 ER Emergency Ready Candles
- 1.6 Black Marlin Long Burning Emergency Unscented Wax Candle
- 1.7 Firefly Refillable Liquid Emergency Candles
- 1.8 Sterno Emergency Candle
- 1.9 Luminessence Emergency Candles – Slow Burning Storm Disaster Survival Candles
- 1.10 Sterno Liquid Wax Candles
- 2 Buyers Guide for the Best Emergency Candles
- 3 Emergency Survival Candles Pros and Cons
- 4 Final Thoughts
Best Emergency Candles
In a disaster or other emergency situation power is often one of the first things that is lost. Having safe and effective emergency candles gives you a practical source of light. This is honestly outweighed by the psychological comfort that comes from having light in the darkness.
They’re clean burning, designed to be indoor and outdoor safe, and produce a surprising amount of light for a long time. All of this for an average cost well under $10 each.
Candlelife Emergency Survival Candle
The Candlelife Emergency Survival Candle is a liquid paraffin candle that provides 115+ hours of bright white light. It has a glass reservoir, wick, and a plastic diffuser and windguard.
The design of the Candlelife is very similar to other survival candles on this list. The reservoir is clear to let you quickly see how much fuel is left. The liquid paraffin fuel burns cleanly and without producing any unpleasant odors.
The included windguard and light diffuser works to provide a softer light than a bare flame and protects it from going out with a sudden breeze. The Candlelife is suitable for indoor or outdoor use and is overall an excellent product.
Coghlan’s 36-Hour Survival Candle
Coghlan’s has been making quality outdoor equipment and supplies for 50 years. Their 36-hour survival candle is a lightweight and highly portable candle with 3 wicks. It’s made from a blend of soy and paraffin wax for the best burn characteristics.
You can choose to prioritize burn time or light production. With a single wick lit the candle will burn for about 36 hours continuously. If you need more light you can light additional wicks for up to about 12 hours of burn time.
The Coghlan’s 36-Hour survival candle is a quality product that won’t let you down when it counts. It doesn’t have the same burn time or light production of some other candles on this list but it’s robust, packable, and won’t spill.
Emergency Essentials Survival Candle Clear Mist
Emergency Essentials is a giant in the preparedness community with a massive catalog of high-quality products. Their survival candle uses a liquid paraffin design to provide 115+ hours of clean white light.
They have a three part design. The base of the candle is a glass reservoir that contains liquid paraffin fuel. It comes with a plastic wick cover that prevents leaks during transport and storage. It also includes a clear plastic dome that helps diffuse the light more effectively and protect the wick from drafts.
Liquid paraffin burns without producing smoke or any odor. It’s suitable for use indoors and gives a very even flame. The Emergency Essentials Survival Candle is an excellent emergency candle that’s cost effective and provides over 115 hours of clean, odorless white light.
Emergency Preparedness 120 Hour Survival Candle
The Emergency Preparedness 120 Hour candle is a large jar type candle that gives you up to 120 hours of burn time. The large glass jar is designed to help prevent fire risk if the candle should get knocked over.
These candles are quite large, just over 8 inches tall and fully 2 ⅜ inches in diameter. The clear glass helps to diffuse the candlelight and produce a nice white light.
The Emergency Preparedness 120 hour survival candle is a quality product but is priced a good bit higher than many similar products.
ER Emergency Ready Candles
The ER Emergency Ready Candle comes in a pack containing 5 small candles. Each is designed to burn for up to 5 hours and gives you significant flexibility in how you use them.
They come in a cardboard box and are made from paraffin wax for a clean and odorless flame. The wicks used are self trimming but come from the factory a bit long. They produce a large and bright flame but burn quickly.
The ER candles are great for taking on a hiking trip or to keep in an emergency kit. You’ll need a candle stand or other stable platform to put them in before burning for safety. Overall these are excellent emergency candles that are small enough to go just about anywhere.
Black Marlin Long Burning Emergency Unscented Wax Candle
The Black Marlin Emergency Candle is a large glass jar style candle that can burn for up to 7 days. They’re made using paraffin wax in a clear glass jar with a large label on the front.
They light easily (although you should still buy a good windproof lighter) and burn cleanly, without producing any odor or other residue. One thing we noticed was that the Black Marlin label reduced the light produced from the candle. Once we pulled it off it gave off a lot more light.
We didn’t get a chance to let it burn for the full seven days but the time we had it burning only reduced the wax by a few inches over many hours. We found the Black Marlin Emergency Candles to be inexpensive, well made, and to provide significant clean white light.
Firefly Refillable Liquid Emergency Candles
If you’re looking to prepare for the long term or trying to reduce your carbon footprint these Firefly Refillable Emergency Candles may be the ones for you. They’re 2 or 5 oz glass cylinders with a long wick and a removable metal cap.
They don’t come with fuel but will accept liquid lamp oil such as liquid paraffin wax. They burn for about 10-15 hours on a full reservoir with the wick set to a low flame. If you buy lamp oil in bulk this can give you effectively limitless emergency lighting.
We really like the refillable design. To top off the oil just remove the wick and metal cap after letting it cool for at least an hour. Use a small funnel to fill the lamp up to about half an inch of the top.
If you’re looking for a long term source of emergency or old school lamplight without something like a lantern or flashlight the Firefly refillable emergency candle is an excellent option.
Sterno Emergency Candle
Sterno is well known for their chafing dish and other culinary products. The Sterno emergency candle is a solid paraffin wax candle designed to burn for up to 55 hours.
It forgoes the glass jar or cylinder of many other emergency candles and comes to you wrapped in plastic. Once lit it provides a clean burning and totally odorless flame. It’s 2.8 inches in diameter, giving you a very stable base wherever you set it.
If you prefer a candle that leaves nothing behind but a little wick debris the Sterno emergency candle should be on your list.
Luminessence Emergency Candles – Slow Burning Storm Disaster Survival Candles
The Luminessence Emergency Candles provide you with 7 emergency candles that burn up to 4-6 hours each at a very reasonable price. They use a knitted square wick design with a fairly long initial wick.
If you burn them straight out of the box you get significant light production but a lower burn time. By trimming the wick by a centimeter or so you can extend the burn time. These are made using clean burning paraffin wax and provide a good balance of heat and light.
Their small size, just under 4 inches tall, make them perfect to pack in a hiking bag or store in your home. If you’re looking for smaller candles that still provide significant light these are a great option.
Sterno Liquid Wax Candles
The Sterno Liquid Wax Candles are fueled with liquid paraffin wax for up to 100 hours of clean white light. They’re designed with a glass reservoir and plastic cap to provide maximum brightness.
The light diffuser on top doubles as an effective windguard for outdoor use. These aren’t refillable but they do burn for a very long time without producing any odor or smoke.
They leave no wax residue or other debris behind and are wide enough to be very stable while burning. All in all a quality product from a well known candle and cooking burner manufacturer.
Buyers Guide for the Best Emergency Candles
Emergency candles are incredibly simple by their very nature. There are really just a few things you should consider before making your purchasing decision.
Burn time is one of the most important factors when comparing emergency candles. Most purpose build products will burn for upwards of 100 hours. You can also go the other direction and buy packs of smaller candles rated for 5-20 hours.
The larger candles give you much more burn time but provide significantly less light. The smaller candles can be burned either singly or all at once. This gives you a good bit of flexibility with your lighting needs.
The general low cost of both allows you to mix and match as needed to ensure you’ll always have light.
An often overlooked aspect of candles is the type of wick they use. While not as important as wax type the wick plays a major role in the amount of light a candle produces as well as how quickly it will burn down.
Flat Wicks – By far the most common type of candle wick, flat wicks are either plaited or knitted to have a slender yet flat profile. The way they’re designed causes the wick to curl in on itself while it burns. A benefit of this is that you don’t have to trim the wick to control the burn.
Square Wicks – Square wicks are very similar to flat wicks but use more material. This makes them a bit more robust and durable. They’re commonly used in beeswax and scented candle applications because the larger design helps prevent wick clogging.
Cored Wicks – Cored wicks are designed with a knitted wick surrounding a rigid or semi-rigid core. This gives them a much stiffer characteristic as they burn and produces a very even upright flame. Materials commonly used in cored wicks include:
They’re commonly used in pillar, jar, and votive style candles. You’ll also find them in many emergency candles.
Specialty Wicks – Specialty wicks is a large category of wick styles for very specific needs. For emergency candles this mostly covers things like liquid paraffin, kerosene or other liquid fuel wicks.
These are designed to draw and burn a variety of lamp oil to produce light without burning the wick itself. For that purpose they need to be larger and more absorbent than traditional wicks.
There are many natural and artificial candle waxes commonly used today. The most common are paraffin wax, beeswax, soy wax, palm wax, and gel or synthetic waxes. Of these paraffin wax has long since supplanted beeswax as the most prolifically used.
Most survival candles will be made of paraffin wax. It burns very cleanly, is the most cost effective, and produces no messy residue or leftover wax. Beeswax is the longest burning type of candle wax but is significantly more expensive than paraffin.
A few candle makers like to mix paraffin with other wax materials to provide a brighter light or longer burn time.
One of the biggest downsides of using emergency candles is the risk of an accidental fire. When looking at these kinds of candles try to find ones with the broadest base possible.
More traditional pillar style candles look nice, but they’re easy to tip over. Large candles or candles built into a large base are much more stable and less likely to tip if bumped.
Make sure you also consider the seal on liquid wax candles. The best are designed to go out if tipped or knocked over. The most important consideration is that they don’t spill highly flammable wax everywhere and ignite it.
While you can go for large scented candles as emergency candles we don’t recommend it. This is for several reasons:
Emergency candles are primarily designed to provide light. Most are set up to maximize their brightness throughout the length of their burn time. Scented candles often sink down into a colored glass or other solid enclosure. This limits their brightness.
Probably the biggest issue is the scent itself. Do you really want to burn 5-10 Grandma’s Apple Pie™ candles all at once? The smell gets overpowering fast.
Emergency Survival Candles Pros and Cons
Emergency candles are a good item to have around during a minor or major emergency. Like anything though, there are pros and cons to using them over other portable or emergency light sources.
- Some wax types are reusable
- Don’t rely on batteries, electrical power, or any other outside source
- Can be used to produce heat in an emergency
- Fully functional even after an EMP event
- Can’t be used if you suspect any kind of gas leak
- Potential fire hazard
- Don’t produce a ton of light individually
- Can blow out in the wind
Light in the darkness is essential for your family’s well being in a disaster. Emergency candles provide just about the cheapest and most comforting source of light available.
They’re easy to store, very cheap, and require no power or other upkeep.
By following our buying guide and thinking about your own situation it’s easy to pick out the best emergency candles to keep your family safe and comfortable.