Camping With Candles
Candles seem to be an undervalued item to the average bushwhacker - it's one of those items I read off in a lot of bugout lists but never actually see in a lot of bugout bags, and even when the power goes out in most peoples' houses it's flashlights and not wax sticks they pull out. Honestly, until a few years ago I had never even heard it mentioned as being useful for anything but drying kindling and considered it a waste of space. Then, after watching some old fart on Youtube cook a whole meal on one, I decided to start keeping a 24hr beeswax fatty in my firestarter kit just in case it was ever impossible (or inconvenient) to get a flame lit.
Well guess what? Candles are a little more than just light in the dark and a dryer for your bird's nest. The average candle also puts off about 80w of heat (compared to around 100w for the average resting adult). That means two dozen candles is a space heater when, say, a massize freeze puts your entire state out of power for a week straight. Bigger is better for burn time, and beeswax puts off the most heat apparently, so a hypothetical box of 300 or so day-long decent candles could warm a cold room of family member for two weeks without power... a healthy amount of smoke inhalation notwithstanding.
A similar-working old trick for surviving out in the extreme cold was to cover yourself in a wool blanket and light a candle inside, basically putting the heat of another human inside to help warm the bundle. Putting the candle inside a small lantern can help lessen the chance of burning things, so even if bought specifically for this purpose one could now leave the electric lantern at home. And, as mentioned above, a single candle can eventually boil the water you need for hydration and even heat food in a bind.
Then there's the wax itself - a useful and less than convenient substance to procure naturally. It can waterproof paper, lubricate hinges, screws, and zippers, protect fraying ropes and laces, fill gaps in wood handles and housing, or just be remixed with flammable materials for homemade firestarter. Genuinely, I think we need to take another look at candles in soite of all our modern gadgetry. I'm already looking for that little lantern; can't wait to keep light like the woodsmen of old.
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