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 an 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!