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!
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.
16 thoughts on “How To Make A Candle From Leftover Grease”
thanks for the low down on the candles.
so the good and the bad, but we will leave out the ugly.
tallow can be tricky especially with a flimsy wick, I use cotton that I twist into cordage then secure it to the bottom of the container I’m using with electrical tape. also if you heat the grease drippings and pour them into a container of hot water it helps to clean it and makes it easier to get all the nasties off too.
once you have this cleaned solid chunk of tallow you can reheat it and pour it into a new container with your wick in it and let it cool on its own or (like I do) impatiently put it in the freezer. you can also add scented oils to your candle to make it smell good. despite what many may think the candle does not put off the alluring scent of freshly cooked mean or food. it actually doesn’t have much of a smell at all without additives. also there are many MANY uses for tallow, some of which are, soaps, cooking, (candles obviously) tanning, knife grease, shoe polish, and much much more. the important thing is to make sure your tallow is clean and firm before use and make sure to use a sturdy wick or spend money (I don’t) and buy wicks from a craft store.
also tallow takes a very veRY VERY long time to go rancid. it will actually keep at room temperature for many months, refrigerated it will keep for years! (great stuff) and with all of its uses the only think I can really insist on is DONT THROW IT OUT.
unfortunately you CAN NOT use it in an oil lamp, however if you happen to use vegitable oil you can use that instead. I will also suggesting checking out juijitsu200 on youtube. he does a great break down of how to make soaps and candles. simple and clear with minimal supplies.
thanks and have fun
Chris, thank you very much for the info on cooking grease to make candles. i make my own pork lard and still have some from 5 yrs ago,freezing it makes it a very long time. so i have some testing to do. thanks again. nena
Don’t think adding it to a oil lamp will work. A oil lamp use’s a liquid. In order for grease or lard to burn requires it to get warm enough to climb up the wick or for the flame to make contact with the oil. A lamp prevents it from heating up. Now a good ideal might be making a floating wick.
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
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!
I wonder if sterno like canisters can be made..good experiment! I love science 🙂
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!
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!
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.
That’s really good information to know… though I hope to never need to make one. : )
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.
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
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!