How To Make 30 Hours Survival Candles with Soy Wax

Sarah Davis
By Sarah Davis March 24, 2017 14:49

How To Make 30 Hours Survival Candles with Soy Wax

Soy wax burns cleaner and a lot longer than most paraffin waxes. This is what makes it the best option for survival candles.

But an emergency soy wax candle can cost up to $20.

I made mine’s with only $1.67 / candle:

diy soy wax candle costs

It’s true that I was a little lucky getting a 50% discount for the glasses. But at the same time, after I bought them, I was thinking that I could have used any type of containers like mason jars or even used tin cans.

You can choose the burning length of your candles—the bigger the jar, the longer your survival candles will burn.

What You’ll Need:

  • Soy wax flakes: These are actually used by specialized companies to make candles because soy is affordable and a pound of wax can fill approximately a 24-ounce container, more or less. You can order them on Amazon for $12.99, or you can find them at your local craft stores.
  • Canning jars/normal glasses: You can either purchase or use the spare one you have at home. Personally, I used Ikea glasses because I had around a dozen extra. When I purchased them, I had a 50% discount, so I payed only $0.75 for one.
  • Wicks and tabs: You can find these on Amazon and in any local craft store. I wanted to test if I could make my own wicks, just like my grandma told me her mother used to do, so I made the wicks by rolling cotton-wool with my palms.

Related: How To Make Survival Lamps With Used Cooking Oil and Mason Jars

Step-by-Step Instructions:

#1. Have everything ready and in one place.

You’ll want to get your stuff ready because when the wax has melted, you’ll have to act pretty quickly. If you chose to use store-bought wicks and tabs, you can place them in your candles’ containers to be ready for when you’ll pour the melted wax.

oil lamp wickAs I said I didn’t pay for the wicks. I made them by rolling cotton-wool with my palms. After I reached the desired thinness, I soaked them in a bit of sunflower oil and knotted one end to act as the tab.

#2. It’s melting time!bain marine wax melting

If you have a double boiler, that’s perfect. But if you don’t own one, don’t worry—the traditional bain-marie cooking method comes to the rescue: Fill one large pot one-third full with water, and then nest a smaller pot inside (as I’ll show you later).
soy wax flakes

Now turn on the fire, bring your “double boiler” to a boil, and add the wax flakes.

melting soy wax flakesThis is how it looks when the flakes start to melt. You can either stir them with a spoon (I used a wooden spoon) to make the melting process go faster or you can just leave them to melt.melted soy wax flakes

And here it is completely melted (this is only half of the soy wax quantity). I didn’t know at first how much I’ll need.


  • If you want your candles to be scented, you can add essential oils. For 1 lb. of melted wax, use 1 oz. of your preferred essential oil or fragrance. Make sure you remove your pot from the heat when adding the oils, and stir well.
  • I recommend not adding any additional scents because you might risk getting a headache when there’s a power outage, disaster, or SHTF situation.

#3. Pour and affix!

Now that the wax flakes have melted, you can start pouring your melted wax into the containers. Make sure you leave at least a 1-inch space between the wax and the top of the container for lighting the candle.pour and affix

Since I used handmade wicks with no tabs, I removed them from the glasses before I started pouring the melted wax because they would go down with the wax stream. After you have filled up all of the containers, put the wicks back and affix them with aluminum foil to make sure they’re centered, just like I did.fix the wicksDon’t forget to fill the containers only ¾ of the way up. This way your survival candles will burn even during harsh conditions. For example if it’s windy, the gap will act as a shield.

#4. Cool down!

Now that you have finished everything, you just have to wait until your candles cool completely.
finished soy wax candles

Best advice: let them dry overnight at room temperature if you don’t want to see cracks in the candles finished

For a longer burning time, you can burn your candles for four hours at a time and then rotate. A single candle should last for around 10 days with regular use.burning soy wax candles

If you choose to buy the glasses together with the wicks and tabs, your cost per candle will be around $2.40.

You may also like:

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Sarah Davis
By Sarah Davis March 24, 2017 14:49
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  1. Joe March 24, 16:40

    Great idea. I would suggest not using glass, and if using glass use as thick as possible. This will survive a tumble better without shattering, and will create larger easier shards (chunks) to find in the dark so as not to cause possible puncture wounds or cuts. Alt. Place glass inside a cut-out (one side) tin can to direct light. Makes it easier for user to see if walking around. I’d also avoid scent, it may possibly attract (give your location) to any number of undesirable visitors and be nauseating in a confined space.

    Hope this helps!

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck March 24, 18:29

      I would second the idea of not using scent in a survival situation candle. If you have covered your windows to keep light from escaping to the outside, the whole effort is defeated by the scent of a candle wafting on the breeze.

      Reply to this comment
    • PUNISHER March 24, 21:49


      Reply to this comment
  2. BelovedLeah March 24, 17:46

    When my daughter passed, I received all her candle making supplies. She had a “cottage industry” in her home, so there was a lot! She bought all her “candle holders” at Goodwill, thrift store and garage sales. She bought decorative dessert cups, ramekins and anything that would make a candle holder and be decorative and able to hold a burning candle. I make candles from tuna cans, pet food cans, again using anything that will/can be used as a sturdy and safe burning candle holder. Just my thoughts.

    Reply to this comment
    • Old prepper March 25, 04:36

      Sorry for your lose. Kids are not supposed to ‘go’ before us. I was going to say, yes, save all those old glass bottles, or cans. I plan to start saving my fruit cans. I saved a few, to make brown bread in, when baking. They would work the same, and, not break if dropped. There is no need to buy anything, EXTRA ,in the way of containers. We have it all, at home.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Copper Top March 24, 19:13

    Everyone should be interested in ways to be prepared whether it is food preparations , ways to have light when the lights go out. Protection from weather and other situations.

    Reply to this comment
  4. CCTER March 24, 19:56

    I save my old food jars and lids (pickles, sauces, etc…). I will plan on using these. What essential oil would be the best to use if I am using these as emergency lighting or SHTF?

    Reply to this comment
    • Old prepper March 25, 04:40

      CCTER; I am afraid most of us do not understand your question. As, far as I know, essential oil, is that scented oil. Do you mean, regular oil, like corn, canola, Olive,sunflower seed oil? There is no oil used in these candles. ALL SOY WAX THAT IS MELTED. Others, correct me, if I am wrong.

      Reply to this comment
      • CCTER March 25, 17:32

        Yes, essential oils are scented, but they have different effects ( relaxation, focus etc…)

        Reply to this comment
        • Old prepper March 25, 20:14

          CCTR; LOL This is, why I loathe the written word sometimes. I was not asking about essential oils. They say, NOT TO USE THEM, IN THE CANDLES. I was trying to be gracious. Do not use essential oils if these are for SHTF. The question was.; WHAT ESSENTIAL OIL ,TO USE,,,, BY YOU..

          I use Lavender mixed with spring water for a spritz, on the sheets at night time. Great in the hot summer time. Then I use Eucalyptus for washing sheets to kill the mites and scent the sheets. Oregano oil for disinfectant. Clove oil for teeth problem There is no oil used, in making the WAX CANDLES. GOOD DAY. ☺ Please do not reply. This is like the parody, “Who’s on first, who’s on second.” ☺

          Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck March 26, 03:06

      Many food grade jars are not designed for the heat generated by open flame and will split after a while. Nothing like having hot wax spill over whatever the jar is sitting on. If you examine a glass votive candle holder, you will most likely notice that the glass is slightly thicker than a glass food jar. I would recommend caution in using glass food jars for making candle. Wine bottles used to be popular back in the late 60’s to make candle jars from. However, back then, wine bottles were a uniform thickness. I have noticed in most recent years, cheaper wine comes in thinner bottles. More expensive wines seem to uniformly come in thicker bottles (yes being a wino does have some educational benefits) albeit somewhat limited) which would better suit the purpose. There was a method for cutting wine bottles, and I made quite a few back when it was very popular, however, in the intervening 50 years, the exact process is lost way deep in my data banks and is not recallable. It may have even been written over.

      Reply to this comment
      • Old prepper March 27, 23:12

        Left Coast Chuck. You are very entertaining. We must be about the same age? And true about glass not being good to use. Cutting Wine bottles? I remember something about putting a string around the area you wanted to ‘cut’. THEN making the bottle hot, and immerse in COLD WATER. The shock, ‘cuts’ off the bottle. That is all I remember, and NOT guaranteed information, as my memory banks are full too!

        I tend to so crafts, and have saved all of my old WORK BASKETS. I am sure something in there about cutting glass. But, I am not that interested in doing that anymore. I plan to make some soy SHTF CANDLES. Since I am about your age, It takes me longer to do things, or get out.
        And I have saved some # 10 metal cans. I plan to put my candles in there, to stop any problems. I live in the WEST COAST. FIGURES.

        Reply to this comment
      • SJB April 28, 19:46

        We had a method we used to cut wine bottles which worked pretty well. We took thick sided wine bottles and filled them to the desired point (depending upon the size glass you wanted) with 30W motor oil. We would then set them outside in the cold for 20 to 30 minutes (North-Central Wisconsin gets plenty cold enough in the winter to make this work). We would then bring them inside and place a hot fireplace poker (a straight one) down the neck and the heated oil would fracture the bottle at the desired point. We then took some emery cloth to round the sharp edge which was left, and then washed them thoroughly two or three times to completely remove the oil (we used non-detergent oil)

        Note: As a precaution when using the poker, have the bottle in or on something which will contain the mess if the bottle does fracture (which WILL happen if the bottle and the oil are not chilled sufficiently). Furthermore, the poker needs to be hot, but not too hot, if it is too hot the oil will ignite (usually, it seems that we heated in the fire for 3 to 5 minutes, don’t recall for sure–if it doesn’t work on the first go, extend the chilling/heating time and do it again).

        The first few times you try this, do it outside on a non-flammable surface until you get the times for the chilling of the bottle and the heating of the poker worked out. As always, BE CAREFUL.

        Not recommending this, just recounting how we did it, and it DID work rather well.

        Reply to this comment
      • hillbilly December 28, 01:20

        left coast Chuck; the wine bottle cutter consisted of a rack to hold the bottle on it’s side, and a normal/ window pain, Glass cutter, that fit against the side of the bottle you were wanting to cut, ring any bells. lol

        Reply to this comment
  5. left coast chuck March 24, 20:49

    On the other hand, the local 99¢ store sells tall votive candles that are so popular to put by the roadside where someone has had a fatal collision. So you can get 3 tall votive candles for the price of one of the homemade ones plus save on utilities and time. While it might be wise to put away some soy wax for future use together with what the Brits call cotton wool for wicks, The question of time involved viz a viz cost of commercially produced is one each of us must answer for ourselves.

    Reply to this comment
    • Old prepper March 25, 04:30

      Those votive candles, do not last very long. I bought a few, and they melt very quickly. I WOULD RATHER make my own. Depends on how energetic one is. Then these candles, smoke a lot of black smoke. I tried them for Christmas. I did not like them. Plan to make some soy candles. ☺

      Reply to this comment
      • Dee January 13, 14:45

        I have also read that the very inexpensive candles use wick material that includes some metal that becomes airborne when burned and is toxic to breathe. Best to know the materials you are burning in confined spaces.

        Reply to this comment
  6. left coast chuck March 26, 03:10

    In fact, now that I talk about candles in wine bottles it seems to me I may have some in the garage overhead. I haven’t explored the far reaches of that dark and mysterious space in years. I don’t think Jimmy Hoffa is up there but it has been so long, one just cannot be sure.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Frankie March 26, 14:10

    Since almost all soy in the USA is GMO, I question the use of soy flakes for candles, as we end up breathing the vapors given off by the burn.

    Reply to this comment
    • Old prepper March 27, 22:55

      Frankie, yes, you are probably correct, but these candles are for SHTF,,it is about survival, in a very bad time. I would guess all kind of things by then, ARE BAD for us. The AIR.
      The other waxes are bad for us too. SOY, at least is LESS polluting and lasts longer. PARAFFIN wax is the worst. Lots of black smoke from that. So, hopefully, unless you live underground, THERE will be some fresh air coming in, from somewhere, or we are ALL DEAD, with no oxygen.☺

      Reply to this comment
  8. Lucy March 27, 04:35

    Interesting point, Frankie. What different fats has anyone out there experimented with to make candles out of? Beeswax, paraffin, soy — what else?

    Reply to this comment
  9. Surviving in Organicville March 27, 14:00

    I am always amazed. Yes, often “natural” things can be a better alternative but the immediate assumption that all things “GMO” are bad for you amuses me. There are a whole bunch of “natural” things that can hurt or kill you long before anything GMO will even have a chance to affect you.

    Reply to this comment
    • Frankie March 27, 14:23

      True. Arsenic is a naturally occurring substance, but it can kill you. However, if I stay away from it, it can’t hurt me at all. The same goes for GMO’s. Besides the GMO itself, the large amount of pesticides, especially Roundup, that is taken in by the soy plant is still in the oil. Roundup, as well as other chemicals have been proven to cause cancer as well as other sometimes fatal illnesses. Why would I want to breathe that stuff in?

      Reply to this comment
      • the Boyce of Reason December 7, 17:31

        This is absolutely hysterical to me. I would normally agree with you and I normally also try to eat organic, non GMO, etc. on a normal basis… But this whole article is about survival when society falls (or some other tragic disaster) and you’re worried about residual third hand RoundUp? Hahaha. You be “healthy” if you want… you’ll be begging us for cat/dog meat within a week of depleting your non-GMO reserves. Im not worried if the deer I shoot has had a diet of GMO soy beans.

        Reply to this comment
    • Old prepper March 27, 22:58

      I agree with you. People do not understand, this is for SHYT. By then, a lot of things will go wrong, and who knows, who will survive to ‘worry’ about cancer! IT is amusing to me too.

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck April 12, 02:31

        Yes, the message is not getting through. I see comments about the lining in metal cans. If you are reduced to eating what you have put away for an emergency, the last thing you are going to be worrying about is whether 20 years from now you will develop cancer from the plastic lining. What you are far more immediately concerned about is: this is my last can of food. What am I going to do for tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that? Cancer in 20 year? Ha! I am going to be lucky if I survive another two weeks. This can smells a little funky but it is the first substance I have found in two weeks that resembles food, so down the hatch and worry about the poops later on. Even folks who read this list just don’t get it. That amazes me. Worried about bisphenol in the can? Listen, Chumley, you are going to be so happy to have found that can of okra that you are going to down it like it was the finest meal from the French Laundry (a very well known haute cuisine restaurant in the San Francisco area wine country)

        Reply to this comment
    • old March 27, 23:00

      Surviving in organicville’ My comment was for you, but went under Frankie. Don’t know why.

      Reply to this comment
  10. Older prepper April 11, 23:51

    Well, I struck out! Dollar store I went to, did not have soy candle flakes, nor the cheap cotton mop. Then I checked in Walmart. Same thing. The mop was more like 7 dollars. I know Micheal’s will have all the things I need, but I was trying to do,this, cheaply. I have a bunch of tin cans cleaned out. Next is Michael’s and will do the math, if I want to do this. OIL will burn too. Just sad, as I really wanted to do this.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck April 12, 02:18

      I bought the mop head only, not the whole mop. I bought it at a chain called Smart & Final Iris. I think they are a strictly west coast chain, Utah, AZ, NV, CA. To the best of my knowledge, they started as a restaurant supply store but so many people who did not own restaurants were coming in to buy stuff they went into the grocery business. They carry a bunch of cleaning supplies not generally carried by your general grocery store like Safeway. You don’t need the whole mop, just look for the replacement head which is the ropey thing that goes on the end of the mop. Don’t think you will find them in Dollar General nor at Safeway.

      Reply to this comment
  11. left coast chuck April 12, 02:23

    Okay, I just went on line to and found two mop heads that would serve the purpose. Cotten head mop replacement head at $4.00 and Lightner cotton mop replacement head at $6.00. You want to buy a cotton mop replacement head, not polyester or nylon or some artificial fiber. Put cotton mop replacement head in the search box when you go to You will find them. Get them delivered to your local Wally World store and probably the shipping is free.

    Reply to this comment
  12. Teddy December 18, 06:34

    Yes, essential oil can be added to the wax for a candle. Try just a drop for a candle to be used now so you’re not enticing folks you don’t want in a bad situation. Be sure to use essential oils. There are many fragranced oils, which are Not the same. Yes, I have done this in making candles. I prefer beeswax, and bayberry wax if you can find it. They burn well and have a lovely light fragrance. The wick is what can cause black smoke. Cotton string can be used for wicking. A lot of wicking has like a wire in it and the wire releases lead smoke, from what I have read many times, so try to avoid that. Unless the can is being used as a cover for the glass receptacle, it will get very hot as the candle burns. Give candle making a try. It’s a lot of fun, and good for gifts. The comments about glass thickness are great reminders. Also, a glass cutter can be used to cut the bottles. The commercial glass candle holders usually have a thicker bottom, too. I love the idea of cutting a design in the tin can cover. Could also cut the cover to hold the candle In a sort of well, cut off most of the can, and bend part of the can into a handle – make sure all edges are well-sanded or finished off so the risk of getting a metal cut is minimized. Metal cuts hurt. Enjoy making candles and thanks for the inspiration! Have to go make some for Christmas presents!

    Reply to this comment
  13. Teddy December 18, 06:37

    Another thought. If you’re going to all the trouble to make candles, or anything, even if just for a disaster situation, why not make it as pretty as you can? You will feel happier when you look at it and use it. We need all the happy we can get in those situations.

    Reply to this comment
  14. MyBiZZ March 18, 18:57

    This is a great lesson. But I have a couple of questions.
    1.It says 30 hours survival candles. So I assumed each candle burns for two hours because you bought 15 cups. But at the end it says you burn them 4 hours at a time and rotate and last ten days average use. That equals 40 hours. So does each burn 30-40 hours? I’m confused about that.2. How many ounces are the cups and 3. What is cotton wool. It looks like a cotton ball. Are cotton balls and cotton wool one in the same?

    Reply to this comment
  15. Ben May 22, 05:57

    take your tuna can and fill it with a bunch of rolled up cardboard cut to just the height of the can. Cut and roll up the cardboard so the cells are up. Fill the can up with the cardboard roll. Slowly fill with wax and stick a piece of candle wick into the center. This is what is know as a ‘buddy burner” and when light will burn for about 2 to 3 hours and can be used to cook food over. Regulate the size of the flame with a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil folded several layers thick.

    Reply to this comment
  16. Cat whiskers October 17, 09:54

    Was wondering will it go further to add some of the cheaper candle wax to the soy wax? Example left overs from a already used candle, crayon, basically any type of already made candles that most people would trash. Is it safe to mix the different types together? I do understand that the ones with the scented oils would be something you only would want more like a gift or use now kind. But I wanted to make sure that mixing can’t be a fire hazard ( lol I know here we are talking about a fire element but you know) or for by mixing two different kinds the candle won’t work as well. Also using glass salt and pepper shakers that have the glass handle on the side makes nice ones as well. I’ve even made some in a old cup cake pan. Now the candle sits on a glass plate or something that won’t be hazardous and I have the cup cake pan for another round.

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