Bacon Grease Candle
My wife likes bacon. Actually, she loves it so much she practically lives off of the stuff. I have been trying to get her to eat other healthier things now and then as well as wondering what to do with the leftover bacon grease.
I could make bacon lye soap or power a small vehicle with the stuff but that would be too much of a pain in the ass. We do keep it fresh to start another batch of bacon with, grease pans or add it to recipes like biscuits (w\ bacon fat ) & sausage gravy but after she does a breakfast get together, she cooks a pile of bacon for her coworkers and leaves behind a considerable amount of bacon grease (fat) also known as tallow.
I love the outdoors and intend to hunt wild hogs once we move to North Carolina next year and will be sure to have even more tallow reserves after the harvests.
What to do with the stuff? Why not make bacon candles and tiki torch fuel. Kinda of geeky pioneer-like but something to try none-the-less and super easy.
1) The Wick
Use only either store bought candle wicks or cotton string, t-shirt scraps or whatever else you have laying around that is 100% cotton.
There are 2 ways to bind the cotton strips to make the wick, braiding works just as well as cordage and both are good practice for survival rope making on a small scale.
NOTE: There are “recipes” for borax cotton wicks and wax wicks online as well. I don’t think you have to go through all that to make a good wick.
To make the wick all you need to do is cut three (3) 1\4″ strips of your favorite old t-shirt that the wife wants you to throw away. Make the strips longer than the container that you intend to use for the candle. Braid 3 strips together the entire length of the wick leaving some coiled in the bottom of your candle to allow for wick adjustment if you add more bacon tallow to the candle.
Cut two (2) 1\4″ strips of T shirt as above for the wick but follow this simple guide on how to make cord by rolling one piece in your fingers while wrapping the other over it (somewhat like braiding). This process will yield a thinner wick (which will make a smaller flame and burn less oil. Cord the wick together the entire length leaving some coiled in the bottom to allow for wick adjustment if you add more bacon tallow to the candle.
The thickness of cotton strip you start with can also determine the wick diameter. Naturally, you can experiment to find what works best for you.
Directions: Tie a knot at the base of the wick then place the wick in the vessel that you intend to use for the candle. You can either wrap the top of the wick around a pencil, spoon, chopstick or anything that you can lay across the mouth of the vessel or if you have a really long wick that you intend to use for other candles before cutting it to length, just drape it over the side of a SMALL mouth vessel. Large mouth containers don’t work as well with this method because the wick ends up laying sideways or drifts over to the edge of the opening instead of the middle of the candle when the tallow solidifies.
2) The Candle
NOTE: You can leave the bacon bits in the candle if you want but it may not last as long (or leave it in the fridge) becoming rancid because of the pieces in the fat that will sour (grow bacteria faster) or sift it out with a coffee filter, an old t-shirt or a screen. These “filters” decrease, in respective order, the purity of the tallow but increase in ease of filtering. I used a cooking screen colander.
Pour the liquified grease into the vessel leaving some space at the top.
Let it cool to (air conditioned) room temperature or place it in the fridge \ freezer until it solidifies.
Trim the wick about 1\4″ above the bacon grease.
Light that sucker and sit back and behold your simple, rustic and green light source.
Tiki torches are really simple (the way I did it):
I cheat and used some of the Tiki fluid but rubbing alcohol or even diesel \ kerosene should work as well.
The reason I added some of the Tiki fluid is that it keeps the oil from congealing (phase change) at lower temps. You don’t want your Tiki torch wick burning up because the tallow \ fat can’t leech up the wick (capillary action) because it has turned into a candle and also to preserve the fat for longer periods of time outdoors where it might go sour and begin to wreak.
I mixed 50% Tiki Fluid with bacon tallow (by volume) and put it into the Tiki Torch for the fall days and cooler nights this time of year. You can go 1\3 to 1\4 during the summer months in most climates. I live in Pennsylvania so it takes a little more to keep the fuel in liquid form.
NOTE: Remember that modern bacon (yeah there is a difference) has additives that enable the bacon to absorb up to 25% water to increase weight to rip you off. Most of it evaporates in the skillet (leaving behind that white gooey stuff you sometimes see in chicken and pork). The added fuel also helps by increasing the flash point of the fuel. Locally purchased bacon most likely wouldn’t have this water added and so could require less Tiki fuel.
Mix it up, shake and let it rip with a light of a match and you are burning bacon!