How Do You Make A Camping Candle?

A woman making a camping candle.

Candles are an important part of camping equipment. They offer a bit of warmth and are a great source of light too. Candles can even lift your spirits when it’s cold and dark. So, how do you make a camping candle? With our DIY guide, it’s a piece of cake.

There are different ways how you can go about making a camping candle. To do this the easiest way, you will simply need an empty metal mint container, some candle wax, two candle wicks, and optionally some glue and a box of matches. You will also need some source of heat since you will have to melt the candles.

For more DIY pieces of advice related to camping, check out our blog and learn how to make a DIY canvas tent easily. You can also read our step-by-step guide on how to make a bushcraft knife.

Table of Contents

How do you make a camping candle? – a simple guide

Making a lightweight, portable camping candle is easier than you think. Follow the next four simple steps to make your own camping candle.

Step #1 Empty and clean out a metal mint container

It goes without saying that you should empty all of the mints from the container. Use the water to clean out the dusty mint residue. After you’ve washed it, let it dry well and wipe it clean.

Step #2 Melt the candles

The next step is to simply melt the candle wax. You can use a small saucepan to do this. If you have needle-nose pliers, they will come in handy when you carefully remove the candle wicks from the candle wax.

Step #3 Fill the container with the melted wax

First, place the two candle wicks in the metal container facing up. If you want to secure them better, you can even super glue the wicks. Next, cautiously fill the container with the melted wax. Finally, let the melted wax cool and harden, for safety and to avoid spilling wax.

Step #4 Add the matches and igniters

You can pack and use your portable camping candle after the third step. However, another great option is to add the matches and igniters to your metal container, for your convenience.

Simply take the packet of matches, cut the opening flap and super glue the matches inside the lid of the metal container. Next, cut off the igniters from the packet of matches and super glue them on the lid, next to the matches. This is a great camping hack!

How to make citronella camping candles?

If you have some candle wax left over, you can buy citronella oil that can be used for candle making. If you are not too keen on the smell of citronella, you can add other essential oils such as mint, lemongrass, rosemary, or lavender. Citronella candles often burn around campsites and in many backyards due to the common belief that they are effective mosquito repellent.

While they do repel mosquitoes to a certain degree, citronella candles are not nearly as effective as DEET, which some experts believe to be the most effective repellent. Read our blog to find plenty of useful tips on how to prevent mosquito bites, as well as which bugs you should worry about when camping. And now back to making citronella candles. Here are some things that you will need to make citronella camping candles:

  • Wax – you can use leftover candle wax from your old candles or even purchase soy candle wax from Amazon.
  • Citronella essential oil – you can of course add the different essential oils we mentioned earlier.
  • Containers – it is a good idea to use leftover food cans as your candle containers.
  • Slow cooker – if you have a slow cooker, you can use it for melting the wax, as it won’t get too hot.
  • Candle wicks – if your wicks are too tall, you may also need scissors for trimming.

Step #1 Prep your workspace

You should know that making citronella camping candles can get messy. That is why you are well-advised to cover your workspace by laying down some newspaper or something similar. You should also lay out all of your empty food cans so they are ready to be used as containers. Next, place your wicks inside each container. If you can’t hold your wick in place at the bottom of your container, you can use super glue or tape.

Step #2 Melt the wax

If you have access to a slow cooker or a crock pot, they are ideal for melting the wax, as they won’t get too hot in the process. However, as long as you manage to melt the wax, it doesn’t really matter how you do it. Just keep in mind that it can be a messy process.

Step #3 Add the oils to the melted wax

Wait until all of the wax has melted completely before you add the oils. The recommendations on the bottle will tell you how much oil you should use. Once you add the oil, stir the mixture of oil and wax well.

Step #4 Pour the wax mixture into containers

To avoid mess, you can use an old measuring cup to pour the wax mixture into containers. If you are worried about cracks, try to add wax in layers. You can add an inch of wax at a time. Wait for each layer of wax to solidify before you add a new layer until the container is full.

Step #5 Add the candle wicks

If you feel that your wicks are too tall, you can use scissors to trim them. The wicks shouldn’t be too long, but don’t cut them too short either. You should leave a ¼ or ½ of an inch exposed. Your citronella camping candles are ready for use as soon as they are cooled. Finally, you can even decorate them a bit with some ribbon and twine scraps.

A candle on the table in a camper van.

How to make a candle lantern?

There are many ways how you can make a candle lantern. The one that we will outline here is the simplest and the most suitable one for camping. In our blog, you can also learn how to make a camping stool for your next camping trip, so check it out! To make a candle lantern for camping, you will simply need these three things:

  1. Milk jug with a screw cap – you can use a half-gallon or a gallon size milk jug.
  2. A sharp knife – the knife should be sharp enough to cut through the plastic.
  3. A candle – you can use a survival candle or any candle really.

Step #1 Put the candle through the cap

Take the lid off the milk jug. It’s best if you have a screw-top type of lid. Mark an ”x” in the center of the cap, take your knife, and cut that ”x” in the cap. Your candle will go through the hole that you made in the cap.

Step #2 Cut the bottom out of the milk jug

Draw a dotted line at the bottom of your milk jug so it’s easier to cut the bottom out. Your candle should already be in the lid. Simply screw the lid back on the milk jug and voilà, there you have your candle lantern.

One candle lantern won’t throw enough light to do any major work around your camp, but you can always make more. If you were wondering why campers put lights on the ground, you can find the answer in our blog.

Can I have a candle in a tent?

Candles are a fire hazard, especially inside a tent and in other highly flammable surroundings. If you bump the candle accidentally, it can put a hole in your tent, and damage your sleeping bag or other pieces of equipment. Burning a candle also emits small levels of carbon monoxide, so you also have to ventilate the tent properly. However, if you do decide to use a candle in a tent, make sure that you take the following safety precautions:

  • Use candle lanterns where candles are inside sturdy holders, and always place them on a stable surface.
  • Keep children and pets away from the candles at all times.
  • Never leave candles burning unattended.
  • Put out the candles before you go to sleep or leave the tent.

How to heat a tent with a candle?

Candles can produce a bit of heat. How much heat they produce depends on the type and the size of the candle that you are burning, as well as some other factors. To ensure that the candle warms your tent, you should lay out a blanket, a rug, or some other insulation layer at the bottom of your tent.

Always set up your candle somewhere that is not flammable. You can place a candle on a metal tray or a small fold-up table. Your candle lantern can be hung in the middle of your tent.

In conclusion

Candles are often a very overlooked piece of camping gear. When you are resourceful enough and with the help of our article, you can make both DIY candles and candle lanterns. You can use them to set a mood, or more practically for light, as they give a nice glow. You can even use them to light the fire or heat your ten, but always exercise caution when it comes to candles. If you would like to learn more about candles, make sure to also check out the National Candle Association.

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