For short-term power outages, there are a number of different inexpensive emergency lighting products you can store and use. This article reviews three options: chemical SnapLights (white vs. green), the 6″ Sterno emergency candle, and Emergency Essentials’ liquid paraffin candle.
In terms of cost, the SnapLights were 10 for about $10. The Sterno candle was $6, and the liquid paraffin candle was $8. These are all inexpensive lighting options. However, the amount of lighting time that you get per dollar varies. At 8 hours each, times 10 units, the SnapLights give you 8 hours of lighting per dollar. The 55-hour Sterno candle does a little better at just over 9 hours per dollar. But the best bang for your buck is the 100-hour liquid paraffin candle at 12.5 hours per dollar.
For efficient use of storage space, all of these options are compact and store easily. The liquid paraffin candle was perhaps the most compact. But you must be more careful when storing this item, since it contains a flammable liquid. The plastic container could conceivably break open, if something heavy fell on it. By comparison, the Sterno candle and the snap lights are much safer to store, and only a little less compact.
Safety in use is a different question than safety in storage. The SnapLights are the safest, since the chemicals are (said by the manufacturer to be) non-toxic and non-flammable. I would trust a responsible child with one of these lights, as a nightlight if the power is out. You should never leave an open flame with an unattended child. So if you have kids, the SnapLights jump to the top of your emergency lighting shopping list. One SnapLight per child per night without power is a good idea.
For my own uses, I consider the liquid paraffin candle to be relatively safe, for adult use. I am cautioned, however, by the fact that its container is plastic, not glass or metal. The Sterno candle seems significantly safer to me. It is an open flame, but a solid candle is not going to spill and catch fire.
Which product gives you the brightest light? Not the SnapLights. I like SnapLights for emergencies because I can snap one and toss it in the bathroom, and another in a hallway, so I can move about the house without bumping into everything. But they are not very bright, and the brightness declines over their 8 to 10 hour useful lifespan. I purchased the white light SnapLights, thinking I would get a more natural light. Small mistake. Compared to a green SnapLight I had on hand, the green was much brighter at all times, and it lasted longer towards the end. The green ones are also a little cheaper than the white ones.
Comparing the three sources of light, the next brightest was the Sterno candle and the least bright was the liquid paraffin. However, the difference in lighting was probably due to the length of the wick. The liquid paraffin candle has a short wick. If you make your own, you can use more wick and get more light, but a shorter burn-time.
The Sterno candle comes without any container or holder. I think that you are better off putting it inside of some type of glass or metal container, to catch the wax as it melts. The burn-time of 55-hours is the manufacturer’s claim; your mileage may vary.
The liquid paraffin candle was easy to light. As I said, the container is plastic, but it has a metal top around the flame. That metal top quickly becomes too hot to touch. And I remain skeptical about the prudence of using plastic, rather than glass for the rest of the liquid paraffin container. So if I was going to choose a liquid paraffin candle, I would seriously consider making my own. Salt ‘N Prepper has a good tutorial on how to make a liquid paraffin candle. You can get the liquid paraffin at Amazon.com.
Michael’s arts and crafts store has an online tutorial on making your own solid candles. But I would be more inclined to make this Mother Earth News olive oil lamp. Olive oil is a safer liquid to use for lighting than most other options, since it will not catch fire if spilled. You can buy a cheap type of NON-EDIBLE olive oil called Lampante oil, which is olive oil from bad fruit or careless processing. You can also use edible olive oil in a pinch.
I’ll leave the topic of flashlights and other electrical emergency lighting for later posts.
All products reviewed at Prep-Blog.com were purchased by us, not donated and not given by any company in order to obtain a review. We receive no remuneration for writing about any products. Our reviews are merely our own opinions; your opinions may vary. Also, note that any prices mentioned anywhere on Prep-Blog are subject to change. I would expect that if some disaster strikes, and prepping products are in high demand, prices might increase suddenly and sharply.