Hamburger Candle

Hamburger Grease Candle

Last week when I did the article on the DIY oil lamp a commenter asked it you could do it with something like veg oil. Maybe but I do keep veg oil around. I do have some fat from cooking some hamburgers. Will it burn? I’ve been burning it on and off the past few days so it absolutely can be burned. Let me show you how and some improvements that can be made.

Hamburger Candle
Hamburger Candle

Face Burn
Face Burn

Get some fat

Last week I was frying up some ground beef for a soup and decided to keep some of the fat. I bought the 80/20 stuff so I had plenty of extra grease. To use the fat I followed a process called washing the fat. There are very precise and technical versions to use when making soap.  I terrible at following directions and thus never need to try to make soap again. Last time I ended up with a pot full of boiling fat exploding in my face. The version I did for my candle is safe so no worries about ending up like the phantom of the opera. I warmed up the fat till fully melted (not boiling). Poured into a mason jar then filled the rest of the jar with cold water. I placed this in the fridge overnight. You should put it in upside down so the fat is in the bottom when right side up. You can follow this process several times for a “cleaner” fat. I did it once then re-heated the fat and poured through a cheese cloth straining out any leftover junk. Now you have a clean fat and safe face.

Get a container

For my candle container I used an empty metal almond can. I keep then around to do experiments and to hold bits and bobs. I have been meaning to make an alcohol stove from one. Instead I made a hamburger candle.

Wick that candle

For my first wick I used some left over cisal rope. I coated it in the fat and coiled it down into it when the fat was still liquid. Then I put into the fridge to set. The cisal rope was a terrible wick. I does not want to light or stay light. It worked just not very well and I decided to try a cloth wick. I cut another piece of the shirt I used for the oil lamp. I’ve been burning the cotton wick for the past thirty minutes. The wick went out when it burned down to the oil finally. Still plenty of oil left to keep burning though. I need to find a way to keep the wick up out the oil. As a temporary fix I draped the wick on the edge of the can which makes a big flame. Also this candle burns sooty. Very sooty at times. Unless you hover right over it though there is not smell. Which I was kinda worried about. So no my apartment does not smell like gross meat smell. If worried add some scented oil though.

Next time you go to toss out your grease can think about washing it and making an emergency candle. Once again your using trash to make it and free is my favorite cost. You could put a lot of time into this project and make real and fancy candles. I not though this took a few minutes and junk I already had. It fits into my least amount of work most amount of payoff rule.

Think this is a great idea? Think I’m crazy? Have any improvements or upgrades? Let me know in the comments!


Today’s article brought to you by TrekLight Gear.  Looking to get a lightweight hammock and get off the ground? Check out TrekLight hammocks.

DIY Lamp from trash



5 thoughts to “Hamburger Grease Candle”

  1. I think you can also put your wick through a piece of wood which sits on a piece of styrofoam then floats on top of whatever you’re burning. Have you ever tried the shortening candle? I haven’t because I bake a lot so I don’t have an extra can of shortening laying around but supposedly you can put a wick in there and burn it like a candle. Did I read that on your site?
    I like your idea. Do you think the fat goes bad after awhile? I save bacon fat sometimes but I always thought I might cook with it.

  2. One related thing if you take a small metal tube and blow air sideways through the flame it will make a very hot blue spike of flame. I used to use a tube about 1/16″ with a candle or lighter flame. Also I saw a film where some jewelry maker in india was melting gold using an oil lamp and a mabey 1/8″ tube.

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