Crayons As Makeshift Candles

"In an emergency, a crayon will burn for 30 minutes." 

Ok. I'm trying to get through this post without laughing. For some reason this image alone makes me laugh every single time I look at it. I also thought I would try something different and do a video post for this bad idea. Because honestly, this is a REALLY bad idea. 

UPDATE 1.24.15
We're working on a new format for the blog and are currently having problems getting the video to play properly on mobile devices.
Here is a direct link.

So lets get down to why you shouldn't do this. On youtube I found just a few videos of people attempting this. As I showed in the video, I did one crayon with your basic lighter, and another with my work torch. I actually seemed to have had better luck with my lighter than I had previously seen on other youtube videos, but the torch, due to its higher temperature and more focused flame, got the job done quicker. My theory on why this works is that it's like a reversed candle - the paper on the outside of the crayon acts as a wick, and the melting wax inside the crayon helps coat and protect the paper from just going straight up into flames. 

But they don't burn for 30 minutes. Maybe 10-15 if you're lucky. In my video I show how at the 5 minute mark it's already halfway burned though. Also, the image above has it sitting on someone's carpet. Which is just remarkable as far as "really bad ideas" go -- not only are you faced with dripping wax on your carpet, most carpets are made with synthetic fibers and when they catch fire, it's not good. The wax itself is just a simple paraffin wax, which is commonly used in candles and even foods, but this experiment caused a lot of smoke to form, leaving my studio smelling my melted crayons for quite some time. 

All in all, this is just not a good idea. The crayon itself isn't stable, making it very prone to tipping or falling over, it doesn't last long, and it puts off a lot of smoke. I can't think how this would ever be a good idea. In a pinch you're better off even making a homemade oil burning lamp with olive oil than you would this. But the majority of people generally keep candles, lanterns, and flashlights on hand in case of power outage. 

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  1. I have seen this on Pinterest, too, and though it was a bad idea on carpet. Upon further examination, I THINK this crayon in the picture is on tile, not carpet. I still wouldn't light my crayons on fire, especially with nothing to stabilize the crayon with.
    Thanks for your blog.

  2. Now I'm going to need you to test the vegetable oil / candle / lantern theory floating around Pinterest!

  3. I saw this on Pinterest the other day and was thinking it would be a good post for your blog LOL

  4. To make it stable, melt a flat end and makr ot stand. As soon as it cools down it wont tip over

  5. Hey, you should use a BBQ lighter, then melt the pointy end of the crayon's wax onto a plate or something, let it dry for two seconds, then stick the flat end into the wax and cool. This creates a stable surface and the melted wax exposes the paper for you. The BBQ lighter is recommended since a regular cigarette lighter can burn or hurt your hands.

  6. The problem is even with having it set in a steady base, it really only lights for about 5 minutes, and the smoke it puts off is far more than that of a candle. Other than using a crayon to help get a fire going, I can't see these being practical makeshift candles.

  7. Zandra30/12/13

    I did this with my menorah and a BBQ lighter on our fireplace... they burned well and looked great, but the smell was awful when we put them out.

  8. Anonymous19/1/14

    The photo looks to be taken on tile. Also, one of the original key points is: to be used in an emergency. In such a situation, practicality trumps peripherals. 5-10 minutes of light suits it's intended purpose. You needed light. You got some. If you have children, whom usually have tons of crayons laying around, you've got a good supply of short term light, helping save on batteries or longer burning candles, as you never known how long you'd be without electricity. In emergency/survival mode, this is viable supplemental lighting. I am unclear as to why this is laughable?

  9. Anonymous3/2/14

    Carpet or tile the wax is still going to drip down the side of the crayon onto the floor. And these are ridiculous makeshift candles because the wax was not intended to be burnt as a candle and the fumes can be an irritant to adults let alone if you have the crayons because of children (and you probably do!) I would advise you to have a flashlight or any candle in case of emergencies...youre not saving much money doing this because the crayon would only last about 5 minutes and its not like you cant just blow out a candle and relight it next time you need it if the lights come back on before your candle goes out. I understand this is for "emergencies" but even a birthday candle (which is something else you're as likely to have kicking around the house if you have children) is a much better quick fix because at least you dont have to worry about opening all the windows to try to ventilate the house while you burn the crayon

  10. Anonymous7/2/14

    If you're prepared enough to have crayons, you're prepared enough to have candles. What most people these days don't have is matches, because fewer people than ever smoke.

  11. Anonymous1/5/14

    it works ive tried it. 30 minutes tops...

  12. So far so good. I'm 10 minutes into this...half a crayon left. No odor or smoke. Also I am using a white crayon.

    1. It burned exactly 15 minutes. I will say the flame was much larger than that of any candle and actually put off a decent amount of heat. If in an emergency flash light, I would definitely use this. Honestly it burned closer to the consistency of a torch imo. I heated the bottom of the candle prior to lighting it, to stabilize it to the plate I was using. Overall I was still pretty impressed

  13. Anonymous4/11/14

    Response from Crayola

    Crayola LLC commented on a YouTube video attempting to demonstrate this claim.

    At Crayola, we love creativity & are usually excited to hear of novel ways to use our products. However, burning them is not quite what we had in mind. We value safety even more than creativity & strongly discourage the use of crayons this way. They are not designed or tested for this and could create risks different from ordinary candles. We would very much appreciate that you not associate the Crayola name w/ your suggested use. This use is something we certainly do not condone or endorse.

  14. I am concerned this is a very dangerous way to light up your home in an power outage. First of all a small crayon will not burn up to 30 minutes but what is of more concern is the crayon itself. Crayola Crayons may be safe to burn -not on the floor or carpet - but I would not trust a crayon made in China because their ingredients may be highly flammable. A box of crayons is about the same price as a small flashlight. Be safe and opt for that flashlight. Leave the crayons for coloring until the lights come back on! :)

  15. Anonymous24/1/15

    Please check out the following Chemistry/Education site.

    It has crayon burning not only as easy chemistry but also as an emergency candle.It is written by an expert in the field who holds a PhD, which is much more than I hold!