I often try “proof-of-concept” survival techniques. Over a decade ago I burned crayons as candles and I have made different kinds of slush lamps. Recently I thought that I would try using a butter stick as a candle.
In the past, when I would go to a restaurant with my wife I would look for a candle for a little atmosphere at the table. If there wasn’t one I would take one of the complimentary bread buns and poke a hole into it with my table knife. I would put in a pad of butter and then twist up a piece of paper napkin to use as a wick and poke that into the butter. I would light it with my EDC lighter and Voilà! I had a candle!
With this experience as my inspiration I took a butter stick out of the fridge, set it on end in a small bowl, and let it warm up to room temperature. I cut a piece of paper towel and lightly buttered it on one side and rolled it up, flattening it with each round to create a wide vs. round wick. I used a spoon handle to poke down the center of the butter stick then I turned up the wick at the bottom end a little so that I could poke it down into the hole.
Once it was lit, it burned brightly at first and the butter began to melt. I had to attend to it by trimming the wick occasionally with some scissors along with the surrounding wrapping paper as it would burn off around the edge from time to time. It burned that way for over an hour. The butter would continue to leak into the bowl and gather at the bottom. When the cube burned down to a quarter inch in height and the wick began to have trouble staying upright I changed my strategy from candle mode to slush lamp! (See “Slush Lamp Basics“)
I decided to use a different wick for this approach and added a small strip of cotton from some scrap jeans and placed it inside the remaining square paper wrapper. Then I cut out a piece of scrap aluminum from a pet food cup and placed it on top. This effectively supported the new wick in addition to isolating the cotton wick from the melted butter. The new flame burned for 4 more hours!
In the end, the candle provided a quick usable flame but required constant maintenance. It also provided clarified butter at it’s base that worked wonderfully as fuel for a slush lamp. The slush lamp was virtually maintenance free. Depending on the emergency a person would have to decide on whether to use the butter as a fuel for light and warmth, or for using butter as a food, but then again, this was just a proof-of-concept project that was fun to do!