Why Melting Old Crayons Could Save You During a Blackout

When a sudden blackout darkens our homes, finding alternative light sources becomes indispensable. This is where those childhood mementos stashed away in drawers—old crayons—can be repurposed into something unexpectedly practical: candles.

I was intrigued when I heard about my neighbor using their kids’ leftover crayons as emergency lighting solutions and couldn’t help but wonder about the safety of this approach.

Crayons are primarily made of paraffin wax, a substance commonly found in regular candles, making them a feasible option for temporary illumination. However, concerns about toxicity are legitimate, especially when substances not designed for burning are set alight in enclosed spaces. It’s worth delving into whether crayons emit harmful substances when melted in a similar fashion to candles.

Key Takeaways

  • Old crayons can serve as a candle alternative during power outages.
  • Crayons, made of paraffin wax, are akin to typical candle materials.
  • Safety considerations are important when using crayons for light.

The Science of Crayon Candles

When I first heard that my neighbor was using old crayons as candles during power outages, I was intrigued. After all, we’re always looking for ways to repurpose everyday items, especially in unexpected situations like a blackout. Let’s explore how crayons can light up the darkness and whether they’re safe to use in this way.

Crayon Composition and Burnability

Crayons, which we often associate with childhood art projects, are primarily made of paraffin wax and color pigments. These materials are known for their combustibility, which is why crayons can hold a flame. In my research, I found an explanation showing that when crayons are heated up, their components separate; the wax rises to the top, and the pigments settle at the bottom From Engineer to SAHM.

Here’s a simple breakdown:

  • Wax content: Allows the crayon to burn slowly like a candle.
  • Pigment: Does not contribute to burnability.

A crayon’s ability to burn relies on its wax, which melts and vaporizes, fueling the flame, while the pigment is just there for color.

Toxicity Concerns with Melting Crayons

Using crayons as candles brings up a valid question about toxicity. While crayons are non-toxic when used for drawing, burning them is a different story. Melting is safe because crayons are required to meet certain safety standards, including being non-toxic, since they are often used by children. However, when it comes to burning, there isn’t as much clear information about the byproducts released. Some say that because crayons are non-toxic, the fumes should also be safe. Yet, it’s important to remember that burning anything can potentially release harmful substances, not just from the wax, but also from the pigments and other additives.

I came across a science experiment that attempts to use a crayon as a candle which suggests that crayons may not be the best choice for lighting Shannon’s Grotto. So, while crayons could serve as a last-resort light source in a pinch, we should be cautious about their fumes, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. It might be a better idea to stick to emergency candles that are specifically designed for burning.

Practical Tips for Blackout Preparation

When the power goes out unexpectedly, it’s crucial to be prepared with reliable light sources that are ready to use. I’ll give you the rundown on some nifty alternatives and how to safely use a surprisingly common household item—crayons—as an emergency light.

Alternative Light Sources

Before a blackout hits, I make sure to have a variety of lighting options at hand. Flashlights and battery-operated lanterns are my go-tos because they’re safe and easy to use. It’s essential to regularly check that they’re working and to store extra batteries nearby. I also keep glow sticks for a quick, safe solution that even the kids can handle without risk. For a more long-term solution, solar-powered lights are fantastic as they recharge during the day and don’t require any batteries.

Safety Tips for Using Crayons as Candles

Crayons can be used as candles in a pinch, but it’s important to use them safely. First, I ensure that the crayons are non-toxic which most brand name ones are (always check the label). When I’m ready to light one up, I securely set the crayon standing upright—maybe by melting a bit of the bottom wax to stick it to a solid surface. Then, I light the top end of the crayon, the end where the paper has been peeled back. The crayon should have a burn time of about 15-30 minutes, but I never leave these makeshift candles unattended since they’re not designed to be used this way. Always have a fire extinguisher or a bucket of sand or water nearby, just in case.