The Real Know How

How-Tos, Videos, Tutorials — Ramping Up for the 21st Century

Archive for the category “lighting”

Make A Tallow Candle

Instead of using wax as its fuel, a tallow candle uses animal fat.

In the following video, the tallow used comes from caribou and the wick is made from willow bark. Phreshyr molds the candle in wet sand. He uses a double boiler method to melt the tallow, so that there is less of a risk of it catching fire.

In the video he wonders aloud if “this will work” – in his comments he clarifies that what he was wondering is whether the candle would be stable and the wick would work as a wick should channeling tallow to the flame or if the candle would go out. His tallow candle burns well and he notes that the techniques are simple enough to use in a bare bones outdoor setting.

MiWilderness uses deer tallow for his candle bodies and dogsbane cordage for his wicks. He presoaks his wicks in melted tallow and uses opened paper clips to hold the wicks in place as he pours the tallow and while the tallow sets. He used a twist tie in the bottom of the tea light candles he made to keep the wick erect. He mentions, but doesn’t show the method of creating candles by dipping them repeatedly in the tallow.

He says that the tallow candles don’t have any kind of odd smell.

Mimechef shows us his beef tallow and bacon fat tealights. He also talks about other uses for tallow – as in plumbing:

How to Make Your Own LED Light Fixture

I personally draw the line at fiddling with electricity (I’d have to gain some experience and confidence there first), but if that’s a skill that’s part of your toolkit building your own LED light fixture seems fairly straight forward.

The benefits of LEDs:

1. Long lifespan

2. Use less electricity than even compact fluorescent lights (CFLs)

3. More durable than CFLs

4. Turn on instantly – no delay as sometimes happens with CFLs

5. Aren’t affected by frequent turning on and off, a practice that shortens the life of CFLs

6. Emit much less heat than CFLs or incandents

7. Aren’t affected by temperature or humidity as CFLs and incandescent lights can be

8. Don’t contain mercury as CFLs do

9. Won’t need to be replaced as often

As compact fluorescents (CFLs) have gotten more efficient the cost savings with LEDs have diminished. Still, the LEDs last far, far longer than CFLs. LEDs can offer, for example, 50,000 hours of use before they need to be replaced versus 10,000 hours for a CFL. Both in terms of electricity cost and length of lifespan they completely leave incandescents in the dust. I found these comparisons useful.

Another plus for LED lights — since they don’t contain mercury as the CFLs do, so they don’t require special toxic materials disposal.

Note that a lot has changed regarding LEDs. Just a few years ago when I first looked into them, they were hard to find (I was going to have to mailorder them from a wholesale company) and were insanely expensive. I remember being frustrated that they were readily available in several developing countries but were almost unattainable here. Now there is a choice of three different brands of LED light fixtures at my local hardware store, retailing for about $30-45. I’ve noticed them available outside my area for as low as $25.

But. if you are handy in this way, you can likely make an LED fixture for less than that and increase the cost savings.

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