I hate waste and I love trying to do things first hand, I don’t mind reading things but I often! find that something that seems long or hard on paper can in fact move smoothly and turn out to be quite easy when done, and I have also read some things that seem so simple or would work so easily, and then when you go to do it.. it either does not work or works but so poorly that its hardly worth the time..
So when I read on many sites that Sheep or Lamb Tallow was the choice for homemade candle making, I thought hmmm, now the very rich used beeswax to make their candles and both beef and pork fat was used in candle making when folks had little to no choice, of course in many parts of the world, whale oil was used for generations.
Now, lard (pork fat) is said to have a strong smell to it, and was not considered of highly, now given that this was during times where folks liked to boost of things like.. “I take a bath once a month, weither I need it or not” or didn’t bath more then once a year, for them to think something didn’t smell good, I will take their word for it..
Interestingly the middle class would according to my research, often mix a little beeswax into their lamb tallow at about a 3/4 tallow, 1/4 beeswax, this would produce a slightly firmer candle and would create a more pleasent smell when burning.
On the flip side, I have found other sites that said that for those that could not afford pure sheep or lamb tallow, they mixed their half and half with the cheaper but still useable beef tallow..
So I butchered out two legs of lamb this week, and I saved every single bit of fat on them and put them to boil with the bones, I then drained/strained the broth, it filled 3 quart jars to the brim and into the fridge to set, I took off layers of solid fat,but it was still not as clean as I would like it.
Now there were two choices given , dry or wet in regards to cleaning the tallow, the wet is to add water to the fat and bring it carefully to 160 and then strain it though a screen with a layer of clean cloth, or cheese cloth or butter cloth. Or you can choose to do it dry, again heating the oil to melting point at 140, and then straining it.
This is the second cleaning of the tallow, at this point it would be considered top grade tallow (which has four grades per our industrial ratings), now this would be wonderful tallow to use in cooking, as the fat has a very high smoke point, and as this was grass feed organic lamb, the fats contant alot of healthy benafits, it could also be used in baking if required. Clearly if you were truly living off the land, you would need to find a balance between needing the fat in your diet vs using it as a light/heat source.
However, I was on a different track with it, now my lamb legs, produced me 4 oz of twice cleaned lamb tallow, I put it into a 8 0z canning jar, along with a wick.. now remember to attach your wick to the rod that will lay across the top of your jar flat, so that you can hang your wick straight down in the center of your candle, now I cheated and put it in the fridge but there is no reason you would have to do that, you could let it set on the counter, but my purr-pots were way to interested in the smell of that fat to leave it out and alone.
Now comes the big test, it lit well, it buys with a lovely candle glow, it does not have a smell, in fact is darn right pleasent what little smell it does have.. now it does have two interesting things of note, one it burns louder then a typical candle, its has a soft sputter sound is the best I can say.. second it burns faster then a typical modern candle, or to be fair, it burns faster in a good qaulity modern candle but slower then one of those super cheap candles.
Now, this is awesome, I now have a way to create my own homemade 0 mile candles..
In keeping with this, I will be ordering in a good supply of wicks to put into my Emergency Supplies and will continue making my tallow candles, this is to me, a wonderful addition to my ever growing emergency supplies and skill set.. If anyone makes their own homemade tallow candles and have any tips to offer me, I would love to hear from you.