Life Hack: The Crisco Candle. Read This First!

How to Make a Candle from a Can of Crisco

You’ve probably all seen this. It’s one of the most popular Hacks being shared around on the Internet and Pinterest.

So does it work?

Yes, it does. You can stick a wick down into the center of a tub of Crisco and light it and it will burn—for a long time. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. We’ll discuss this aspect in a moment.

Why does it work?

Now this is the enlightening history behind the product called Crisco. Back in the day, the meat industry was making it expensive to purchase lard and tallow, which was used in the process of making candles and soap. Proctor & Gamble got the ingenious idea that they would make a product from plant oils that would stay in a solid form and be cheaper than lard or tallow so they could save money making candles and soap. (Yep – they weren’t even trying to make a food product!). They used a new process called hydrogenation. Without getting technical, this is done by bubbling hydrogen through the vegetable oil at high temperatures, a process that allows it to be solid at room temperature.

About that time, electricity was born & the candle business tanked.

Can of Crisco ShorteningProctor & Gamble needed another use for their Crisco product, so Vegetable Shortening was born and touted as a healthy alternative to meat-based products!

Of course it’s not really made from vegetables. It was originally made from cottonseed oil. In fact the name Crisco was derived from the term Crystalized Cottonseed Oil. And the high heat processing destroys any nutrients, like vitamin E and omega-3 essential fatty acids. The plant-based seed and grain oils they use today are highly processed and commonly genetically modified. So Crisco was quite possibly the first Imitation Food put on the market (how proud they must be)—and spurred on the invention of yet another imitation food—Margarine.

So, we’re back to the Candle from a Can of Crisco idea.

Let’s talk about those ‘cans’ for a moment. If you check it out, they aren’t metal at all. They are made from foil-lined cardboard tubes. So if you do stick a wick down into one and let it burn for hours, and the hot oil reaches the sides of the container, you’ve just created a fire hazard. Besides, who wants to burn a highly processed GMO laced product?

Candle made from a can of CriscoSo here’s the deal. If you’ve burned your last candle and the flashlight batteries have all just died…or if you find yourself lost in the woods and you come across a cabin you can shelter in and need some heat or light. Go ahead and make a candle out of that old tub of Crisco. Don’t worry—it never goes bad. Follow the usual precautions, keep an eye on it and don’t let it burn for hours at a time. Or better yet, scoop out some of the product and put it in glass or metal containers and add a wick. You should be fine. Just don’t cook with it!


Have you ever made an emergency candle from plant-based oils?


  1. mike

    very interesting and i would like to try it [in glass of course] my question is it safe to burn indoors, in other words are there toxins released by burning it indoors, or is it as safe as any other candle

    • indy

      Hi Mike, that’s a good question. I don’t remember smelling a strong odor when I burned mine as a test (unlike a crayon when used as an emergency candle). But, I’d suggest always using it with good ventilation, just to be safe. Even commercial candles sometimes come on too strong for me when in an enclosed, small space. Thanks for reading the blog and commenting- much appreciated!


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