As the nights were getting longer, I was intrigued about natural ways to bring light to camp. I’d collected some clay from Pippin Wood and wanted to make use of this too. A plan for my next experiment was forming.
I started experimenting with making candles.
First step was to make thumb pots out of the clay and air-dry them. The clay lumps I’d collected previously had already air-dried by this stage. So we ground up the hard lumps of clay and added water from the stream, to get workable clay again. Getting the right consistency took a bit of work, but we got there after some very messy moments!
After air-drying the pots, I prepared some wicks. The first wick I tried was a piece of dried Birch Polypore, a bracket fungus. This had worked well with a coconut oil lantern. It wasn’t so successful with the tallow, being more viscous it didn’t flow up the wick so well, and regularly went out after just a few minutes burning. The second time, I used Rose Bay Willow Herb as the wick, and this worked very well, burning steadily and bright, with tallow and coconut oil. Both times I dipped the tip of the wick into the fuel before constructing the candle.
I used both tallow and coconut oil as fuel. My tallow was from left over cooking fat, lamb casseroles and breakfast bacon. Rather than composting it, I thought I would try and put it to a good use. It works and burns well, but isn’t really advisable for use on a dinner table inside. The coconut oil however is a good option whatever the situation, creating a lovely tropical aroma around the candle.