Tuesday, July 09, 2013

The Almost Zero Dollar, Zero Ounce Candle Lantern

Yesterday, I stumbled on this DIY ultralight weight candle lantern. It consists of two clear plastic cups holding a candle with a bit of water between them. It uses a set of binder clips to hold the cups together. It's lightweight and cheap, but I wondered: (a) doesn't the water make for a hassle setting this up? And (b) where would I find just the right size clear cups? (See a video of the setup here)

This morning, to my surprise, I got my answer to (b). When I opened our pantry to get my morning tea I was greeted by the following set of plastic cups:

I grabbed a cup from the package and dropped in a tea light candle. Sure enough, it fit perfectly. Turns out Hefty Clear 10oz Plastic Party cups are the perfect size this project.

With the candle in the cup, I lit the wick and waited to see if the plastic would melt. While the top of the cup got warm, the sides didn't. I'm satisfied that extra cup and cooling water aren't necessary. Here's how the setup looks when in use:

The "lantern" wasn't effected by the breeze outside or the ceiling fan in my office. Further more, the whole setup is quite stable. In the field, I'd probably use some dental floss to hang this up. I probably wouldn't use this setup inside of a tent, though.

Given the weight and affordability, I think this lighting hack is hard to beat. As a bonus both the candle and cup can be used for other purposes, so there's really no excuse not to bring them along while backpacking.

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