Can You Burn a Crayon in an Emergency?

A claim on the internet states that a crayon will burn for about 30 minutes, and can be used in place of a traditional candle in an emergency.

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While crayons do burn slowly, this is not a recommended or a tested use for them.

Our Burning Crayon Test

We wanted to see if the claim was even true regarding burning crayons, so we picked up a pack and went outside to test a couple of them out. It took some effort to get the crayons to actually light. We used matches – as that is what many people would use in an emergency – and it took several matches to get each crayon lit. Once they did light, they burned for approximately 12-15 minutes, which is half of the 30 minutes being claimed. The flame was not consistent in its intensity and we all agreed here that we’d feel uncomfortable having this lit inside. There was also a rather unpleasant smell emitting from the burning crayon. Finally, without something to hold the crayon in place, it was apt to fall over, spilling melted crayon wax. Below is a snapshot from our test:

burning-crayon

Response from Crayola

Crayola LLC commented on a YouTube video attempting to demonstrate this claim.

At Crayola, we love creativity & are usually excited to hear of novel ways to use our products. However, burning them is not quite what we had in mind. We value safety even more than creativity & strongly discourage the use of crayons this way. They are not designed or tested for this and could create risks different from ordinary candles. We would very much appreciate that you not associate the Crayola name w/ your suggested use. This use is something we certainly do not condone or endorse.

Bottom Line

While crayons do burn slowly, they have not been manufactured or tested for the purpose of replacing a traditional candle. They can also be messy and emit a foul smell. If you’re looking at an inexpensive light source in an emergency, you’re much better off stocking up on a few candles, which are safer and last much longer.

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5 Comments on Can You Burn a Crayon in an Emergency?

  1. Don’t try lighting the crayon. Light the paper wrapper. The paper is the wick, and is easy to light. But there are reasons that wicks have been placed INSIDE candles for thousands of years.

  2. We were that a can of Crisco with a wick could be used as a light source in an emergency.

  3. Another suggestion: if you have solar lights accenting your walk/garden, pull them up and use inside. I also saw ‘solar rocks’ at the local dollar store…didn’t actually buy any, but might be worth-at a dollar, looking into

  4. Timothy Campbell // June 26, 2013 at 6:08 am // Reply

    A more sensible solution to emergency lighting is hand-pumped flashlights. My wife bought four on Amazon.com for something like $10. One of them failed but the others work fine — 30 minutes of light for 30 seconds of pumping.

    On a related note, I spent several months checking out the flashlight section at Wal-Mart for hand-pumped flashlights. I couldn’t find them despite repeated visits — not even in the camping section. Finally, one day, it dawned on me that almost all of the flashlights Wal-Mart sells are manufactured by companies that make batteries.

    I guess they wouldn’t want people to buy a flashlight that never needs batteries.

    • Excellent suggestion. I actually ran across some cheap ones at a local dollar store. I picked up 5 of them for $5, and nearly a year later 4 of them still work. It’s a great invention.

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