Hoaxes & Rumors

Can You Burn a Crayon in an Emergency?

Can You Burn a Crayon in an Emergency?

A “fact” 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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Disclaimer: While crayons do burn slowly, it is not recommended to burn them even in an emergency. In addition, we also do not recommend that they even be tested in this manner.

Our Burning Crayon Test

There are several fact pages online which assert that a crayon will burn for about 30 minutes and can be used as a replacement candle during an emergency.

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.

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Once they did light, each burned for approximately 12-15 minutes, which is half of the 30 minutes being claimed. The flame was not consistent in its intensity and everyone here agreed 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:


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

Crayons are made from paraffin wax and will burn. 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.

Updated September 13, 2016
Originally published June 2013

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