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

  • benny black

    soak them in petrol for 6 hrs and then clamp them to sturdy candlestick..

  • Biel_ze_Bubba

    Good way to drain your phone’s battery – not exactly what you want to do in an emergency.

  • toohip

    No candle will burn without a wick. This why you can light a crayon, until the paper gets lit. And they don’t last 30 min. john has it right, if the paper were “inside” the crayon, hence a wick, it would work better and probably last 30 min. Fail.

  • Crystal

    My daughter loves doing all kinds of artwork, and got an idea to glue crayons onto a board, use a hair dryer downward, and get them to melt into beautiful patters that later dry. It’s a really nice piece of artwork she has made for friends & family. I think lighting crayons in an emergency is just an accident waiting to happen. It doesn’t cost much to get some decent candles that have a long burning life, and some candle holders. Better yet, just be prepared, have a radio with batteries so you can keep updated on what’s going on, sometimes the Internet is down & also cel towers. Have a few flashlights, lots of batteries, have the wind up flashlight if you want you can buy one at Canadian Tire. Have water, non perishable food items, extra blankets in case you have no heat. It’s not hard to have those few things aside in case of emergency. Be safe & keep updated on what’s going on & when power is expected to be restored.

  • john

    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.

  • Kelly

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

  • Timothy Campbell

    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.

    • waffles

      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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