Best Emergency Candles: Top 5 Picks Reviewed, Buying Guide

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By Bryan Lynch •  8 min read

In our heavily mechanized world, there is one emergency item that can be easily overlooked due to its simplicity. 

Best Emergency Candles

An emergency candle. 

While simple in design and operation a candle will always have its place and they are great to have for emergencies. 

Don’t get me wrong. Flashlights, solar-powered lights, and crank-style lights are all wonderful gadgets and it would do you well to have an assortment of them. 

But like anything else they have their downfalls. Most of them depend on some type of power source and “moving parts” can fail. 

Sometimes during an emergency when life can become chaotic, simplicity is best and it doesn’t get much simpler than a wick and wax. 

Candles are still a great choice as a light source because they do not depend on a power source and they do not go “bad.” A candle can be stored in a pack and six years later will still work perfectly well. 

Pros of Candles

Cons of Candles

Best Emergency Candles: Top 5 Picks

Sterno Emergency Candles: Small 9-hour   

Sterno Emergency Candles

At 1.5 inches tall, these unscented candles are almost the smallest ones on the list.

They burn up to nine hours and their size makes them highly portable and allows for several of them to be used in lighting up a room. 

A small box of these are easily transported in a vehicle or a pack and can be split up among multiple group member so that everyone has a light source. 

Their low profile also allows them to be placed in shallow dishes or soup cans when a traditional candle holder is not readily available. 

Sterno Emergency Candles, 6-Pack, White
  • Set of (6) mini-column candles
  • Each candle burns up to 9 hours

Last update on 2024-06-16 at 12:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Sterno Emergency Candles 7-Inch Sticks   

Sterno Emergency Candles 7-Inch Sticks

These white, unscented candles have the appearance of the more traditional looking stick candle. 

At seven inches tall and seven-hour burn time, these tall candles are ideal for placing multiples around a room and carrying while lit. 

Stick candles are better suited to be used with a holder specifically made from them, especially when moving them around the house or outdoors. So be sure to have a couple of holders if this is the type of candle you choose. 

Another benefit of a stick candle is that they are easier to move in multiple directions. This is helpful when using the candle to light other materials or ignition sources. 

Sterno Emergency Candles, 7-Inch Sticks, 4-Pack
  • Set of four 7-inch stick candles
  • Each candle burns up to 7-hour

Last update on 2024-06-16 at 12:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

UCO 9-Hour White Candles For UCO Candle Lantern

UCO 9-Hour White Candles For UCO Candle Lantern

These candles are meant to be used in a UCO lantern but do not let that discourage you because the candles can certainly be used without the lantern. 

Each white candle measures 3.5 inches in height and will burn for up to nine hours. Considering its size, that is a great burn time. 

Other than the burn time, the size of these candles is what makes them ideal for emergencies. 

They can easily be placed into a pack for the avid outdoorsmen, a glove compartment box in the vehicle, various kinds of survival kits, or in that junk drawer in your home. 

These candles do not drip excessively, and the cotton wick does well at maintaining a large flame that does not diminish while being used.  

UCO 9-Hour Survival Emergency Candles, Fits Candle Lantern, 3 Pack
  • Survival Candle Pack: Ideal for camping, hiking, and other outdoor adventures; Add these white...
  • Long-Burning Candles: The perfect candles for power outages, these long-lasting candles burn for up...

Last update on 2024-06-16 at 13:02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Coghlan’s 36-Hour Survival Candle 

Coghlan’s 36-Hour Survival Candle

This emergency candle is a three-wick candle that comes in a small tin with a book of matches. 

It has a burn time of up to 36 hours or up to 12 hours per wick. 

When single wicks are being used it is recommended to switch between wicks at even internals. This will allow the wax to melt uniformly instead of becoming too heavy on one side. 

Considering that this candle only weighs 6 ounces and comes in a protective tin, and matches are included, it makes a great choice not only for emergencies at home but for carrying on outdoor adventures. 

Coghlan's 36-Hour Survival Candle, 6-Ounce
  • Compact, lightweight candle with three wicks can burn up to 36 hours (up to 12 hours per wick)
  • Metal canister with cover protects candle; includes matches; weighs 6 ounces

Last update on 2024-06-16 at 13:02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

No Brand Name Birthday Candles

At first, these may seem odd to have on the list, especially without offering a brand. 

But cheap birthday candles that can be picked up at most stores are great to have for a few reasons. 

Their two biggest pitfalls are that they drip like crazy and have an incredibly short burn time. 

What To Look For In Emergency Candles

Burn Time 

When there is no other light source, the burn time of a candle is what is going to matter the most. 

A candle that burns out and leaves you in the dark is not one you want to depend on. 

Six-hour burn time seems to be on the low end of most emergency candles so use that as the starting point for how long your candle should last 


Size comes down to personal preference, how the candle is being stored and used. 

Small tea lights are incredibly portable and store easily in packs and vehicles. But they typically do not last as long and you will need several of them to light up a room. 

Stick candles are more traditional looking but the function is more important over appearances. These typically have a midrange burn time, are easily carried by hand, are easier to use for lighting other materials, and do well in lighting up a room. However, they are more prone to breaking given their skinny profile. 

Large base candles generally have the longest burn time considering they are bigger. They do well in lighting up a room and are easier to pick up and move. Given their size and weight they do well being used in a home over being carried in a pack. 

Open Questions about Emergency Candles

Q: Do my candles have to be “emergency candles?”

Not at all. Emergency candles are just candles that have a long burn time. Generally, they are unscented as well to make them more customer-friendly. But there are plenty of quality “non-emergency” candles available, you will simply have to shop around to find what best suits your needs. 

Q: Can emergency candles be left to burn while I sleep?

The safest measure is to never leave any lit open flame source unattended. That means when you go to bed, the candle should be properly extinguished.

Q: What should I do if the wick falls into the melted wax?

If the flame has gone out, wait until the melted wax has cooled and solidified. Use a pointed utensil to pry and lift the wick out of the wax. Using scissors, trim a small portion of the wick from the top. 

Q: Can scented candles be used as emergency candles?

Absolutely. The main reason most “emergency candles” are unscented is that they appeal to more people. As long as your scented candle gives off decent light and burns enough for your needs there is no reason not to use it. Plus, a favored scent in the air might do well in making a stressful situation a little more comforting. 


Emergencies can be tough to plan for because we never know exactly what will come our way. 

We can lose power at home, lose our way in the wild, or be stuck in a vehicle on the side of the road for the night. 

Emergency candles are so simple, affordable, easy to store, and have such a long shelf life that everyone should have some in their emergency kits.

What are your favorite types of candles to have in times of an emergency? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and stay prepared!

Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021.