You may have noticed that The Happy Hoarder has a thing for being able to see in the dark.
I’d hoard solar if I could afford the dang stuff. Ironic, then, that the sun is free. Well, I’ll get me some panels one of these days because it’s like that fancy-pants finance guy Chris Martenson says; in the post peak oil world the difference between no energy at all — say, no electric lights and all that — and even 10% energy is like the difference between the stone age and civilization.
I think he’s got a point. And The Happy Hoarder don’t cotton with the Fred Flintstone thing.
So I hedge my bets with candles.
First off, candles are romantic and Mrs. Happy Hoarder likes ’em. If my little lady is in any kind of foul mood — say the chickens wouldn’t get rounded up come nighttime, or the kids got sassy — then all I have to do is pluck a blue bell from the garden, plunk it in a vase, light me some candles and I’ve got her smiling in no time.
She’s a romantic. And you don’t cross Mrs. Happy Hoarder.
Dipping my wick
Well as you can imagine, acquiring and storing candles ain’t entirely a straightforward affair.
Main problem is, stores are always trying to charge an arm and a leg for a candle, wrapping ’em up in all kinds of excess packaging and doo-dads and what-nots. Sometimes I go in for these hopped up hotties if it’s off season and there’s some kind of big sale. But only if they’re not bathed in all kinds of synthetic smelling scents. Those don’t store well (their smells often sour over time), and the last thing I’m going to want after a hardscrabble day in the low energy future is to come home and smell some soured version of what some freakish corporate sort thought wafted out a nose of “pumpkin pie.”
No, I like to keep it simple. If it’s scented with all natural oils or essences, fine, I add it to my collection. But my expectations of long-lasting scent aren’t high. What I’m interested is light. Glorious light.
In the end, I shoot for two things. I want my candles to cost less than two bucks and be in pretty good condition.
My number one source for candles is yard sales, where 25 cents is essentially the going rate. I’d buy almost any candle for two bits, though I’d rather spend a dime if it’s a taper.
My number two source is thrift stores. There they can get upstart and charge a whole buck for a small pillar, which rubs me the wrong way. These things should only be half a buck, tops. I mean they’re used most of the time. If it’s a little bit more costly I just remind myself of how expensive and potentially scarce candles are going to be in the future and I pony up an extra quarter or two and call it a day.
While you’re rustlin’ up some waxworks, don’t forget the candlesticks, candelabra and them tall jar-candles with the Virgin of Guadeloupe or the Archangel Michael. You’ll want enough to put ’em all around the house, so’s you can have light in every room. Yard sales and thrift shops sell ’em all at affordable rates.
The Happy Hoarder aims to get one or two candles a week, more if the price is good. This means a minimum of 104 candles collected a year. That gives me a sense of security when I think of long nights in brownout conditions with nothing left to do but gaze at the lovely Mrs. Happy Hoarder or read me a good book.
The other thing I look for is real beeswax. If I score beeswax at a tag sale or thrift store, I’ve even been known to up my willing price.
Sometimes folks are eager to unload a whole box of old candles because they’ve lost their color, or they just don’t use ’em. Well I do use ’em, and I will use ’em. So I swoop in and make my score.
I aim to live the good life in the apocalypse, and I shudder to think what it will take to get ahold of some candles when the cow patty has started flyin’ fast and furious.
Going pear shaped
So let’s say you get yourself a decent supply of candles, all shapes and sizes. The thing you want to watch out for in candle storage is them going all melty, or else getting brittle. The key is temperature control. Now, most of us don’t have museum-quality climate control, so we have to do the best we can.
Don’t put them in the barn or the attic, for gosh sakes!
This young lady blogged about how she got an idea from that industrious Martha Stewart for using paper towel holders to store tapers. Now I’m no fan of paper towels (I only got ten fingers to count how many ways they’re wasteful, and ten fingers ain’t enough) and I hope you’re not buying ’em. But if you’ve got any of those tubes, well sure, wrap your candles in paper and stuff ’em in there, why not?
But my best advice is to
- Store tapers flat
- Keep all candles in a sealed box
- Store ’em in the coolest place in the house
Necessity is the mother of invention
Don’t get caught in the coming brownouts without a source of light, friend. In the end, I think it could be a much more charming time to know where our light sources come from, and the energy required to get it. And I don’t want to be the one high and dry.
If you’re one of the many unemployed, or one of those college kids that they say can’t get a job, here’s a tip: lots of your friends are becoming farmers; so why don’t you become a candle maker? Sure, people got to eat. But they damn well like to stay up at night, too. This is a career with a future. Master it now to get the jump on one of the power jobs of the future, my friend.
And you stay tuned to the Happy Hoarder, because I aim to talk about oil lamps too.
— The Happy Hoarder, Transition Voice