Lanterns & Candles
The lanterns were used to light the house. Some lanterns had a candle in them. Other lanterns were oil lamps that had a wick, and a well that held coal oil or kerosene. They had a glass chimney to prevent spills of oil. Lanterns with wire handles were used for going outdoors and could also be hung indoors.
Lanterns were essential for settlers to get around their houses and homesteads at nighttime because they didn’t have electricity.
The general store sold lamps, lanterns, and oil (coal oil or kerosene). Not every homesteader could afford to buy an oil lamp or lantern, so the only light in a home without a lantern would come from candles or the fireplace.
Making candles was a messy job and took a long time. Some candles were made from beeswax, but most were made from animal fat (tallow). The fat came from deer, cattle, sheep, pigs, bison, or bears that they had killed for food.
The fat was melted in a large iron kettle.
Then it was boiled in water and then strained.
Several pieces of string (cords) were hung on a stick or rod.
The cords were dipped into the pot of hot fat, then cooled, and dipped again.
This was done over and over till the candle was thick enough that it would burn for a while.
The candles were cooled and then the strings were trimmed.
These are the steps settlers used to make candles.
Candle molds are used to pour the hot fat into so they can harden into candles.
Candles made of certain types of fat had an unpleasant smell when lit. The settlers learned which herbs or spices could be added to the melted fat so the burning candles would not smell so awful.
The candles were placed in candlestick holders or in lanterns.
Candle molds were also used to make a few candles at one time. Cords were placed in the molds and melted fat was poured in and left to cool and harden. Next, the wicks were trimmed. More candles could be made this way and it was faster and not as messy.
Children often helped to make candles.
Makes candles is a is a long, tedious job.