When you’ve laid in a good supply of various different candles, you will need something to hold the candles while they are burning. Your candle holders can be as simple or as fancy as you wish. You can melt a little wax in a metal jar lid and stick your candle in that.
You can pour a little sand in a glass jar and stick your candle down in that. Add a wire bail and you will have a fairly functional lantern that will not be blown out by every breeze that comes along.
I would advise against using wooden candle holders, either store-bought or home-made. When your candle burns down to the bottom it can catch the wood on fire and then you could have real problems. You can see by this photo from my earlier candle test that a wooden holder can definitely catch fire.
If your candles will be stationary and inside out of the wind, metal candlesticks work just fine. I have to admit to having a little bit of a thing for antique pewter candlesticks. If they are at all reasonably priced, I just can’t pass them up.
We generally use oil lamps during power outages, but we have been known to break out the candlesticks on occasion. One winter our power went out about an hour before 12 people were due to come over for dinner and a small after-Christmas party. We already had the open face wood stove burning, so all we had to do was break out the candles and the party went off without a hitch. Of course it helped that the attendees were all members of our mountain man club, so they thought the 19th century ambiance was great.
This makes for a fairly bright dining room, but in any long term situation I would not burn this many candles. If you have just a couple of candles burning in an average size room you will be surprised at how fast your eyes adjust and make the room seem fairly well lighted. Not read a book or do needlepoint well lighted, but good enough for most activities. Remember, most of the old time country folks didn’t “burn the mid-night oil” very often. Activities that required a lot of light were preformed during the day. When the sun went down, bedtime was not far off.
If you will be walking around the house with a candle, or especially if you are going outside; a candlestick will not work. No matter how slow you go, or how hard you try to protect the flame with your hand, your candle will blow out. What you need is a candle lantern.
There are many different kinds of candle lanterns, but they all have the same basic purpose. They are made to protect the candle flame from being accidentally blown out while still allowing the flame to illuminate the immediate area. As mentioned above you can improvise a pretty good lantern with a jar, some sand, a candle, and some wire; but there are many styles of ready made lanterns available.
The punched tin, or Paul Revere lantern is an attractive lantern; but, in my opinion, it is one of the least practical. It just does not emit enough light, and the light that it does emit is in a very distracting pattern. I would save this one for decoration and buy a more practical lantern for actual use.
Most stores that carry home decorator items will have a good variety of candle lanterns, and they usually don’t cost that much. You can buy two or three of these for your home without breaking the bank.
This wooden candle lantern is one that I bought at a mountain man rendezvous.
I’ve used it for years, and it works quite well. The only problem I have with it is that the actual candle holder is wood, so you have to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t catch fire. Also, you can’t burn really tall candles in it or the flame may set the top on fire. Sounds kind of dangerous now that I think about it, but I’ve never had any problems.
This last candle lantern is one that I made on the same basic pattern as the mountain man lantern above. Two differences are that I made it much smaller because I will only burn tea candles and votives in it, and I made the actual candle holder out of a metal jar lid so as to avoid the catching on fire problem.
Here is a comparison photo of five different lanterns in use. From left to right they are (1) candle in a jar improvised lantern, (2) Paul Revere lantern, (3) decorator lantern, (4) wooden mountain man lantern, and (5) small home-made wooden lantern. For purposes of comparison the first four lanterns are all burning standard paraffin emergency candles. Lantern number 5 is burning one of the paraffin tea candles that it was designed for. All except the Paul Revere lantern produce good light. I have been known to lay in my cot at night reading by the light of my mountain man candle lantern, so the light must be pretty good.