Lipstick Candle

Making a candle out of lipstick

After my spectacular success at making a candle out of lard, I began to see the potential energy of all sorts of different things. What else could be put to work as a candle? Fat was the common denominator, and there are a  whole lot of things made out of fat.

Of the twenty-three things I wanted to try making a candle out of, the sexiest idea was to try to make a candle out of lipstick. Stacy and Ashley agreed to help.

Lipstick certainly comes in a lot of different formulations. They are known to contain everything from beeswax and  cocoa butter to castor oil and petrolatum. Everything I've seen seemed like it would burn in a candle or oil-lamp,  right down to the monohydric alcohols with even-numbered carbon chains.


My wife Stacy used to manage a makeup department at Longs Drugs, so I went to her for advice on cheap lipsticks. She told me immediately: Get Wet and Wild. Her enthusiasm caused a slight misunderstanding, but I was only in the hot tub for a few minutes before I figured out what she was talking about.


At Longs, there were two brands of ultra-cheap lipstick, and both had names meant to coax the allowance from tweens: Wet and Wild and Wild and Crazy. Tubes were $1 each.

For Wild and Crazy, I picked Flame Lip, surely the most flammable color. 

I must have looked like the leader of the creepsquad at the front register.


At home, I sacrificed another candle and extracted the wick.

Stacy and Ashley advised me on how to prepare the lipstick. I exposed the long lipstick with a twist, and delicately sliced a little channel into the side.

Pressing the wick into place.

Would it be too wet? Would it be too wild?


If I succeeded in making a candle out of this lipstick, it was going to be an awfully cute little candle. Travel size!
We lit it up!

It lit, burning up the wax which was still within the wick. It began to melt the wax, and draw it up, into the wick.

The top of a lipstick is the wrong shape to properly support a pool of melted wax fuel for the candle, but I'd cross that bridge when I came to it.

It was working... no, the flame shrunk to a tiny ball, and it went out.


We tried it again and again met with failure. 

I tried again and noticed that the wick was crackling a bit. The wick looked sparkly.

It didn't take long to figure out what had happened.

The lipstick contained little specks of some kind of little glittery pearl substance. I couldn't even see this stuff in the lipstick, but it had become concentrated.

As the wax crawled up the wick, vaporized and burned, it left behind the non-flammable stuff. This unburned white stuff gathered at the tip of the wick, and clogged it, cutting off the supply of  freshly melted wax for the flame.

So. The answer, in this case, is no. I could not make a candle out of a lipstick The fuel contained impurities, and  the impurities were not burning away.

My question was answered, but as with so much of science, when you answer one question, a dozen more are raised. What else could I use to make a candle?

I think I'll try an eyebrow pencil. I see people lighting those things all the time.

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August 12th, 2006

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