UCO Original Candle Lantern

10:55 p.m. on November 22, 2006 (EST)
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There's not much in the reviews about the UCO Original Candle Lantern, and I've sort of formed a liking to these little gadgets. The retailers praise them and give suggestions of small tent and hand warmer functionality. The citronella version of the candles are suppose to ward off summer insects, although I fear they might draw other creatures. I have no idea of the light output, but imagine it may illuminate a small tent at night or a very small area outside of a tent.

What's the real scoop on these and does anyone who has ever used one hold it in favor or disfavor? It's almost like a novelty item, but could be a small luxury also.

- Blackbeard

12:21 a.m. on November 23, 2006 (EST)
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I have several candle lanterns. Well, a couple are period-correct for the Mountain Man fur-trade era, since Barb and I do re-enactments. But I have a couple that are similar to the one you mention. Couple of caveats - all the tent manufacturers make the statement that you should never have any flames in your tent (that's actually a required-by-law statement to satisfy the fire safety laws in most states). The reality is that there is a real fire danger with a flame in a tent, especially synthetic tents. They will melt and drip really hot stuff that will stick to the flesh and burn you (I've gotten a few scars that way from fusing the ends of nylon cords and ropes), and may in fact actually start burning with a fierce flame. But if you are careful and keep the lantern hanging in a stable location, well away from the tent walls, you are probably ok.

Of course, I will add my standard disclaimer - never do anything that is not approved in writing by the manufacturer.

Two other dangers to be aware of - anything that burns - stove, candle, whatever - consumes oxygen, meaning there is a danger of exhausting the oxygen in your tent, which you need to breathe. Also, the yellow flame of a candle means incomplete combustion, hence carbon monoxide, as well as carbon dioxide. CO is poisonous and can kill. As a practical matter, if you vent the tent, there won't be a significant buildup.

All that said, there is nothing quite so pleasant in a tent (or even better, in a snow shelter) than the warm and friendly light of a candle. A candle doesn't produce enough warmth to heat your tent, but that yellow flame gives a warm feeling. Your eyes can adjust well enough to read by, too.

You do have to do a certain amount of maintenance of the lantern (and wick of the candle) to keep it operating most efficiently, and you do need to be aware that all candle lanterns will drip wax under some circumstances (probably won't melt the nylon of your sleeping bag, though, but it's a mess to get off).

Citronella? - works fine for keeping mosquitoes, no-see-ums, and other flying insects away, and seems to work on other exoskeletal beasts away, too (spiders, ticks, etc). I don't know of anything it attracts. I haven't heard of it attracting bears, skunks, raccoons, or other furry fellows, though I could have just missed that. But, if you are in your tent with the mesh zipped closed, you won't be getting the insects and their kin anyway.

While we are on flaming things, I strongly suggest you do not attempt to use stoves and lanterns of the liquid or compressed gas variety in your tent. at least not until you get very very familiar with the quirks of the flaming device. The fire, O2 depletion, and CO and CO2 buildup dangers are very real. I have seen tents disappear in very short order due to carelessness and inexperience with flaming devices. It even happens with very experienced people (like the Wilcox expedition on McKinley, who had a tent vanish in less than 10 seconds, along with a sleeping bag and a couple of down parkas).

8:44 a.m. on November 23, 2006 (EST)
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Thanks Bill,

I don't think I would ever use the lantern in the tent, or any other flame producer. That was just what the people who sell this thing printed. I've been a smoker since I started car camping, and never allowed cigarettes in the tent. I actually took the advice from an earlier question I asked and bought an LED headlamp. Three of them. The first one for hiking, the second one for my wife who liked it so much that she felt safer in and around the house, and a third one I liked better than the first two.

I would probably only use it when sitting outside the tent after daylight starts to fade, and since a lot of places don't allow or recommend camp fires, figured this might provide that same ambiance and still stay within the laws.

It doesn't look real sturdy, and packing it might be a problem, even with their padded case. I'm guessing that out in total darkness, a candle might seem pretty bright, and at the very least, should provide that mesmerizing effect of a fire. And the citronella would be nice in bug season. But again, I have seen what nylon jackets do to people who are wearing them when burning, and that is a sight that is hard to forget.

I feel I'm prepared to head out on that first overnighter finally, so whenever I get the time and select a place, and the weather cooperates a little, we'll see how this all pans out. Wish me luck (or at least wish me a good time since I don't really want to count on luck).

Thanks again. Happy Thanksgiving to you and all.


3:46 p.m. on December 5, 2006 (EST)
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I have a candle lantern - and wouldn't use it in a tent - but it's great if you happen upon an unoccupied shelter along the AT - and while they don't seem to produce a lot of light when you test them in "the modern world" they provide (to me) just the right amount when you're in the rather total darkness of the woods. There are some candles that are designed so the wax gets totally consumed (typically they come in little tins) -
I pack mine in my "sleeping socks" (always dry, always warm, never worn while hiking) and haven't broken the glass in over 12 years (watch - next time out - crash!).
Well worth the weight - in my opinion - your mileage may vary....

My 2 cents

10:49 p.m. on December 5, 2006 (EST)
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I've got an Early Winters candle lantern I bought for my bike tour years ago. Must be the same design-collapsible glass and aluminum with a candle about half the size of a Red Bull can. Works great. I have used mine a fair amount, but not really in the tent. Mine is in a little bag. I'm surprised I never broke the glass, but careful packing will keep it safe. I put mine in my cookkit on occasion.

4:58 a.m. on December 6, 2006 (EST)
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I have two candle lanterns.

They stay at home and chemical light sticks go camping. (the kind you can find at the Home Depot checkout counter)

I attach a light stick to the bill of my ball cap for a head lamp - try that with a candle :)

If you hang it above your camp it provides a lot of illumination, yest you still get the feeling your a stealth camper. Works great hung from the ceiling of your tent.

You will want to take it down and hide it from view while trying to get to sleep - they are bright.

10:55 a.m. on December 6, 2006 (EST)
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Re: UCO Original Candle Lantern - oops - where's that soapbox???

Ed - what do you do with the chemical light sticks when you're done? I'll admit they're handy and neat - but the environmentalist in me reacts to items like that like Dracula to a sunrise - you've got plastic wrapped around chemicals - if your local burns 'em you're releasing toxic fumes into the atmosphere - if it goes into a landfill eventually the plastic will break down and the chemicals will be released into the ground water -
Sorry to climb on a soapbox - and I don't mean to offend or question anyones ethics - but LNT - at least to me - doesn't just mean during my hike. For these same reasons I object to things like receiving a nylon or other petr-chemical fabric "welcome gift" from the Sierra Club - those items should be hemp or some other durable material that will either biodegrade on its own when its useful life is over.
The candle lanterns are the least offensive "on the trail" lighting to me - as you're consuming a natural compound that - even if dropped on the trail - will biodegrade in fairly short order and not release offensive chemicals into the ground.
Off the soap box now -


11:25 a.m. on December 6, 2006 (EST)
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Re: UCO Original Candle Lantern - oops - where's that soapbox???

gimme a break folkie. everything now a days comes in plastic. Besides, I'm sure your old Saab is more toxic to the environment than me taking lightsicks camping, so please step down from the soap box.

Do you use batteries when camping? More toxins in AAA batteries than in a light stick.

Do you use a flashlight? Plastic, steel and acid in there.

The chemical inside a lightstick is not toxic. It's mostly hydrogen peroxide. I have accidently tasted the liquid in a leaking chem light and no harm came to me.

When I'm done with the light stick, I cut it open and drain the liquid onto the ground so I have to carry less weight home. I then place the plastic tube in the trash can and it most likely goes into a landfill where it will remain forever.

To be honest, there are more toxic chemicals involved with making your guitar and electronic equipment than there is in a lightstick.

11:56 a.m. on December 12, 2006 (EST)
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I must be a bit off, but I have used mine in a tent countless times. I just hang mine from the loop in the ceiling. I bought one of the reflectors that help to shine the light down. I love the original enough that I bought the candelier.

9:56 p.m. on January 12, 2007 (EST)
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I just bought the UCO DUO L.E.D. Light Retrofit Kit to add to my candle lantern and it seems to work just fine. This way you don'thave to burn a candle in your tent, but have the candles for light when a campfire isn't allowed. http://www.campmor.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?productId=21754141

10:16 p.m. on January 14, 2007 (EST)
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Like Alan, I've used candle lanterns in tents, hung them from the ceiling loops, never a problem. The triple version (UCO Candlelier) actually will add a fair amount of warmth to a small, winter type tent.

Just don't go to sleep with one burning.

The only kind that were ever a problem are the tiny tealight versions, since the wax in the tealight cup becomes completely liquid and spills easily.

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