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Sodium Tipped Storm Candles

For use in emergencies
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In the dark, when the power goes out, it is pretty durn hard to find those matches.

In fact, there was a big storm down here in Texas last night. Anyway, during that storm, someone I knew (not me) couldn't find the matches.

We need to fix this.

How about having the tip of the wick coated in sodium. Sodium combusts when it comes in contact with moisture (water). So all you'd have to do is lick your fingers and twist the wick. Poof, and it lights, reacting with the moisture from your fingers. Or you could run some water from the sink and dip the wick in that. Or spit on the wick. Or anything else involving water, which is very plentiful here on Earth. There are numerous ways to light this candle. The only problem I see is that the sodium could combust while in storage, and an easy way to fix that would be to vacuum-pack the candle, sealing it off from all moisture. Never stumble around looking for matches again.

DesertFox, Jun 02 2004

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       Glow in the dark candles, matchboxes, and flashlights are all available. Isn't that easy enough?
DrCurry, Jun 02 2004
  

       I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this idea could work. Of course, you don’t need water, because sodium will burn in contact with air alone (although touching a wet finger to it would be a nice piece of insanity). The metal infused wick would have to be wax coated (it usually is anyway). To ignite it you would simple cut it.

And we are indebted to DF for informing us that water "is very plentiful here on Earth." Undoubtedly, it is a rare thing where he comes from.
ldischler, Jun 02 2004
  

       Why not just remember where the matches are? And even better invest in those really big waterproof matches or a lighter.
PainOCommonSense, Jun 02 2004
  

       Hint:l3, vacuum packed = no oxygen.
DesertFox, Jun 02 2004
  

       And now DF says that a vacuum has no oxygen, which (after some study) seems to be correct. The only problem remaining is in that first paragraph. The rationale for this idea is that, when it is dark, it is hard to find the matches. So, why is it any easier to find the candles?
ldischler, Jun 02 2004
  

       If you had an old Soviet Hand Powered Flashlight then you could find both the candles and matches and probably wouldn't need them.   

       It is basically a really simple dynamo hooked up to a toothed handle. It looks just like a regular Flashlight or Torch. You pump the handle and the more nervous you are the brighter the light. Works best because there are no batteries to go flat or to run out in extreme cold or burst from heat. You can use it just the same as a regular torch so you already remember where you put it last time. Great to leave in the shed or summer house or whatever.
PainOCommonSense, Jun 02 2004
  

       What [l3lackie] said with [idischler] picking up on the same thing. Na is traditionally kept under oil in the classroom Chemistry lab and needs to be freshly cut to react with water.
Nevertheless this would never pass a COSHE assessment or receive a BS Kitemark (safety and fit for purpose kind of standard for non UKians). I'm with the Lumo version or the reserve draw with bell, book, candle and kindling for those day to day little emergencies.
Finally, my mobile phone generates enough light to see very well when all the lights are out. I dunno if that helps though.
gnomethang, Jun 02 2004
  

       some good thinking here DF, but i would worry about the safety, especially in vacuum packaging, a pin-prick or a scrape will break the vacuum and **poof** my pantry is smoking...
dentworth, Jun 02 2004
  

       If you are going to vacuum pack the candle, why not just coat the tip of the wick with white phosphorus? WP will combust instantly when exposed to air, so you wouldn't even have to spit on the candle to light it.
GenYus, Jun 02 2004
  

       make the candle with the wick fully covered snap off a section to ignite it.
engineer1, Jun 03 2004
  

       Like a Road Flare!
PainOCommonSense, Jun 03 2004
  

       <fondly remembers schoolfriend desperately trying to extinguish fire in school chemistry lab, as the teacher came marching along the corridor, after an ill advised experiment with a large lump of sodium and a sink full of water>
DrBob, Jun 03 2004
  

       I give bread because I like that 1: [DF] bothered to spellcheck this before posting 2: it sounds good. Maybe a sodium /magnesium mix - the sodium would light on touch, which in turn would light the magnesium. Magnesium is more stable so you could minimize the sodium. In the end this is basically a highway flare, not a candle.
bungston, Jun 03 2004
  

       A friend of mine's chemistry teacher once threw a pound of sodium into a lake. Apparently it was more spectacular than even the teacher had anticipated, but no harm done.
5th Earth, Jun 03 2004
  

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