Essential Lighting Alternatives For Survival Purposes

Survival generally refers to the capacity to remain alive in dangerous circumstances where the possibility of death is high. While outdoor activities can be a great way to unwind, unforeseen events such as injuries or becoming lost in the wilderness can occur. That’s why it’s essential to have a fundamental understanding of survival. One of the most critical components of survival is having dependable lighting alternatives. Limited visibility can be a significant risk factor during outdoor activities, and having a reliable source of light can be crucial in life-or-death situations. In this article, we will focus on essential lighting alternatives for survival purposes.

guide to selecting survival gears

Types of Lighting Alternatives


Flashlights are a reliable source of lighting and come in a range of models, from basic and inexpensive to the ones designed specifically for survival situations. They emit a one-directional beam, which makes them less useful for illuminating large spaces, but they can help provide focused, long-range lighting.


  • Flashlights are affordable and widely available
  • Provide a one-directional beam, making them useful for focused lighting
  • High-lumen flashlights offer bright lighting
  • Compact and easy to carry
  • Versatile and can be used for a variety of tasks


  • They are not ideal for illuminating larger spaces
  • May require someone to hold them
  • Can run out of batteries quickly and need to be replaced


Lanterns have a rich history dating back to ancient times and have undergone significant advancements. They are no longer limited to camping trips and are also useful in emergencies to provide illumination during power outages and assist in navigation. 


  • Provide a reliable source of lighting in emergencies, such as power outages
  • Can aid in navigation during dark conditions
  • The best survival lanterns are versatile and durable enough to handle any situation


  • Some lanterns may not be innovative or may be purely decorative, rather than functional
  • Depending on the fuel type, lanterns may require regular maintenance, such as refilling fuel or replacing batteries



While flashlights and lanterns may come to mind, candles can also be a useful component of any disaster preparedness kit. However, it’s essential to note that not all candles are created equal. For example, regular candles may flicker or spill wax, causing a mess or even creating a fire hazard. In contrast, high-quality candles made with the right materials can burn slowly, providing reliable light without any flickering or mess.


  • Light source: Candles can provide a reliable source of light when there is no electricity or other light sources available. They are especially useful in small spaces such as tents or small rooms.
  • Heat source: Candles can also provide some heat in a small area.
  • Cooking: In a survival situation, candles can be used to heat food or water for drinking or cooking. This is especially useful if you do not have access to a stove or other cooking equipment.
  • Signal: Candles can also be used as a signal if you are lost or in need of rescue. The light from a candle can be seen from a distance, especially at night.
  • Easy to carry: Candles are lightweight and easy to carry. They take up very little space in a survival kit and can be a valuable addition to your emergency supplies.


  • Limited burn time: Candles have a limited burn time and will eventually run out. Depending on the size of the candle, it may only burn for a few hours.
  • Fire hazard: Candles can be a fire hazard, especially if they are not used properly. They should never be left unattended and should be placed on a stable surface away from anything flammable.
  • Fragile: Candles fragile and easily damaged. If you are traveling with them, you will need to take care to protect them from breaking.
  • Smoke and soot: Candles produce smoke and soot, which can be irritating to breathe and can damage surfaces.
  • Dependence on flame: Candles require an open flame to work, which means they are dependent on having a lighter or matches to start them. If you lose your lighter or matches, you will not be able to use your candles.

Oil Lamps 


Oil lamps have been in use for thousands of years as a source of continuous light by burning oil-based fuel. While they may not be as common in modern times, they remain a handy tool in adverse weather, power outages, and outdoor survival situations. It is important to have them as part of your emergency kit and to use them safely. 


Glowsticks, also known as light sticks or snap lights, are a safe and reliable source of light during power outages, evacuations, severe weather, and other emergencies. They are activated by bending, breaking, and shaking the plastic casing, which mixes the chemicals inside to create instant light. Glow Sticks have a long shelf life and are a safer alternative to candles and road flares, as they do not produce flames or heat. They are easy to use, making them useful for marking hazards and triage areas at night. 

Types Of Bulbs And Lighting Sources 

Led Rechargeable Bulbs 


LED rechargeable bulbs operate like regular bulbs when connected to a power source, but also contain a rechargeable battery that charges while the switch is on. In the event of a power outage, they can provide two to eight hours of light, depending on the bulb. However, it’s important to consider the charging time required for each bulb, as some that claim to last longer may require a longer time to fully charge.

Solar Powered Lights 

A solar-powered light is an useful tool in survival prep arsenal. These lights can be charged using solar energy, making them a reliable source of light even in remote areas without access to electricity. They are also lightweight and portable, making them an excellent addition to any survival kit.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Lighting Alternatives

Purpose Of The Lighting 

Choosing the appropriate alternative lighting source is vital whether you need it for specific tasks or emergencies. A bright and reliable flashlight is necessary for tasks such as reading, working in low-light conditions, or repairing equipment. For emergencies, candles and lanterns can also work, are cost-effective and widely available. Lanterns offer a safer alternative with electric, battery-powered, and fuel-powered options.

It is important to consider factors such as durability, ease of use, and the type of lighting needed when choosing an alternative lighting source. Conducting thorough research and evaluating your specific requirements will help you find the appropriate alternative lighting source that meets your needs.

Brightness And Range Needed 

When selecting an alternative lighting source for survival situations, it is important to consider the brightness and range of the light. For instance, LED rechargeable lights are appropriate for larger spaces, while candles can be a cost-effective option for illuminating small areas. 

Durability And Reliability 

When searching for an alternative lighting source,durability is an important consideration. Additionally, select a product that has low maintenance requirements to ensure hassle-free usage.

Power Source 

When considering an alternative lighting source for survival situations, it is necessary to take into account the power source. There are many different power sources available, including batteries, solar, and hand-cranked flashlights, that may be suitable for different survival situations.

Solar power is a sustainable and reliable source for lighting, especially in remote locations. Solar panels can generate electricity whenever the sun is out. On the other hand, hand-cranked flashlights are ideal for outdoor enthusiasts and emergencies, as they allow you to generate electricity using your muscle power.

Size and portability

Look for lighting sources that are compact and easy to carry, such as handheld flashlights, lanterns, and headlamps. These types of lighting sources are designed to be lightweight and

durable, making them ideal for outdoor activities or emergencies. Flashlights, for example, come in a range of sizes and can easily fit into a backpack or pocket, so you can take them with you wherever you go.


When selecting a lighting source for survival purposes, the cost is a significant consideration. Comparing prices and reading reviews about different brands is also a good way to ensure that you are getting the best value for your investment. By doing so, you can find an alternative lighting source that meets your needs and fits within your budget.

Creating Makeshift Lighting Alternatives

Olive Oil Lamp

In situations where an electrical grid is not available, it can be beneficial to create makeshift alternatives. A surprising option for this is to repurpose empty sardine containers that are packed in olive oil. By inserting a natural fiber wick, such as cotton string, into the oil, it will absorb the liquid and can be ignited to create a makeshift lamp. 

While the scent of fish may be noticeable, the lamp can provide hours of lighting in emergencies. It is also easy to refill with any available cooking oil. With the use of commonly found household items like sardine containers and natural fiber wicks, anyone can create a makeshift lighting alternative.

Crayon Candle

To create makeshift lighting, another option is to use crayons to make a candle. As crayons contain wax, lighting the paper label at the end of a broken crayon point can quickly produce a candle that can last for approximately 30 minutes. 

For a more long-lasting solution, strip the labels of three crayons, place a natural fiber wick like a piece of t-shirt material between them, and use two short pieces of wire or paper clips to secure them together. The resulting “Crayndle” can burn for up to an hour and provide a practical emergency lighting option. 


Having reliable lighting alternatives is crucial in survival prep, whether it’s during natural disasters, power outages, or emergencies. In this article, we have covered various types of lighting alternatives such as flashlights, lanterns, candles, and bulbs, and the advantages and disadvantages of each. When choosing a lighting alternative, it’s important to consider factors such as the purpose of the lighting, brightness, range needed, durability and reliability, power source, size and portability, and cost. Additionally, knowing how to create makeshift lighting alternatives can be helpful in a pinch. 

Overall, it’s recommended to have multiple sources of reliable lighting alternatives and essential survival gear readily available in case of an emergency and to periodically check and maintain them to ensure they are in good working condition.