Review: UCO Mini Candle Lantern ('tea candles')

Kestrel

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Oct 31, 2007
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Having enjoyed the older-style spring-type candle lanterns when growing up, in recent years the low prices of single-use 'tea candles' have gotten my attention.

So I recently purchased one of these tea candle lanterns; UCO being the original manufacturer, based out of Seattle WA.

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My older telescoping brass "9 hour" candle lantern, for reference. US-Mfg, I seem to recall it being about $30 in the early 80's.
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Unfortunate that the newer ones are now China-mfg; I would have paid more than the current ~$18 at Amazon, but liking the classic UCO design, that isn't an option. :-/

The lantern kit included qty.4 candles, and the fleece bag. The reflector was purchased separately, for an additional $4.
 
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Kestrel

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Walking around the house, the flame was of course far more robust than an unshielded candle; this matches my prior experiences with UCO's overall mantle design. However, the pool of wax in the ~full aluminum cap is certainly precarious compared to their original lantern design.

I did a runtime test yesterday evening; 4hr 15min with one of the included 'pressed wax' candles - so performance was as-advertised.

I tried some late-night reading (Genesis chapters 1-9, for the sake of tradition); the illumination was insufficient with the candle lantern on my nightstand, but ample if I held the lantern relatively close to the pages. I will soon be installing a metal-framed headboard for my bed, and am hoping with the lantern suspended directly next to me for nighttime reading, it /might/ be sufficient. I will report with an update.

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One thing I was impressed with; virtually all of the candle wax had been consumed. Burning tea candles 'bare', often leaves a ring of cooler, still-solid wax around the bottom edge of the aluminum cup - and this behavior is greatly exacerbated when doing a limited-time burn & a subsequent relight at a later time. I will also be testing partial runs & will report back, but I am optimistic - the extra heat contained in the unit should liquify all wax & avoid this issue.

I also have a 200pk of tea candles incoming from Amazon, at $22 ea. They appear to be the 'cast' design, which some reviewers have preferred due to greater integrity of the wax slug. I will be seeing if they provide similar performance to the UCO tea candle.

Thank you for reading,
 
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scout24

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Dec 23, 2008
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Thanks, Kestrel! I run mine this morning in honor of your thread. Red one here, lol. One of the things I like most is being able to move about with it without worry of extinguishing it. We're expecting heavy snow here today, I hope it's not needed and just ambiance. The brass one in your initial post is sweet, by the way. 👍
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TPA

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Aug 26, 2005
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Florida
I have a few of the tea-light versions of these. I'm not all that thrilled with them to be honest. Not enough to get rid of them, but I rarely use them. I find their compact size and thick metalwork blocks much of the light. I prefer the Ikea tealight lanterns or just use a stemless wineglass or proper tealight holder if I need to block drafts.
 

cave dave

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Aug 15, 2001
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VA
They are also fully regulated!
The old spring style do add about 10 F Deg of warmth to a small 2 man tent but you have to hang them very carefully, and make a heat shield out of aluminum foil above the lantern to protect the tent.
 
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