Fires in communities that do not have access to electricity and therefore are dependent on candles, paraffin and other fuels, claim the lives of many every year – in the Western Cape, but also elsewhere in the country.

The Candle of Hope is a candle holder that prevents a fire when the candle is knocked over.

According to Prof Wikus van Niekerk, Director of the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies at Stellenbosch University, it seems as though the main cause of fires is candles that are put in empty cool drink bottles, saucers and other makeshift candle holders and then knocked over. Even most commercial candle holders cannot prevent a fire when a candle falls over.

“When the candle is knocked over the flame often comes in direct contact with the molten wax and causes the fire to spread fast,” Prof Van Niekerk explains. The safe candle holder, which is made from wire and steel plate, supports the candle and prevents the flame from making contact with the molten wax when it topples over.

More on the candle holder:

  • It is safe!  When the candleholder is knocked over the candle remains in the spiral and hence the flame and pool of molten wax is well separated preventing a fire from starting and spreading.
  • It is inexpensive!  The materials used in the manufacture, steel wire and plate, are inexpensive and readily available.  No special tools or machines are used to manufacture the candle-holders.
  • It creates work and economic opportunities!  As the manufacture is by hand it can easily be done by unskilled labour with very little training and facilities.  Furthermore, budding entrepreneurs can start their own enterprises based on this project with two distinct markets, one in the communities of the townships and rural areas and the other in the more affluent community that frequents curio stalls.
Candle of Hope

The Candle of Hope candle holder is the invention of Mr Conrad Stoffberg, a former student of the Paul Roos Gimnasium in Stellenbosch designed and created it for a Eskom Expo for Young Scientists when he was in grade 9. “At that stage there were numerous articles published in the media about shacks burning down due to candles falling over. I saw an opportunity to make a candle holder that could address this problem,” Mr Stoffberg, currently a candidate architect in Bloemfontein, explains. “It just goes to show, even if you look into something simple, the outcome could have a ripple effect beyond your wildest expectations.”


Dark shacks can get some daylight.

Corrugated roof sheeting can be cut so that clear plastic bottles can be inserted to provide solar light.

Here a cardboard box was used to demonstrate the effect of the light.



The Consol Solar Jar from South Africa provides light for 6 hours. A clever solar panel fitted onto the jar’s lid absorbs solar energy during the day and when the sun goes down, the little LED light inside the jar is ready to be switched on.

The Consol Solar Jar’s lid also acts as a switch that preserves the energy stored during the day. Once charged, the LED light will last for six hours before it needs a little extra juice.

Consol was honoured with the Special Recognition Award at the 2011 Institute of Packaging SA (IPSA) Gold Pack Awards ceremony – designed and developed by their own Ockert van Heerden and John Bexley. Although not strictly 'packaging' the judges decided this clever use of a packing material deserved an accolade.


One Response to “Lights”

Leave a Reply