Make Your Own Olive Oil Lamp

Need non-electric lighting for emergencies? With this simple project, you can make an olive oil lamp using common household materials.This olive oil lamp is fast and easy to make at home, and its a safe, reliable light to have around during power outages.

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i was wondering as well…..can you use olive oil in a regular oil lamp? i have a small one a friend gave me that ive never used…. should it be cleaned before i use it? will the olive oil work just the same?

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2. Take the other end of the wire and wrap it into a coil, creating a wick stand about an inch or two tall that sits on the bottom of the jar.

3. Pinch the top of the metal coil onto about 2 inches in length of wick so that about a quarter inch or less of the wick is sticking up above the wire coil. Any longer and the wick will smoke. The other end of the wick will be soaking in the olive oil.

You can make your own olive oil lamp using common household materials: a canning jar, wire, string and olive oil.

Want to get fancy with your olive oil lamp? You can infuse your olive oil with herbs, spices or essential oils for a more scented experience.

For your wick, you can use 100 percent cotton string or twine and salt it to ensure that it burns long. To salt your wick, take your cotton twine, put it in a bowl with a little water and then cover with table salt. Squeeze it dry and let it dry overnight, or until it is no longer damp.

EVOO for lamp oil!!! MY -o- MY!!! That must be extremely expensive unless you mash your own home grown olives. There are many less expensive alternatives unless there is no alternative at the very instant when you need it at the last of the last resorts. The lamp idea, however, is an excellent idea and a good one to keep in mind for emergencies. …Tom…

These are such great light, we use them at medieval re-enacting events (tho not with canning jars) Theyre inexpensive, charming, smell decent, and are about as safe as you can get with flame based lighting. The olive oil reservoir never gets hot enough to injure, and the volatility of olive oil is low enough that a spilled lamp will have a VERY hard time starting a fire. Generally it just makes a mess. Another great wick source are cotton rag mop heads, a $5 mop will yield . . .well. . .more wick than you will EVER use. 2 other good additions to the olive oil lamp are that if you use a bale around the top and hang it, you get wonderful light from below, which is something candles just cannot do. Also, a layer of water under the olive oil will allow you to vary the level of the wick, as 2-3 inches is about all the draw you will get on oil in our experience. The added benefit is that the lamp will put itself out safely in the water once the fuel is exhausted.

Hi there! I was really inspired by this article to make my own oil lamp, so heres the link to some pictures! I did some modifications to the lamp by adding water and a flotation device for the wick. Would love to hear comments!

will olive oil work in an old fashion hurricane lamp?

I use the plans at to build my own I highly recommend you visit that website and check their plans out too. They are detailed and super easy to read and understand unlike several others I found online. The amount of plans there is mind-boggling theres like 16,000 plans or something like that for tons of different projects. Definitely enough to keep me busy with projects for many more years to come haha. Go to if you want some additional plans 🙂

V. cool! We have blackouts every year or two when hurricanes roll through, and I think this will be very useful. (-: Candles do not provide much light at all, but you can double the light by placing a mirror behind the flame. I bet the mirror trick would work with your olive oil lamps, too. Thanks so much for posting this!

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Ive looked it up, and it seems that olive oil will not burn properly in a regular lamp that is designed to use lamp oil. The viscosity is too high, and so it will not climb the wick fast enough to maintain the flame. Instead, the wick itself will burn. Lehmans is a retailer that sells a line of lamps designed for olive oil. Id think that a standard oil-burning lamp could be modified to work with olive oil, perhaps by inserting an alternate fuel can that is flatter and closer to the end of the wick. Such an aftermarket modification could be an interesting and useful addition to this thread.

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We have been using an olive oil lamp (purchased from Lehmanns) for about three years. We love it as we live simply, off the grid and it is used nightly for illumination. Now, we need several more and quite frankly cant afford to purchase so many so I googled Oil lamps and found this wonderful tutorial. Thank you for sharing. Namaste, Hip Hillbilly Farm bunch

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Have you used or built an olive oil lamp? Share your experiences by posting a comment below.

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To make the lamp, you form one end of the wire into a hook that fits over the edge of the jar, and the other into a small coil that wraps around the wick.

Thanks to everyone for their additional comments and help. Mark D. – You can certainly use stale vegetable oil, but it tends to stink more than olive oil and might smoke a little more as well. As Daniel mentioned, I dont believe that you can burn olive oil in a regular hurricane lamp due to the wicking issues. Using the wider hurricane lamp wicks in the canning jar (just adjust the wire to fit the larger size) would result in a much brighter flame.

There are hand-crank and battery-powered lanterns, but what if you dont already have one on hand when a power outage strikes? The same problem exists if youre looking for a kerosene or other oil-style lamp. So, what do you do during an emergency for light? How about something that is easy to acquire, inexpensive and gentle on the environment?

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Making your lamp is relatively easy, and most likely you will have many of the materials on hand already. Heres what youll need:

Olive oil lamps have been used for thousands of years and people have relied on oil lamps in general up until the last few generations. They are reliable, plus they burn bright and long. The benefit of olive oil is that if the lamp gets knocked over, it stops burning because it has a high flash point, meaning that its not a very flammable material. As a result, an olive oil lamp is far safer than a candle or kerosene lantern. If you are having problems with it smoking when you blow it out, use wet fingers to put out the flame, or just douse it with the oil in the jar.

followed to the letter but not work. burns the wick in seconds then goes out

14 years ago myself and four kids started over on 40 acres and a tent. We used the olive oil lamps. They were great, if they fell over, they went out. I tried several times to light the oil on the tables without the lamp and it would not burn. It was safe and smelled decent. I now have a wonderful husband of 12 years, a large house on our homestead, a wonderful life away from the rat race. On our way to self sufficiency. Suzanne

4. Add enough olive oil to your jar so that the level is just under where the wick is pinched by the wire. Any higher and you risk putting out the lamp with the oil.

1. Form one end of the steel wire into a long hook, about the same height as the jar. This hook holds the wire on the jar and doubles as a handle to pull the wick up for lighting. (See photos in the Image Gallery.)

If this all seems a bit too complicated to manufacture on your own and you would rather buy an olive oil lamp, youll find old fashioned oil lamps online fromLehmans. Be sure to check out the bookI Didnt Know That Olive Oil Would Burn!while you are at it.

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I have made these lamps with canning jars, but I just used the lid with the ring that comes with the canning jar. I poked a little hole in the lid and pull the wick up through the hole. At Christmas we submerge a little christmas greenery and cranberries in there for a festive look! They work great!

Hello, and how great it is to find your website. I Googled for an olive oil lamp and found a goldmine!!

I like it. Is pure simplicity and seems safe enough when used with a dose of common sense. One neat thing with the canning jar is that the lid can be plopped on the top to snuff it out.

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Looks like something to try. I have used olive oil extensively in candle making. Also have rendered tallow from beef, pork, and lamb for candles and other uses. Im wondering.. will the mophead strands make candle wicks?

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I am so glad that I found this article! I live on the Oregon coast and blackouts are routine. I will definitely be passing this on.

Interesting article! I already use a candle like this. But not because of hurricanes, there are not any in Romania, but for religious purposes. But here, the Eastern Orthodox people use it as votive candle. Many years ago it was used for practical purposes too. It gives a very warm and mild light and it gives one a very peaceful mind and it is very good for writers and poets, it gives inspiration. Really!If you want to write a poem and you dont find inspiration, turn off the electric light and fire an oil candle. Youll see the effect. I never used olive oil though. But I use sun seed oil instead. Cold pressed oil is better because the light stays long and it doesnt spoil fast. I use a small floating holder for the wick. It floats at the surface of the oil and it has hole in it where is the lighted wick.

The answer is you can make your own olive oil lamp. You dont need much in the way of equipment and if you dont have olive oil, you can replace it with other types of cooking oil  or any kind of liquid fat or grease in a pinch. However, I must warn you that while olive is a 99 percent pure renewable fuel that wont produce smoke or odor, I cant vouch for canola or corn oil as being smoke-free or that it wont make the house smell like burnt popcorn.

oh and it does smoke and produce odours.

The olive oil is drawn up the wick where it vaporizes and gets burned by the flame. A few ounces of oil will burn for several hours, so if you are concerned about the cost, it is much cheaper than most candles. If you can find lampante oil (olive oil not suitable for eating, but for burning), you can save money by buying that instead of culinary olive oil.

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One of the benefits of using a canning jar is that, when the oil lamp is not in use, you can put a canning lid on top for storage. A wide-mouthed pint jar will also work well, you just need to adjust the size of the wick holder.

Can I use stale vegetable oil instead of olive oil?

Is it possible to use olive oil in a regular oil lamp? I have 7 of them like the one pictured here. and would like to use them. They have been cleaned of all traces of oil lamp oil and have new wicks installed.

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A wide-mouthed glass jar (a quart-size wide-mouthed canning jar works really well)

If you need or want your lamp to emit more light, try using a braided, flat wick (a half inch or narrower), adjusting the way the wire supports this kind of wick by crimping it to accommodate the extra girth. You can buy flat wicks from stores that carry supplies for oil lamps (such asLehmans). Or, you can cut up an old 100 percent cotton tea towel into strips and use that instead.

A short length of flexible steel wire (1 1/2 or 2 times the height of the jar)

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Ive been using olive oil to light our way for years. I made my lamps using mason jar glasses with handles so we can move the lights without touching anything that may be hot. Ive invested in a roll of wicking material from a craft store that has lasted a long time. I put a small shelf in every room to hold the jar-lamp so it would never compete with living space for added security. I take off the ring, leaving the lid and wick in place and cover each jar with a plastic lid that can be purchased during canning season. Regular and wide mouth are available. This is for safety during the day while my children play and for storage.

If you live in an area that frequently experiences power outages due to hurricanes, high winds and other storms, one of the things you want to have on hand during storm season is backup lighting. Candles are a sure bet, but they dont put out much light and  if you want to choose options made from renewable, organic materials  beeswax and soy candles can get mighty expensive.

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