How To Make An Olive Oil Lantern

Discussion in 'General Preparedness Discussion' started by IrritatedWithUS, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. IrritatedWithUS

    IrritatedWithUS Well-Known Member

    Olive oil lamps are a great natural alternative to regular paraffin candles and kerosene lanterns. Paraffin candles and kerosene are both toxic when burned and are byproducts of the petroleum refining industry. Olive oil, however, burns clean and very slowly. Burning an olive oil lantern is less costly than using electricity and can save you money. They are also great for camping. Here's how to make your own easy olive oil lantern.



    You will need a clear glass container to make into a lamp. It should be at least three inches wide to keep from getting hot.
    I prefer to use a handled glass mug or a large glass mason jar with a handle on the side so that the lantern can be carried easily from room to room. Any glass jar will do, however. If you want your lantern to be portable for hiking or camping, you can use a short wide-mouthed jar with a tight-fitting lid. This will make it easy for you to pack up your lantern with the oil still inside and take it anywhere with you.


    You will also need a wick. You can use wicking made for a kerosene lantern, or you can make your own wick. I prefer to make my own by cutting a thin strip of fabric from a cotton t-shirt that is ¼ inch wide and about 3 inches long. Your wick must be 100% cotton or it will not burn. Other materials can be extremely toxic to burn.

    The wick must be supported by some type of lead-free wire. I use 24 gauge craft wire or thicker. You can also use wire from an uncoated coat hanger or other type of craft wire. If you have fairly thick wire, you can make a handle for your wick which will help make it easier to light, but is not necessary.

    To make a wick holder, coil a four or five inch long piece of wire into a spiral that is as wide as the inside of the bottom of the glass jar. You should be able to set it flat inside and turn the jar side to side and the wire should stay centered in the jar fairly well. Pull the center part of the spiral up so that when laid flat on a surface, the center stands up about an inch high. If you have thicker wire, you can make the end of the spiral extra long for a handle. Just add enough wire to the end of it to reach the top of the jar once the wire is set inside.


    Make a small loop at the center of the spiral and insert one end of the wick into the hole. Crimp the loop around the wick so that it is just tight enough to hold it up. You should have about 1/8 inch of wick standing
    up above the wire loop. The rest of the wick should dangle down below the loop under the coil.

    Place the wick and wire down inside the bottom of your oil lamp. Now you are ready to add the olive oil.


    Only extra virgin olive oil should be used. It seems expensive, but burns very slowly so it is less expensive than many alternatives. You should be able to find it at any grocery store. Pour the oil down into the lamp just so that it is high enough to touch the top of the wire spiral at the base of the wick. Your wick should stick out above the top of the oil about 1/8 inch. Be sure that you wet the entire wick with oil.


    Never blow out your olive oil lamp. It will create lots of acrid smelling black smoke. Instead, jostle your lamp slightly so that oil is swished over the flame to extinguish it or find a safer method. When used correctly, your olive oil lamp will give off no smell at all or it will smell faintly of olive oil. There should be no unpleasant scent or smoke. If your lamp begins to smoke or the flame becomes too high, add more olive oil to the lamp so that it is refilled to its original level.
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    Last edited: Jan 14, 2011
  2. BasecampUSA

    BasecampUSA Sr. Homesteader

    Yeah, if you are generating electricity with Bacardi 151 or Wild Turkey...

    With virgin olive oil going for $41.00 a gallon, I'll stick to kerosene, it's only $3.31 a gallon.

    Oh, wait, sorry - you said Extra-virgin... that goes for $63.00 a gallon...

    Thanks anyway ;)

    - Basey

    Hmmm... maybe he's rich :rolleyes:

  3. IrritatedWithUS

    IrritatedWithUS Well-Known Member

    I'm not hinting to use all olive oil lamps. A few of those lamps would be cool. I find it nice to make your own things. And in terms of being "green", olive oil is the way to go as opposed to stricktly kerosene. It's nice to know there is an alternative.
  4. JayJay

    JayJay Well-Known Member

    Why do I have to make something?? Why can't I use the 3 oil lanterns I have with my supplies??
  5. JayJay

    JayJay Well-Known Member


    Let's all strive to go green while Al and Nancy fly in their jumbo jets twice a week???
  6. IrritatedWithUS

    IrritatedWithUS Well-Known Member

    Hmmm, I just wanted to show people a different alternative to lanterns.
  7. drhwest

    drhwest Junior Member

    I think it's an interesting idea. Two thousand years ago it was commonly used as lamp fuel. I think I'll try it just for the novelty of it. You can get 1.3 gal.(5L) at Sam's Club for $22.

    I think it is a wise thing to go green. Petrochemical products will only get more expensive as the years go by. I believe that Peak Oil is a real issue and I see my children dealing with a world with dwindling oil supplies.
  8. The_Blob

    The_Blob performing monkey

    it's a nice thought, Irritated, there are plenty of food & non-food oil producing plants with better fuel-oil yields for your purposes tho... it is unfortunate that most of the well-meaning people involved in many 'greenovations' have had their efforts misdirected by corrupt (I believe Algore was mentioned) sociopolitical puppetmasters and channeled into the least efficient/effective avenues of study, while better, less mainstream processes are scoffed at until 'proven'.

    List of vegetable oils - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    has good list to start any research with, it is by no means exhaustive or to be considered research in & of itself
  9. nj_m715


    Man, rough crow around here. There's no need to buy the oil or use any special type of oil. For this purpose veggie is veggie. I made two last month with my son after someone here posted a link when I asked about making candle wax. All of the parts were already laying around in the basement, so you could say they are free lanterns. You can burn used or waste cooking oil making the fuel free.
    Why not just use your 3 lamps you already have? Maybe you need to light more rooms, maybe your neighbor or family needs light, maybe you want to cook ramen noodles or instant coffee, maybe you dropped one of your lamps and broke it. It's always nice to have more options.
    A very fast simple way to make one is to use a 1/4 or 5/16 nut as the wick holder. Just put a couple short pieces of string into the nut and pull them about 1/4 through. The long ends get fanned out on the bottom of the mason jar. Add oil and keep it just below the top of the nut.
  10. nj_m715


    It's just the same as you described, but here's the link:

    Originally Posted by nj_m715
    That's what I was thinking Sue, but I just can't find anything ( I'm normally pretty good w/ google key words). If veg oil can burn in a wick lantern and soap is just veg oil with a little lye... who knows? I'm half tempted to stick a wick in some home made soap to see what happens. 200 yrs ago everyone had candles. I don't think it all came from bees. That's a lot of hives to tend.

    Bunny, I found a good book at Sam's about preserving food from your garden. Covers freezing, dehydrating, root cellars etc. Tons of info for only $6.
    With a heat proof jar some wire and wicking you can make a nice veggy oil lamp.
    Homemade Vegetable Oil Lamp
    I've done it with olive oil and a bit of cotton from a cotton ball.
    Olive oil doesn't seem to wick up too far so I did have to adjust the hight of the wick in the oil but it burns clean and doesn't smell funny.
  11. OldCootHillbilly

    OldCootHillbilly Reverend Coot

    Not ta hijack the thread er nothin, but Blob, will used, filtered veggie oil work to? I've heard some folks use it in there oil lamps so I would think it would work in this application to wouldn't it?

    I got gallons a used veggie oil, would be another use fer it.

    Never hurts ta have alternatives.
  12. nj_m715


    Oil is oil, some will thicken at 40 degrees and some will still pour at 30 but it all burns.
  13. Sonnyjim

    Sonnyjim Prepping

    I agree. Infact I just watched a few vids on youtube where there are olive oil lanterns from 'Lehmans' that can also use other oils. This means that people that make their own oils at home from corn or soy or whatever it may be would be a good self sufficiency oil to have because they could then power their own light. Thanks for this link, infact it could even be made a sticky. This is good info to have.
  14. Marlowe

    Marlowe New Member

    You could probably put that same veg oil into a standard hurricane-style oil lamp and it should work fine. If SHTF, you might be making a lamp out of whatever you can find.

    To keep the cost down, and since olive oil is reusable, I should think this lamp would work with used olive oil, correct? No need to use new oil necessarily.
  15. Idaholady

    Idaholady Member

    Check out Lehman's website for olive oil lamps. I purchased one to see how the coil was made to hold the wick. Lamps/Lights*|*Olive Oil Lamps -

    And, I'd like to make my own oil and found this website: PITEBA oil press oil expeller oliepers oilpress : universal oil press for nuts and seed They are in the Netherlands and you'd have to go to your bank to figure out the EU value and US values.

    I want to grow sunflowers and expell the oil from the seeds; but if you look at the website, you can use nuts and other items as well.

    Or just do some research on the Internet for "oil expellers.'

    Look, here is another website:

    It's really a fun challenge to see how you can be more self-sufficent.
  16. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Well-Known Member

    $140 plus shipping and duties. :)

    And here's an article to get you started on pressing your own oil from sunflower seeds.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2011
  17. BasecampUSA

    BasecampUSA Sr. Homesteader

    Been there, tried that... NOPE...

    Hurricane lamps and lanterns don't do well with veggie oils... and you will probably wreck an expensive Alladin-type kerosene lamp.

    When you find that out for yourself, you can then remove the wick, wash it out in gas (or solvent), dry it, put it back, and then fill the lamp with kerosene like it was intended.

    Veggie oils just don't saturate long wicks as well as petroleum, so the wick "starves" for fuel (due to lack of capillary action) at the flame level and goes out after a few minutes.

    That is why ancient lamps made for olive oil were made low and shallow, so the wicks wouldn't have to stick up more than 1/4" or so...

    Check it out ==> WWF: Oil Lamps

    I have one of these ancient types made of brass, -but I'll keep my expensive olive oil for the salad ;)

    - Basey

    "It was the responsibility of the woman of the house to keep the lamp burning day and night.
    Between trimming the wick and filling the lamp, it seems reasonable to assume that these duties
    would be done several times per night." (link above) :congrat: :kiss: :D
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2011
  18. horseman09

    horseman09 Well-Known Member

    Irritated, thanks for the post. I prolly won't be making the lamp anytime soon, but info is info. Never know when it might come in handy. After all, we are preppers.

    Frankly, I am a little irritated that some members on our "friendly" forum pounced on you simply for sharing some info.
  19. BasecampUSA

    BasecampUSA Sr. Homesteader

    No problem... very interesting! I have experimented with olive oil myself.

    I'm always concerned with the economics of things.

    If I had an olive grove, it would be practical.

    If I had an oil well, that would be practical.

    I have grown canola oil here on the farm and used it as biodiesel in a tractor and a generator.
    But canola won't burn in a regular lamp... only my ancient style brass "genie" lamp works with olive/veggie oils.

    Sorry if I was the one who came across as "pouncing" :eek: ;)

    - Basey
  20. Idaholady

    Idaholady Member

    Thanks UncleJoe for the article on sunflowers and expelling the oil. I'm too lazy and DH is not skilled in those matters, I continue to search for an affordable oil expeller...