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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