Introduction: ChapStick LED Flashlight

Picture of ChapStick LED Flashlight

This is an instructable on how to make a flashlight out of a ChapStick tube. After reading up on multiple LED instructables I thought it would be neat to make an original design that had not been done before. Since button cell batteries can be expensive, I went with an A23 (12V) battery that cost less than $2.00 for two.

Step 1: What You'll Need:

Picture of What You'll Need:

ChapStick Tube
Tactile Switch
A23 Battery (12V)
470-Ohm Resistor
10mm White LED (28,500mcd, 20mA, 3.5V)
Heat Shrink Tubing
"N" Battery Holder
J-B Weld

Step 2: Soldering the LED & Resistor

Picture of Soldering the LED & Resistor

Cut the negative lead of the LED to 1/4" and solder the resistor to it. Shrink some heat shrink tubing over it and put both leads through the top of the ChapStick platform.

Step 3: Completing the Top Section

Picture of Completing the Top Section

Cut the spring from the "N" battery holder (leaving the plastic portion it's attached to intact), and cut a 1/4" section from the bottom portion of the ChapStick. Insert the 1/4" section into the bottom of the platform, (this will help to make the base of the spring more stable. Slide the positive lead of the LED through the center of the spring, solder it to the base of the spring and then clip any remaining portion of the lead off.

Step 4: The Switch

Picture of The Switch

Cut a square in the bottom portion large enough to put the tactile switch through. Position the switch to where the button sticks out just slightly past the bottom. After it's in place, J-B Weld the back side (the portion that goes up into the tube). After the J-B Weld dries, you can trim it up with a razor blade.

Step 5: Wiring the Switch

Picture of Wiring the Switch

Scrape any remaining J-B Weld from the terminals of the tactile switch and solder a piece of wire to one end. In the picture shown, I had soldered the wire prior to putting J-B Weld over the switch, but either way will work. Cut a piece of plastic from the "N" battery holder (or anything else you happen to have lying around) and a piece of metal (I used a speaker terminal connector) to solder the other end of the tactile switch to. (You can actually use the bottom of the "N" battery holder for this portion. I messed mine up in the first attempt so I came up with this.) Super-glue the piece of plastic in the center of the leads of the tactile switch, (this will keep the base that the battery sits on from touching the other side of the tactile switch.) Solder the metal piece in place. (The plastic will probably melt a bit, but just make sure it doesn't prevent the bottom of the battery from making contact with metal portion.)

Step 6: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

Put the top portion with the LED (finished in step 3) into the top of the ChapStick tube and push it all the way down until the wire is exposed. Cut the wire attached to the tactile switch short enough to where the length from the spring to the bottom portion is slightly less than the length of the battery when soldered. (This will force the battery to be slightly compressed against the spring and the base when inserted into the tube so that it will make good contact.) Solder the wires together and cover with heat shrink tubing. Slowly push the battery into the tube (which will raise the platform to the top) and snap the bottom of the tube in place and you're done.

Step 7: Let There Be Light!

Picture of Let There Be Light!

If everything has gone according to plan, you should have light when you press down on the tactile switch.

And there you have it, the world's first ChapStick flashlight


biofox made it! (author)2016-10-30

Great Project! I might make another now that I am more comfortable with the design. This one didn't turn out as clean as I wanted.

BCat (author)biofox2016-11-06

Thank you, and thanks for sharing yours!

goldgriffin05 (author)2016-10-03

I also used a 3d printed end piece.

goldgriffin05 made it! (author)2016-10-03

Cool project. I actually made this at the maker faire. works great! Thanks for the idea.

Pablokeller (author)2016-02-16

Incredible project

cth173 (author)2016-02-02

This is a great project I made with my students at school. I was wondering if anyone has any ideas for cutting the hole in the bottom for the switch? Mine always end up sloppy.

BCat (author)cth1732016-02-07

A drill-press might help, or possibly a dremel. Either way it's a little tough with it being so small.

cth173 (author)2016-02-02

This is a great project I made with my students at school. I was wondering if anyone has any ideas for cutting the hole in the bottom for the switch? Mine always end up sloppy.

KateM7 (author)2015-08-17

Hey, I was just wonder how to take the pieces of the ChapStick tube apart, if I could have some help that would be great.

BCat made it! (author)KateM72015-08-30

It can be tricky for sure. I've seen 2 different styles; 1 style snaps out fairly easy (pictured) by inserting a knife and prying slightly, the other style is more difficult/stubborn but is removed in the same fashion. You just have to be careful about messing up the tail-cap. Good luck!

حمدىش (author)2015-08-29

gooooooooood ... thanks

DouglasS2 (author)2015-07-18

the chapstick pocket flashlight is kit so i can buy one

BCat (author)DouglasS22015-07-26

Sorry, I picked up my of my supplies at a local Radio Shack and they are now out of business.

obscura (author)2015-03-01

I made a sonic screwdriver using 2 Chapstick tubes and a dried out marker. I think when I remake it I'll make the bottom tube into a flashlight

Aelle-bea21 (author)2015-02-06

What should I replace Chapstick? We do not have Chapstick here.

phiddensices (author)2014-07-17

nice project. I "invented" something similar in medical school in 1995. The equivalent of a doctor's pen light, used two chapstick tubes, small incandescent bulb and battery.

dikshas13 (author)2014-05-02

could we use other glues??

BCat (author)dikshas132014-05-26

Absolutely. I would think any epoxy-type glue would work.

shinybluestuds made it! (author)2014-03-23

Woohoo! Thank you for this instructable - this was a great intro to Soldering 101. I love my tiny flashlight.

zackboston (author)2013-12-17

Our Eek! Electronics Explorers Klub in Boston chose this as their intro to electronics project and all of them successfully completed their flashlight! Thanks so much from the Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn Program. . .

jrivas527 (author)2013-06-16

i can't find a 10 mm led light at radio shack. is it possible to use a 5mm led light with the 470 ohm resistor? can it take 12v?

BCat (author)jrivas5272013-06-17

This is a good instructable to help you with your question:

Adambowker98 (author)2012-04-03

So, in step 5.... I didn't understand the instructions. Could you explain them a little better? I really want to build this.

BCat (author)Adambowker982012-04-05

What portion of the step are you needing further explanation on?

Adambowker98 (author)BCat2012-04-05

I don't understand what you are putting on the bottom and what you are doing.

BCat (author)Adambowker982012-04-06

I just put a little piece of plastic down, between the two terminals of the tactile switch and soldered a metal tab (on top of the plastic) to one of the terminal connections on the tactile switch. Be careful because the plastic piece can melt. (This is the portion that the negative side of the battery will rest on.) The other terminal of the tactile switch has a piece of wire soldered to it (which you should actually do first.)

Clear as mud?

Adambowker98 (author)BCat2012-04-06

But what good is the plastic between the two terminals?

BCat (author)Adambowker982012-04-06

It raises the metal tab up to make contact with the bottom of the battery and keeps it from making contact with the other terminal.

stormy0314 (author)2010-12-07

Could you use a voltage regulator instead of a resistor. I am just getting started in electronics and am not sure of all the substitutions.

Adambowker98 (author)stormy03142012-04-06

Maybe, but I think the resistor would work better for this project anyways considering its size.

BasicCarl1 (author)2011-12-10

can u use LED christmas lights? (the small ones)

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Venemot (author)2011-04-16

Just letting you guys know a23 batteries have 8 1.5 volt button cells

kieperm (author)2011-04-03

This is a great project. I started to tear apart the 12v battery and putting only 3 cells together. This way I don't need a resistor and save some $$ on the battery. Now if I could find a tool the would cut the 5mm square hole for the switch I could make these a little faster for some friends and Family.

kieperm (author)2010-10-23

me and my daughter thought this would be a fer cool project to try out. I we are using the ( as our switch and since it has 4 posts on it I am not 100% sure how to wire it up so it will work. Any help would be great thanks

leggomylegoeggo (author)kieperm2011-04-03

I believe the posts opposite each other are connected. as long as you connect posts that aren't directly opposite, it should work.

Flying_MashedPotatoes (author)2011-03-23

This might have been said already (or something similar) but what if you picked up a cheap scanning radio from the dollar store and attach the volume wheel to the spinning end of the chaptick? then you have light brightness controll; perfect for looking during the night without waking up ur wife. (lulz i dont have wife though, me only 18)

arukaen (author)2009-02-04

Im new to the whole electronics hobby scene. Im trying todo this as my first project. So far I've failed horribly lol. I bought 2 LEDs one that I soldered and I think in my soldering screwed it up because it wont turn on when I connect it to my electronics lab kit. Then second one turned on but blew out. -_-

jaketheman987 (author)arukaen2010-11-10

You need to use resistors to reduce the current flow.

Munchys (author)2010-06-17

Could i shrink heat shrink with a blow dryer?

taleya (author)Munchys2010-08-09

You can, but you need a fairly beefy one. I've done it - if you have a salon-style hairdryer you can do it, but a cheapie one won't generate the heat.

BCat (author)Munchys2010-06-19

I don't think a blow dryer gets hot enough. No access to a lighter or matches huh?

Munchys (author)BCat2010-06-29

I didnt know i could use a lighter

Robot Lover (author)2010-07-02

this is really cool. I was thing of this idea a few days ago, but the switch was a pot that makes the led dim. 5*

Osiris19 (author)2009-11-01

 Could you use a SPST switch instead so you don't have to hold it down?

BCat (author)Osiris192009-11-03


Osiris19 (author)BCat2009-11-03

 What type would you recommend?

BCat (author)Osiris192009-11-05

The free type.  Honestly, I don't know.  I got my switch from a broken DVD player.  I'd probably get something like this:

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