Introduction: FREE OIL LAMPS With USED COOKING OIL As an Additive to LAMP FUEL

Preparing for the next time your power goes out?  Ice storms, 2012, nobody really seems to know what's going to happen, but if you need some oil lamps cheap, you can make them for free out of a glass container that has a metal lid.  You probably have been either throwing these containers away or recycling them.  Save a few and you can make all the oil lamps you want for just the cost of some wick.  You can also buy the glass stoppers that make a candle out of practically any bottle, but reusing something like an olive or pickle jar is just making good use of something that's headed to the trash.  I have also made the burners out of fruit jar lids, new ones and zinc ones too.  Get some wick, cotton string, or even a twist of paper towel and shove it through the hole you used an ice pick to make, and it will burn PARRAFIN BASED LAMP FUEL just as well as anything you bought at a store.

HERE'S THE BEST PART - you can also incorporate USED COOKING OIL into the mixture.  USED (or new) COOKING OIL is much cheaper than PARRAFIN BASED LAMP FUEL ($12 / gallon at Wal Mart, but that price will go up soon - candle making wax has gone up 40% in the last 6 months), and one quart of it has 350 hours burn time as a candle which makes it one of the most efficient and cheap liquid fuels to stockpile for emergency lighting.  THE PROBLEM WITH USED COOKING OIL is that it's too viscous to wick in the typical OIL LAMP.  But you can mix it with PARRAFIN BASED LAMP FUEL and it works very well.  I have used up to 50% USED COOKING OIL mixed with PARRAFIN BASED LAMP FUEL and used it in all sorts of burners, from the traditional kerosene lamp like you can get at Wal Mart and Hobby Lobby, to an old green bean can with a hole I stabbed through the lid that I kept partially attached. 

Using a mixture of USED COOKING OIL and PARRAFIN BASED LAMP FUEL means that I have cut the cost of my PARRAFIN BASED LAMP FUEL in HALF by adding to it something that I used to throw away.

Any time you are using USED COOKING OIL it will cause your wick to get crusty.  You will have to readjust it and trim it MORE SO than if you are using pure PARRAFIN BASED LAMP FUEL.  If anyone out there knows a trick to get around this, please let me know.  I have seen a method using wicks that were soaked in a very dense solution of salt that claims to keep the wicks from getting crusty but I haven't had a chance to investigate that yet.



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    The reason why cooking oil gets crusty is because it is a complex oil. Cooking oil lasts much longer than paraffin does drop vs drop. It also requires a hotter burn to burn completely. I have made my own wicks from old bath towels soaked in a saturated salt solution. Then hang up the cotton strips to dry overnight. The salt does two things. First it doesnt burn. So the wick actually lasts also restricts the flow of fuel to allow it to burn without smoking. You could soak factory wicks to gain this benefit in pure paraffin lamps. But it would do better with cooking oil/paraffin mix. Although im inclined to mix 1/3 ratio of oil and paraffin mix to help it burn cleaner while using old cooking oil. As for flash points... there is nothing to fear, cooking oil has a much higher flash point than paraffin. It would be harder to light... but not a higher

    vegetable oil and paraffin have different flashpoints, its not really reccomended that you mix fuels with different flash points. if you have some knowhow you can make biodiesel, it has a flashpoint similar to LAMP OIL not parrafin and can be mixed with lamp oil or kerosene to cut costs. also, never let it sit too long since biodiesel and vegetable oil can go bad easily. i had a lamp that was excelent with a bd+kero blend that sadly was left to sit and requires a cleaning and fresh fuel.

    In a similar vein, I used to make lamps which would burn solid grease. As a child, mother read us the books by laura ingalls wilder about their pioneer family. in one of them, the blizzard prevented them from getting more lamp oil so Pa made a button lamp. I was inspired and made a few too.
    All it was is a large coat button that you wrapped a piece of cotton cloth around and tied into a bunch at the top. then I rubbed in some bacon grease all over it, set it on a dish of grease, and lit it. Makes a nice flame for a long time. grease melted enough to be drawn up the wick.

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    Interesting, I have seen where some have tried to find a way to use shortening for a candle but didn't have much success with it, I wonder if the button method would work for that. For me the only problem with using oil is that it's a little messy. Does the grease give off any scent when you burn it?

    You may have used vegetable shortening instead of animal fat aka lard.

    Im sure it would work with shortening. I don't really remember about the smell, but I'm sure in the case of the bacon grease I used, it probably did. It'a been 30 years ago I played with it. Now that I've thought of it again, I think I'll make some more of them. Hmmm, Maybe I'll do a little ible on it.

    When i was about 10 years old my mom had floating wick candles. It was a little glass disk that floated on the oil with divot to hold a precut quarter inch wick, and holes that allowed the oil to fill the float and touch the wick. you filled your container half with water and half with vegetable oil and then lit the wick. there was no need for paraffin oil. once the oil was burnt off the water put out the flame.

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    Corning made those and they were called "Uncandles". The selling point was that they were safer. If you tipped them over, they would self extinguish because of the water. You can still get these made by other companies. I have yet to see someone come up with an 'ible that constructs the floater unit well. Once you have the floaters and made your own pre-cut wicks you can use almost any glass container that's wider at the top.

    For the paraffin oil, you can use mineral oil or unscented baby oil which are essentially the same thing. See what it costs at your drug store.

    Your question about "cleaning up" the cooking oil reminded me of something I saw in a Popular Mechanics from 1940s. They used two cans ,one suspended above the other with a hemp rope running over the rim of one into the lower can. Used motor oil was put into the top can and allowed to wick it's way down to the other. Thus the oil was cleaned and reused. Never tried it but it might work for warm cooking oil. Great idea, by the way, THANKS! (bacon scented candles/lamps hummmm)