Introduction: How to Capture the Sun in a Jar!

Picture of How to Capture the Sun in a Jar!
I was looking for way to provide an energy fun and safe night light for the grandchildren's bed room.  I found inspiration for this project in two places; the first is here:, so my thanks for Amanda and her Epsom salt luminaries and here:, my additional thanks to cre8tor for his sun jars.  What really finalized the project was the day I walked into our local dollar store and there were the solar powered lamps for one buck.  The same day I went to target and they had them there for $2-$10.  Hurray! This just might work.  So I bought 3 (from the dollar store) and when home and when I had a little free time, I made them.  So here is how I was able to “Capture the Sun in a Jar”, and add a little light to that dark bedroom.

Step 1:

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Solar yard lamps ($1 from Dollar Store)
Glass jar with glass lid ($2.50 from local craft store)
E 6000 glue
Espom Salts crystals ($3.00 for a big bag)
Modge Podge glue
Food colors (you choose)
Paint brush
Paper (foam) plate
Clear spray sealer
Blue painters tape

Step 2:

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Take the solar yard lamp apart, until all you have is the main light assembly.  On the top is a mini solar panel. 

Step 3:

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If you unscrew the screws on the back you will find a rechargeable battery which is connected to the solar panel.

Step 4:

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On the opposite end it a LED light.  If you cover the solar panel the light will glow.  Just leave it the way it is.

Step 5:

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Put some of the E-6000 on to the outer edge of the solar panel

Step 6:

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and stick it to the underside of the glass lid.  This will allow the solar panel to absorb the energy from sun through the glass and store the energy in the battery.   The E 6000 is and dries clear so it will not interefer with the solar panels' energy gathering capabilities.

Step 7:

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Place a piece of the blue painters tape on top of the lid to cover the solar panel.  You will be covering the jar with Epsom salts and you want to keep the solar panel area clear so that it can absorb the suns energy.

Step 8:

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Pour some Epsom salts crystals on to the paper/foam plate.  At this point, if you want you can add a couple of drops of food coloring, using whatever color you choose.  Use a spoon to mix it well.

Step 9:

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Use the paint brush to spread the glue all over the jars sides.  Use as much glue as you can without it running all over.  Roll the glue covered sides of the jar in the Epsom salts crystals.  Set it aside to let it dry (this will take several hours to overnight).

Step 10:

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Spread the glue on the sides of the lid and cover it with Epsom salts.  Put more glue on top of the lid, all around where the solar panel will be.  Sprinkle more Epsom salts on the glue.  Get every area, except the solar panel area, covered with Epsom salts crystals.  Let dry.  Wash the brush with soap and water and let it dry also.

Step 11:

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After the glue holding the Epsom salts crystals is dry, take the clean, dry paint brush, and brush off any loose salt crystals.  Then use the clear spray sealer to seal the Epsom salts crystals.  Spray 4 light coats, with time to dry, in between each coat.  A heavy coat could cause the Epsom salts crystals to dissolve, so light coats work best.  Let dry.

Step 12:

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Remove the little piece of blue tape to expose the solar panel to the light of the sun, especially in a south or west window (if you live in North America), or set it where light bulbs can power the solar panel.
When the dark descends the stored energy in the battery, will turn on the light in the bottle and it will glow. What a wonderful night light for the grandchildren.  Beautiful!   Enjoy!


nedX (author)2015-07-21

Lllllllllee who me nussssss !!!!!!

Haus Page (author)2012-11-22

Great idea!

GrumpyOldGoat (author)2012-06-21

Just because I know people in different areas of the working sector...

I asked a highway stripe paining crew for some of the little glass balls they spray into the wet paint that makes the stripes reflective at night.

They gave me a gallon, and in the craft/Instructables world, that's a LOT of little glass beads.

Call your local city/county/state road departments and ask if you can get a baggie full.

Overall, another EXCELLENT INSTRUCTABLE. Thank You

JWEngland (author)GrumpyOldGoat2012-11-01

You can also obtain glass beads from airport and road pavement marking companies. Once they get wet or or debris in them they must be discarded. A gallon is definitely a lot of glass beads.

WOW, Goat, thanks for that idea! Now I'll add that to my dumpster-diving at the bike shop for supplies. Question on the beads--you'd have to have a direct light on them to make them glow, right? They don't retain light?
P.S. LOVE the solar night lights, Astraley.

flyingpuppy (author)flyingpuppy2012-06-30

So I went down to the Dept of Transportation yesterday and asked--and they gave me a jar of the reflective stuff. Here's my version of the above using one of the bottles left over from my outdoor chandelier project and a Dollar Store solar light. The reflective beads were glued on the outside with polyurethane. Not sure if it adds any more than Nana's epsom salt version.

That is correct. They reflect light that hits them.

And, as glass is wont to do, it transmits light through.

astraley (author)GrumpyOldGoat2012-06-24

oo, that's brilliant i might just do that sometime.

Amanda Formaro (author)2012-07-18

Thank you so much for the link to my epsom salt luminaries :) yours are awesome! Just FYI that eventually the epsom salt will lose its pretty sheen as the moisture evaporates. However, you can easily wash off the jars by soaking them and then redoing them again :)

girl_spunky (author)2012-07-02

You can get white glitter at Michael's that would give the same effect. You probably wouldn't need as much stuff to seal it either and it won't melt on you.

BrefelanDesigns (author)2012-06-15

Hmm, using magnesium sulfate crystals (Epsom Salts) for a textured surface, is interesting. Though I take it this is meant for indoor only, due to the salts, though if you happen to have some glass, you could break into into small pieces and use that instead. Though, one would probably want to either grind down the finished surface or cover it with a acrylic or silicone to make the surface easy to handle.

astraley (author)BrefelanDesigns2012-06-24

you could probably also grout them too and give it a stained glass look :)

I love this broken-glass idea, finally a use for all the tiny slithers from my sister's picture framing studio! Thanks. Really like Senkat's marble idea too but we don't have any of those.
Cheers lads.

SenKat (author)BrefelanDesigns2012-06-21

Possibly another reflective/refractive item could be some crackled glass marbles ! I do the DIY crackle method, which makes them fragile (bake in "brownie" pan at 400 degrees for three hours, remove from oven, and immediately pour ICE COLD water on top of them - PLEASE use common sense, protective eyewear, oven gloves, etc !)

gtoal (author)2012-06-23

how about going for a one-two punch by painting the inside of the jars with flourescent paint? (not complex to paint, just fill it up then pour it out. let it dry and repeat a few times for a thick enough coat.)

diajoh (author)2012-06-22

I bet you could also use unscented crystal cat litter ($4 for a 4-lb bag of Mimi Litter at Wal-Mart). Larger crystals, though, and some blue mixed in. But they wouldn't dissolve if you got them wet.

waywardviking (author)2012-06-22

Awesome instructable. I see a lot of these in my future. Thanks for sharing

RobTurrentine (author)2012-06-22

Thanks. I really like this project. I may try to make one this weekend.

MacOSJoey (author)2012-06-22

Really good idea and very nice looking, however, you specified it was for your grandkids, and I could easily see children flaking off the salt into a big mess pretty quick. Otherwise good idea,

Korbl (author)2012-06-21

Nice instructable, and they look good, but it seems like the epsom salts might dim the light a little. You can also improve the light diffusion by filling the jars with water and a bit of bleach. You'd of course want to seal the LED against liquid pretty well. The idea comes from water bottle lights invented by a guy in Brazil during a black out, who used actual sunlight to light up his workshop during the day, using 2 cap fulls of bleach in a two liter bottle, so that gives you somewhere to start with proportions.

londobali (author)Korbl2012-06-21

Like the guys in Philipines with their org: "a litre of light"

Great stuff!!

craftknowitall (author)Korbl2012-06-21

That is a great idea, a better refraction of the light. I saw a video about the water bottle lights before. I really wanted a night light. this works really well for that. Thanks for looking and commenting.

RobTurrentine (author)2012-06-21

Which glue do you use for this step?

Mod Podge. Thanks for asking.

n1qaw (author)2012-06-21

I use these lights all the time for just about the same reason. I use mason jars with corrugated paper on the inside. The lid inserts are easy to cut with a dremmel for the solar cell and light assembly to be hot glued into place.

As for the unit going off in the daylight, If you look closely at the circuit board you will see a few discrete components. These components look for voltage on the solar cell and switch the power to the LED off and switch in the battery to charge it up.

FYI if you install another bright led across the one allready in place it will cut the current down and the light will burn longer into the night, A little dimmer but serviceable.


danzo321 (author)2012-06-21

OK, I see, there is a switch in the little circuit.

danzo321 (author)2012-06-21

Manufacturing this baby for pennies, that's the instructable! Not clear that it only comes on at dark, maybe it's lit all day and you don't notice it.

BrownDogGadgets (author)2012-06-18

Oh snap! I was just about to start working on making nearly the exact same instructable!

I bought up a bunch of $1 Mason Jars and Solar Lights from the $1 Store a few weeks back, used a "frost" spray on them, and now have 10 very frosty lights on my second story deck. It gives off a nice low glow.

I may make an instructable anyways. I replaced the LEDs with different colored ones, as well as water proofed them a bit.


So it anyway. I have done ones that are repeats but because I did it MY WAY, it was totally different. Yours will be different and just as good if not better. Go for it. Thanks for commenting.

I shall totally go for it then. Hugs.

M!key (author)2012-06-18

What a great idea! I HAVE to try this :-)

About This Instructable




Bio: In a valiant attempt to keep myself from dying of boredom, I create.
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