Let's Make Lamp Oil Together





Introduction: Let's Make Lamp Oil Together

It is great to see what you are doing when the sun goes down. Today you can get ready to read by candlelight. The fuel you will make is from whale blubber. I'll use sperm whale because it is handy.

Step 1: First You Must Locate a Whale.

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Step 2: Next You Need to Locate Chunks of Blubber

Notice everything, every time you do something.

Now, time to collect a nice chunk of blubber.

Step 3: Then You Need to Bring It Home and Get Ready to Cook.

Wearing gloves and covering your nose will be helpful here.

Step 4: Here Are the Materials You Will Need.

  1. blubber
  2. a knife and fork
  3. a stove
  4. a lighter
  5. a pot
  6. glass jars
  7. a wick
  8. newspaper, cardboard, a bag

Step 5: Cooking With an Adult

Have the adult help you put the stove on and get supplies.

Step 6: Cut Up the Blubber With a Knife and a Fork

This is not easy. In the past whalers used sharpened bars

Step 7: Cook in the Pot

"This is called a "try pot". You will hear it crackle and pop.

"In turn, the sperm whales were hunted mercilessly in the mid 1700s and early
1800s. A single, large sperm whale could hold as much of three tons of sperm oil, making them an incredibly valuable commodity — and in fact, they became the first of any animal or mineral oil to achieve commercial viability."

Step 8: Wait for Ten Minutes

Step 9: Pour the Liguid Oil Into Glass Jars

Have the jars ready. Notice how the oil has changed color as it cooled.

Step 10: Place Wick on Top With a Ring

The ring will keep the wick afloat.

Step 11: Light Your Candle

Use a glass jar so you can see the color and the level and the wick.

Step 12: Dispose of All the Leftovers

This is the hard part. You may want to put it in the green bin.

Step 13: Tonight You Can Enjoy a Good Book by Whale Oil Light

Once Upon a Time...a whale of a tale!!



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    16 Discussions

    how to try out humpback lamp oil

    Wow, no kidding, I might try that if I get the chance.

    Oh, my goodness! An actual whale oil project!

    I've got to ask, though; how come the blubber is scatter all over the beach?

    9 replies

    I think they might have blown it up. As crazy as that sounds I remember reading about it not to long ago. A whale carcase that has washed up on a beach is considered a health hazard. it takes forever to decompose because of its bulk. By using explosives to scatter it all over and break it up into smaller chunks it allows predators and scavengers to run off with the bits. The remainder main bulk is sufficiently opened up to allow other scavengers into it and in this way it soon goes away.

    Now the real question is why they don't salvage it and process it into useful items?

    Other "scavengers" will have gotten to the teeth and bones first, else this could have been an Instructables on making scrimshaw.

    So, first a disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. Do not take what I say as law.

    I've been researching this (one of my favorite hobbies, researching and learning) and reading the laws (not so much fun) around the MMPA in the USA and I haven't found anything for soft tissue for personal use. Most of the laws apply directly to teeth, bone, and baleen. You can even take one as a souvenir of a dead, stranded marine mammal as long as you report your take within 30 days to the gov't (I can't remember where specifically, off hand). Don't take my word for it, call your local Department of Fish and Wildlife agency and ask them.

    Huh? I was just making a joke about other people grabbing the valuable bits...

    My state makes me so proud at times: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploding_whale

    You can find videos of it on YouTube if you like. A piece crushed a brand new car too!

    This is really neat. A fact to go along with this: blubber was eaten by Inuits in whale fat soup. It is energy dense and practically the only source of vitamin D for the Inuit for a large portion of the year.

    I wonder if there are legal implications around this though since cetations are covered under the Marine Mammal Protection Act in the USA? A notion that warrants research...

    There are special provisions made in those laws to allow certain native populations to continue to legally hunt. Their hunting impact is negligible on the populations especially compared to commercial endeavors. I believe there are a number of those types of provisions around the globe.

    I understand what you are saying here. My aunt is full blooded Lakota and when we've found eagle feathers while hiking, she picks them up and gives them to us. It's legal since she does it. I'm European descent so those laws don't cover me. I can't pick things up.

    I'd think utilising "found" blubber would be fine - the author here wasn't making money, but recreating history.

    I think that might be the key factor for allowing it to be legal: no profit, personal use.

    Sperm whale oil is not made from blubber. It is contained as a ready made oil in a specific organ in the animals head, where it it thought to help with deep diving. It burned with a particularly clear light in lamps, with no smoking or smell. It rapidly became used to lubricate industrial machines, which made it even more valuable, as it is a excellent lubricant for high speed spinning machines etc. That's why they had to hunt sperm whales, rather that seals, other whales etc which are a much easier source of blubber. Also you reference clearly state up to 3 tons IN the animal, as opposed to 40 to 60 tons of blubber on the animal.
    So what you have is rendered animal fat, a completely different product. Sorry, as rendered is regarded as a very messy smelly process, giving you the equivalent of lard, in a lower melting point form.

    1 reply


    I guess some were mislead by my introduction with that lovely historic image. I never claimed to be making SPERM Whale Oil, only whale oil. Call it lard but it wasn't too smelly and it lights nicely. The pieces where cast offs from the neroscopy performed by the Marine Mammal Institute. I'd love to put the other parts to good use, but I would not dare touch it or defile it anymore than what is already occurring ( recent tagging). It would be curious to see the liquid called Spermicide in the head cavity (head oil?). The locals are having a whale memorial for the Sperm whale on Saturday. I think I'll keep my secret to this forum. shhhh

    You can read "In the Heart of the Sea". Awesome book.

    This is so amazing! I've always found old practices like this extremely interesting! Living in Utah, there isn't much opportunity for me to scavange for whale parts.

    Thanks for sharing the great project!