Make an Oil-burning Candle

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Introduction: Make an Oil-burning Candle

I had extra cooking oil that was used to fry tortillas for enchiladas. I couldn't just let it go to waste, so I made this support for holding a cotton wick.

This can be used to make any oil holder into a nice candle. If you are careful with the oil level, the wick will be consumed very slowly.

Step 1: Assemble Parts

Use an all-cotton string for the candle wick. Synthetic fibers will not burn cleanly. I am using a kitchen string that is used to truss poultry and tie up roasts.

Any kind of wire can be used for the wick support, but I had a spool of copper wire on hand. A large paperclip may also work.

Step 2: Begin Winding Wire

Loosely wind the wire around the matchstick.

Step 3: Complete the Wick Holder

The coil should be made loose enough to slip off the matchstick. I use a fingernail to separate the turns of the wire slightly.

If the wire is packed closely, it will wick enough oil to burn along the entire copper sleeve.

Step 4: This Is the Finished Wick Holder

Adjust the spiral base to place the coil in the center, slightly suspended.

Step 5: Cut the Wick

The length is not really important. Just so it is longer than the wire coil.

Step 6: Fill a Container With Oil

Adjust the wick so only an eighth of an inch projects past the copper coil.

Step 7: Now Use Your Match

The oil may be a little difficult to light, compared to a wax candle.

Step 8: Using a Candlestick to Hold Oil


Step 9: The Wick Is Not Consumed

Unlike a wax candle, the wick of this oil candle is supplied with fuel as the oil level goes down. The flame remains constant until the last of the oil is burned.

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    95 Comments

    I am intrigued. This type of 'ible is the reason I am here. Thank you for sharing.

    I would like to thank all of you for your kind comments. This was my first 'ible, and I am gratified to know that it still draws interest. You have all been wonderful.

    I used a 100% cotton twine with canola oil and with the wire plus also a bottle of olive oil. I can't seem to keep the flame burning, it burns the cord up? I have even soaked the cord in salt water, still no luck. what am I doing wrong?

    1 reply

    I am not sure what you mean by "plus also a bottle of olive oil." Do you mean that you are using canola oil or olive oil as fuel? Both should work fine.
    If the wick is being consumed, it usually means that the oil is not being drawn up the wick fast enough to feed the flame. Sometimes this is because the wick is too tall. That is, the distance from the top of the oil to the top of the wick is too far for the oil to be pulled up.
    I have also had trouble when the wire coil is too tight. By compressing the wick, there is not enough space to form channels for the oil to flow through.
    This is a deceptively simple project to make. It can work right off, or it may require a lot of experimentation to get the hang of it. Lately, I am finding that the oil that I have on hand forms a strange accumulation of soot that caps the wick, stopping the flow of oil and extinguishing the flame. It may be that I need to switch brands. So you may also need to do some experimentation in order to make this work out.

    Hi: I tried using a 7mm cotton wick in mason jars filled with scented oil. I cannot seem to get the wick to stay lit. I have submersed the wick in the oil, I have let it sit in the oil to absorb on its own and still, it simply burns out. What am I doing wrong. I am desperate as I am trying to make these for gifts and the clock is ticking. Thank you so much for your help.

    1 reply

    I have had problems keeping any kind of candle lit inside a jar or other tall container. There is often a strange 'pulsing' of the flame that precedes the flame's extinguishing, and I have decided that the problems stem from a lack of fresh air entering the container. The candle flame will exhaust the oxygen inside the container, and convection should let fresh air exchange with the spent air to support the flame, but some container geometries may prevent this from going smoothly. Instead, at some point, the flame will be reduced briefly, and the convection plume may escape the jar, to be displaced with fresh air. The new oxygen allows the flame to grow briefly, followed by reduction as the oxygen is used up. After a few such cycles, the flame will go out.\

    You may be able to experiment with lifting your candle to a higher level inside the jar with a wire carrier of some kind. There is probably some maximum depth at which the candle will burn steadily, and beneath which the candle will smother itself. Good luck.

    This wasn't really a science experiment. I just made a convenient support for a cotton wick for an oil-burning lamp.

    Thank you so much for this 'ible. Soon after I moved into my house the lights went off and I had no idea where candles were. I tried making something like this and it failed miserably, but it did keep me busy for about an hour until the lights came back on. Now in the future I know what to do in just such an emergency. Again, thank you.

    Interesting does it burn with used sunflower oil? Someone tried to pour candle with it?

    1 reply

    As far as I know, it will work with any kind of liquid oil.

    you could use anything of similar diameter

    I have a Q for anyone who wishes to answer.

    what is a better wick for oil candles & oil Lamps....cotton or fibre glass?

    I have a Q.

    What about natural Jute Twine?

    will that burn good for a wick?? or is that a blend of some kind?

    I do a lot of gardening & I use this stuff every season...I'm out of it right now, but am going to order a 10 pound spool soon...that's why I asked.

    someone else had a great idea to put an oil burning candle inside one half of an orange peel. The candle becomes ever so slightly orange scented :)

    With your construction and polish, I am sure it looks like a million bucks. I am glad that you took the time to write about your modifications.

    I wanted to use up the tortilla-frying oil by making an oil-burning candle for decoration and light.

    Hi,

    I have a problem with my wick, for some reason no matter what type of cotton string or fabric I use, I have a perfect burning flame for about 1 minute thereafter it just dies.

    Any advice to solve this problem will be great!!

    thank you

    1 reply

    I wonder if you need to make the wire coil a little bigger. If the coil is constricting the wick, it will not let the oil draw up to the end of the wick, and the flame will run out of fuel.