Picture of Oil Lamp from a 35mm Film Canister
A long lasting oil lamp that can be made for free from parts found around the house
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Step 1: Items

Picture of Items
Okay you should be able to find all these parts around your house so it will be free

1. A 35mm film canister- I used a clear one so i could see the oil level
2. Fuel of some sort- Alcohol or oil, i used canola oil because it burns better and clean
3. A real cotton ball, cant be synthetic
4. Aluminum Foil
5. Sharp scissors
6. A source of fire

Step 2: Hole Punching

Picture of Hole Punching
Punch a small hole with your scissors then cut a hole about 5 mm in diameter

Step 3: Making the Wick

Picture of Making the Wick
oil Lamp 004.jpg
Okay your going to make the wick now

Get your cotton ball and unravel it

Then start tearing a 3/8 in peice off

Lastly get the cotton and roll it between your fingers to make it a thick string

Step 4: Making a heatsink

Picture of Making a heatsink
Fill the canister in oil, don't use vegitable oil because it doesn't burn good, about 5mm from the top.

Pull wick through the hole

Then you got to get your foil and get 4'x4' square and fold it over and over so u get the foil having 4 layers

punch a small hole just large enough for your wick in the foil a put it on the canister

You now have a Oil lamp that has a heat sink

Be sure to keep your wick about 1/4' long ne longer and black smoke will appear

You can also mix salt with the oil to make it burn brighter
blodefood8 years ago
The canola oil is good and very safe. If knocked over, it would likely self-extinguish. For this reason, I would not recommend alcohol for this project as it can be quite dangerous. This is a neat project and practical in case of power outage or for some inexpensive lighting options. Just a note about film canisters: NEVER, EVER use them for food applications! The silver nitrate from the film stored in them will leach into the food and could poison you.
salan blodefood5 years ago
Not my post but it says it al so copying to this thread.


I though some of you may be interested in seeing what Kodak have to say about the use of those canisters for other purpose than storing film. In a nutshell, there is no risk whatsoever with toxic leakage from the plastic, it seems to be pretty safe, altough they explain the plastic use is not FDA approved for food (this is in the States), there has never been any problems reported to the compagny.

You can find the complete information here:

cudnt u clean it out like really thorough?
acer73 (author)  blodefood8 years ago
Yes isn't the silver nitrate the crystals that change from the light touching them
snook1235 years ago
will rubbing alcohol work
snook1235 years ago
you could shoot the lid with an airsoftgun
knektek5 years ago
thanks for this instructable ( cuz i just wasted about 1litre of cooking oil) ...
ert5 years ago
actually vegetable oil works perfectly
sharlston6 years ago
why isnt vegetable oil any good?
joey25426677 years ago
should I post my zippo looking oil lamp made out of clay?
yes you should i would enjoy it
Kryptonite6 years ago
I just made this, for cooking i believe Canola oil is the worst possible substance next to sionide, so I don't have any in the house. I felt pretty outta luck so I tried peanut oil, just a tip, don't. Either my cotton's not really cotton or peanut oil just isn't suitable, and I'm thinking it's the latter. Any ideas on methylated spirits?
Nablec7 years ago
May I suggest adding some aluminum foil on the inside and on the bottom for a heat sink of sorts.
X_D_3_M_17 years ago
is this like burning plastic? hard to understand.
acer73 (author)  X_D_3_M_17 years ago
No its burning the oil, I wouldn't let it stay lit for more then a few hours though because it will get hot.
k, im asthmatic, i start to wheeze at plastic fumes.
acer73 (author)  X_D_3_M_17 years ago
well then this wouldn't before you When i light it and leave it for an hour the only thing that happens is the plastic gets a little soft.
pyro 45.58 years ago
I cant exactly tell, do you fill the canister to the top, or half way, ect.?
acer73 (author)  pyro 45.58 years ago
about 5mm from the top
pyro13 acer738 years ago
i made one with alchohol and alot of salt and it works great, tho u do have to wipe the salt off the wick top every 30 min or so
Great instructible. I like the resourcefulness of this project. It's fun to get back to basics in this ever increasingly complicated world we live in today. I suppose you could do this with a number of containers etc.