Introduction: Soda Can Oil Lamp New and Improved Design!

I am excited to show you my new design on how to make an oil lamp.  After exploring some of the other tutorials I found some unsafe and some impractical.  I took an old oil lamp I had and brain stormed my own design.  Please check this video out to see what I came up with.  

Supplies:
Lamp oil or olive oil (extra virgin)
knife
3 soda cans ( I used the small 7.5 ounce cans)
a wick (I used store bought colman brand found in the camping section of retailers)
pliers
scissors
lighter

Comments

jack.mudge.98 (author)2014-12-09

This is a gorgeous kerosene lamp. :)

The reason it won't work with olive oil or other vegetable oils is the viscosity of the fuel. Vegetable oils (by the way, refined oils like saffola or canola burn cleanest) are very viscous (thick), so they can't travel far up a wick. Kerosene, on the other hand, is very low viscosity (and also has a very low surface tension), so it can travel quite far.

What this means is that some minor alterations to your design are necessary to make the lamp work well with vegetable oils. First, the fuel reservoir needs to be much shallower. Second, there can't be the air gap between the fuel reservoir and the flame -- in other words, basically, follow the design principles of the penny stove.

Don't use steel wool inside, and make the opening larger for the wick. It should be held in place, but not squished since the oil won't travel well through a pinched wick. Definitely do leave an extra cut for oil to flow back in, although it's not because of the fuel coming up (which is a problem for kerosene with low surface tension, but not for vegetable oil), but rather for refuelling.

Vegetable oil lamps have one unique feature: They can be refuelled while they are running, safely! That's because the flash point for oil is very high, so the wick is simply not hot enough to cause the oil reservoir or any spills to ignite. (In fact, it is convenient to snuff a vegetable oil lamp by dowsing it with oil, so that the wick will be prepped already for the next light.)

They're not as bright, because the oil burns slower. However, since you only need two or 3 soda cans and a few tablespoons of oil to make one, it should be pretty easy to make half a dozen and keep them all running for as much light as you could need. As previously commented, even used cooking oil will work, including from fast food restaurants, as long as you've strained any turbidity out of it (e.g., it should be clear, not cloudy, and doesn't have anything floating around in it.)

biofueljunke (author)2014-09-05

I had seen the can lantern design somewhere else on here using vegetable oil and was thinking of making my own design that used a third can for draft, your design helped me form some new plans for it and I will definitely look back to it but im adding actual draft to the flame to get it brighter and mine will be more based on the vegetable oil design. also extra virgin olive oil is not the best for burning due to higher impurities (what do you think the color and flavor come from) If you want to burn it try canola or "vegetable" (soy) or even filtered fryer oil from a restaurant as you can get it for free most of the time! Oh and the problem is, your design isn't adding draft to the flame like a kerosene burner would and you are burning something close to kerosene (150F flashpoint) meaning you will get soot and poor light production. if you want something reliable I may post my own version of a simple wire burner jar lamp with some tweaks and tips that I have found to be helpful to make a lamp that will burn well to the last drop of oil and produces light consistently while sipping fuel.

geronimogo (author)biofueljunke2014-10-08

Wow. You seem to have lots of knowledge when it comes to lamps. Let me know if you post on instructable on how to make your lamp with draft. I am very interested. And thinks for the great info.

brett_the_beast (author)2014-06-09

I tried this with citronella tiki torch fluid to keep the mosquitoes away, and I tried it with a piece of sting as the wick. Using regular sized soda cans, I used up only about 6 fluid ounces after burning it for an estimated 12 hours. This thing is unreally efficient. I'm definitely going to use this whenever I need light while camping or the mosquitoes get really bad. Excellent idea

Thanks!!!

shilohjim (author)2014-03-09

I built one today and it works like a charm. I did a couple of things different. I used a 1/8 inch round wick instead of a flat one. Even though a flat wick would give more light a small round wick seemed like the right size for that small of a lamp. That's just my opinion though. Since I used a round wick I made a round impression instead of a football shaped one.

I'm now thinking of making a larger one. Maybe out of Fosters cans.

geronimogo (author)shilohjim2014-03-12

Very cool. Thanks for sharing.

EmcySquare (author)2014-02-10

Question: are you sure that it would work with olive oil too? or any other vegetable oil?

I'm asking 'cause your oil seems to be synthetic, or mineral oil that is lighter, and less dense, making it easier for the oil to climb up the wick and burn.

The reason for old "Aladin" style lamps for being more horizontal is that it's easier for heavy vegetable oil to get to the wick and burn.

geronimogo (author)EmcySquare2014-02-10

I wanted to let you know that I did some more testing after reading your comment. It turns out that the olive oil did work but it was not as strong and burned down to just a small blue flame in 2 hrs and 30 min. I appreciate the helpful information and I added an annotation to the video and mentioned you. Thanks again

EmcySquare (author)geronimogo2014-02-11

Thanks a lot for the try! I really appreciate it.

Blue flame? how strange! che color of flames might depend on the chemicals that are oxidating in the flame and/or the temperature of the flame. Blu flame is typical of gasses (like methane or buthane). When I tried olive oil lamps the flame was always orange/yellow.

geronimogo (author)EmcySquare2014-02-10

It worked when I tried it. Could be because the height of the can is very small on mine.

jmwells (author)2014-02-07

Good vid. My only concern, you put a plastic, open bottle of oil next to open flame. Oooops!

geronimogo (author)jmwells2014-02-08

Looking back on the video during edditing II noticed that too. Thanks for your concern.

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