10 Minute Oil Lamp




Introduction: 10 Minute Oil Lamp

About: Hello

Here is a really quick and easy oil lamp. It will work great for emergency lighting.  I walked into my garage and about 10 minutes later I was burning rancid corn oil which by the way most people just throw away.  You may be wondering what rancid corn oil smells like when it burns.  I could not smell anything until I stuck my nose almost right down in the glass.  it has almost no smell but what little it does have smells like a warm iron for ironing clothes.  The garage is cold right now so it did make my nose all toasty warm.  The lamp puts out zero smoke.

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Step 1:

The wick for the oil lamp is a used birthday candle.  Birthday candles get about 2 minutes of use and then then most people just throw them away (I see a trend).  

To keep the candle upright and anchored by gravity to the bottom of the glass, I used a threaded hex nut.  The inside diameter of the nut was a little larger than than the candle so I wrapped a strip of aluminum foil around the base of the candle and then threaded the nut onto the candle.  

Step 2:

For added stability and weight I dripped some candle wax onto the inside of a small used jar lid and quickly pressed the candle / nut assembly onto the puddle of liquid wax.  Most people just throw away used jar lids. 

Then I lowered the candle down into the glass and filled glass (with still usable rancid corn oil) up to the top of the wax on the candle but below the wick and then lit the candle.

Since a used jar (most people just throw these away) can be substituted for the glass and the candle can be attached directly to the lid with wax or to some other weight, this lamp costs $0.00 if you use old cooking oil.


Credit where credit is due.  Mine is the zero cost version of this one:


See the next step (cooking).

Step 3:

In regard to cooking, I had done some tests with candles.  With a single flame you can pre-heat your food so you use less propane (about 40 percent) to bring your food or water to a boil.  You can heat to the point of getting a few tiny bubbles with one flame also.  This makes eating soup and spaghetti and other foods more enjoyable in a power outage.  If all you need to do is heat up food and not boil it, this can save 100% of your propane. 

I needed to raise the candle up a little bit so I used some old, used plumbing parts I had out in the garage. Most people just throw these away.

It helps to stir your food every ten minutes or so.  It takes about 45 minutes to an hour before lunch reaches its maximum temperature. 

Thanks for taking a look. If you link to this instructable, use this link, it looks better:


UPDATE 2-27-13:

If you liked this instructable, your going to love:


Cooking With Three Candle Flames.

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    4 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    This is REALLY great! My questions, How long do the birthday candles last? and How often do you need add oil?


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks humantiger,

    I need to do more testing. I only tested this set up for two hours on Saturday. The birthday candle is acting like a wick (such as in a real oil lamp) so it should last possibly days. I could not detect that I had used any oil after 2 hours of use. I hope to do a 10 hour test soon to quantify the usage and then I will update this intsructable.

    Another update (with pictures) will be using a larger candle (3” -4” wide) that has been used for a while so it has burned down a little bit and has wax sides or a wax rim. What you are left with is a recessed wick down in a reservoir around it where you can add spoon fulls of oil to the reservoir of melted wax. The benefit to this is that your candle will last as long as the wick lasts and you can use up the old oil in the process.

    When I do this update I will be using a big 3 wick candle to do some more cooking as well.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    nice and simple. Though, i bet you could get the 10 minute mark down to about 2 lol. Always be prepared!


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    You’re probably right. It’s hard for me to find stuff in my garage so it actually took about 10 minutes.