Improvised Coconut Oil Mini-Lamp




About: Hello. I'm a freelance designer who makes a lot of different things for fun.

This project was a challenge to build a lamp using only objects I found around the house. With the Coconut Challenge in mind, I wanted to see if Coconut Oil was a viable fuel source for a lamp.

Parts list:

  • a glass container from the recycling bin
  • leftover wire
  • a wick (I recommend using a real wick, but you could try making your own)
  • coconut oil (substitute other vegetable oil or lamp oil if you want)


  • wire cutter
  • pot
  • oven mitts for handling the container of hot oil

My first stop was the recycling bin. :)

Step 1: Find a Container

You can make this with nearly any glass container. I found a small perfume bottle in the recycling bin. The tiny, metal atomizer had to be removed and I ended up breaking it off. Fortunately the edge wasn't too jagged so I wet sanded the edges. You could use a small jar, like a jam or olive jar, as long as you have room to fit the wick in. If the jar has a lid you can use a nail to poke a hole large enough for your wick.

Step 2: Heat the Oil and Wet Your Wick

Put a small amount of coconut oil in a pot over low heat and let it melt. In the meantime, prepare your wick by cutting it to length. When the oil is melted, dip the wick in and then squeeze out the excess.

Set the wick aside and carefully pour the liquid coconut oil into your lamp container. Stick your wick in, and wrap some wire around the wick where length of wire big enough to hold the wick in place.

(I had another step to this guide to make a wick out of old t-shirts, but it didn't end wicking the oil very well so I replaced it with a piece of tiki wick, which is fiberglass. You could probably use cotton shoelace or something similar to truly improvise).

Step 3: Set It on Fire!

CAUTION: This is a pretty harmless project but always take care when using flammable things. I had precautions in case of fire, and you should too. Also, do not leave this unattended for long periods of time. Even a small amount of oil will burn for many hours.

You'll find that coconut oil doesn't burn very fast. I get a fairly small flame, but if you want a larger one you could try other vegetable oils or actual lamp oil.



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    5 Discussions

    Coconut oil works great in a metal Betty Lamp which were normally used to burn animal fat and similar things. Did you know you and flatten the bottom of a Brazil Nut and use it as a candle? I saw i done in a survival course I took 20 odd years ago. The point was "Think outside the box!" not to burn food for light.

    1 reply

    That's an excellent point, better not to burn coconut oil in a survival situation. Thanks for the info on Betty Lamps.


    2 years ago

    Yes, my jar of coconut oil is already liquid in this summer heat! So it's easy to use this oil and non-toxic! Great project!


    2 years ago

    Great ible, I liked how you used stuff at hand!

    Actually, coconut oil reaches its liquid state at 25 degrees Celsius - room temperature basically -
    So you could make it even more kid friendly by melting the coconut oil using the warmth of your hands instead of a stove :-)

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Good tip! This could be a good project for kids, with supervision of course :)