Making Oil Lamps and Candles for Free

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About: Hi There! I'll tell you a little about myself. I'm a maker and doer. I like sharing my experience, building hardware projects and all kinds of art. I enjoy woodworking, pottery, fibercraft, metalworking, met...

Intro: Making Oil Lamps and Candles for Free

You can very easily make your own candles/oil lamps for free out of regular kitchen waste. This guide describes how to make a unique salted paper wicking for use in jar oil lamps and jar candles. Both the candles and oil lamps are designed to use free kitchen oil and have a top that closes so they won't spill or leak in storage.

Step 1: Making Wicks

Start with making wicking from salted paper

The salt keeps the paper from burning too fast. Also the salted paper wicking is stiff so it doesn't need wire to stand up. This property is useful for the candles and oil lamps described in the following steps. Actually any kind of wicking, like wick cut from a cotton towel will burn best if it is salted which retards charring. Just something useful to know if you are making any other types of instructables oil lamps. Presently the other lamps featured on instructables.com don't work well because they don't salt their wicks.

1. Wet some cheap copy paper with some very salty water or pour salt over the wet paper in a tray.

2. Fold and cut the paper into strips then twist or roll the paper.

3. Dry in an oven at 200F for 20 minutes or air dry overnight.

Here is picture of a tray of paper wicks made from one sheet of cheap copy paper.
[img]http://i7.tinypic.com/87mpudd.jpg[/img]

Step 2: Making a Paper Wick Tallow Candle

You can make a tallow or cooking grease candle very easily with the stiff paper wicking described earlier.

1. Select a jar, wide mouth jars are easiest to light.

2. Make a spiral from some wire, a foot of unwound ground wire works very well.

3. Pinch the wire around the wicking so the wick stands up. That way the wick will stand straight even if the grease melts. Where as, regular candle wicking would just fall into the candle.

4. Melt and pour in your grease, wait for the grease to solidify, then your candle is ready to use...

Step 3: Making a Paper Wick Oil Lamp

This sort of oil lamp works well with all sorts of used cooking oil. The wicks have a wire stand and handle so they can easily be lite and lowered into the lamp. And since they can be closed they don't spill when storing or moving them.

1. Select a jar.

2. Make a spiral out of wire as before so it pinches onto the wick pointing it up straight.

3. Bend the far end of the spiral into a handle so the wick can be pulled out of the oil for easy lighting. When you make the handle, make it so it sits above the oil and below the jar lid.

4. Fill the lamp so it leaves about 1/8 an inch of wicking above the oil.

5. Pull the wicking up, hold it sideways and light it.

6. Lower the wick into the lamp and enjoy.

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76 Discussions

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taylorslady

2 years ago

Thank you! This worked well!

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richbar

2 years ago

I understand that in ancient Egypt, the tomb workers use to use olive oil lamps and they put some salt on the oil to avoid the black smoke but this is thing of burnt slow because the salt is new to me, cool... living and learning... thank you!

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ariachus

3 years ago on Introduction

Would this work fine with newspaper as well? or would the acids/inks create too much fumes?

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mkslocomb

3 years ago on Introduction

Quick question for Step 1: what size did you cut the paper to twist?

I attempted this, but I did the salt-water after I twisted the paper - just un-twisted. I think I didn't cut the paper wide enough also. That experiment failed. Anyway, want to try again.

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steam_cannonmkslocomb

Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

Two inch wide strips of paper towel, dipped in salt water and rolled/twisted. Wet paper towel generally doesn't untwist. So if you're having problems with untwisting, maybe you were using a paper towel mixed with synthetic material and you need to use a cheaper paper towel. Or perhaps you were using paper instead of paper towel? In that case you might need to wet it longer. And if you're still having trouble, just use 100% cotton wash cloth and cut it to size and salt it.

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SIRJAMES09

3 years ago on Introduction

Q:

does it have tobe paper?

or can it be 100% cotton?

And what about using a fibreglass wick?

When it comes to burning natural oils, if I did not have bad luck, I'd have no luck at all... 8 (

1 reply
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Yes, in my instructable above I say the words "wick cut from a cotton towel will burn best if it is salted" which means cotton will work too and is perhaps even better. Regarding fiberglass wicking, no you don't need to add salt to fiberglass as salt helps slow carbon from charing and fiberglass is made of glass and charing isn't an issue.

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SonyaM

4 years ago on Introduction

does anyone know if it would be ok to use cooking oil but then add in some of those scented oils that you get from walmart to make it smell better?

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steam_cannonSonyaM

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

The oils they sell for evaporating above a candle dish would probably be safe. They already evaporate, burn and sizzle from candle heat. And I think they are what people use. But you should read the label and contact the manufacturer if there is any question about their product. Personally I recommend that you google "scents for adding to candle wax" because you'll find that people sell scents for adding to candles, gel candles or oils. You can buy a product specifically for your purpose, for about the same price.

Here are a link you might find handy:
http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Candle-With-Essential-Oils

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SIRJAMES09

6 years ago on Introduction

2K4U and Randkl:

TY very much!! I'm having the same problem...the oil lamp burns like it's supposed to for about 10 - 15 seconds then goes out.

Now that I know it's the oil, I know how to fix the problem. :)

Q:
would a fiberglass wick do better in an oil lamp than a cotton wick?

If fiberglass wicks will work better, I'll toss the cotton wicks in a New York Minute.

1 reply
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Fiberglass wicks work quite well. Their only disadvantage is they are difficult to make. Though you are interested, you may be able to make fiberglass wicking from rolling fiberglass insulation with a little glue so it holds it's form better, then you don't have to braid it. (Be sure to wear gloves if you decide to make fiberglass wicking.)

Can I just say, excellent instructable. I was fooling around with trying to create an oil lamp (realizing that candles can get expensive, fast) and was finding that the wicks I was making just couldn't keep up with the flames demand for oil. I also observed that they would wick really quickly the first 1/8-1/4" or so, and then slow right down. Though simple, your instructable addressed the issues I was having.

Now I'll just have to keep my eyes open for more jars or cheap glass cups.

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lomi.hija

7 years ago on Step 2

it would be nice if you can make the wick float, so it will automatically follow any level of oil you have..

2 replies
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bowow0807lomi.hija

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

i think you can by using one of those tiny candles in the small tin used for boiling scents. just punch a hole and place the wick through the hole and it will float

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Catl8dybowow0807

Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

You can! I tried it and it works great. Thanks for the idea :-)
I used a Kerr jelly jar.
Punched a small hole in the center of the metal candle holder, twisted in my
salted paper wick, floated it on top of the oil and waited for it to absorb the oil. Took it out with a needlenose pliers, lit it while holding with the pliers, and put back in the oil.
The wick was about 1/8 above the metal and the extended about an inch
below it, into the oil.

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biofueljunke

8 years ago on Introduction

made this about a year ago with steel wire and paper towel for added absorbancy its really reliable because its a candle that is made to use liquid fuel

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tinkerist

8 years ago on Step 1

i seem to be getting some hit-and-miss with my lamp wicks.  often they seem not to wick fast enough to stay lit for very long.  sometimes they work great.  when i set the wick in an open container of oil it always works fine, but they seem not to always work so well with bottle type lamps where the flame is well above the oil (inch or more).

any suggestions?  could i be over salting (sometimes there are little bits of salt deposit on the wick)?  is cotton twine too dense (paper occasionally works better, but not always)?