Waste Veggie Oil Lamp/Candle




Veggie Oil Lamp made from stuff around the house!

I had been looking on-line for sustainable lighting alternatives and I found a lot of sites that had instructions for veggie oil lamps.  However, almost all of them used the wire coil method for holding the wick in place and many people complained about it being too difficult to raise the wick when needed.  So I came up with an easier wick holder.  This project takes very little time to complete. 

Items I used:

A glass jar
Used veggie oil (it can be fresh but that would be wasteful)
Cotton material for the wick
A metal bottle cap
A nail and hammer for making holes in the bottle cap
Needle nose pliers
A small bowl of salt water

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Step 1: The Wick

Any cotton material will do: string, shoe lace, old clothing, etc. I cut 3 thin (10 inch long) strips off of a 100% cotton tee.

I then soaked them in salt water (using regular table salt) for a minute and laid them outside to dry in the sun.

After they were dry, I stapled the fat end (at the bottom of the 2nd pic) and braided it tightly.

Step 2: The Wick Holder

Image 1:
Take your metal bottle cap and use a nail and hammer to make a big hole in the middle for the wick. Make sure it's big enough for your wick, but small enough to actually hold it tight.

I also made 2 smaller holes on the edge of the cap (on opposite sides) for the wire to go through. You can probably see those better in the following pics.

* I read that if you are using galvanized wire, you need to rub it well with sand paper 1st. I don't remember why exactly, but I thought I should mention it.

Image 2:
I took 2 strips of wire and put each end through a small hole on the side of the cap. The length of wire depends on the size of your jar and how high you will be filling it with oil. I only wanted mine to be about half full bc I wanted the flame to stay inside the jar.

Image 3 & 4:
Here is the bottom of the wick holder. After I got the wire through the sides, I put it down into the jar so that it was at the level of where I wanted the oil to be. I then started to form the wire around the jar so that it fit as snug as possible. You want the wick to stay in place (duh) but you also want easy access to it. When the wick gets too low, you want to be able to easily get it out and pull it up with tweezers.  I left the side "wick holder handles" a little long bc it seemed to stabilize the wick holder better.

Image 5:
Now you can feed your wick up through the center hole.

Step 3: Adding the Oil

Fill the jar up to the bottle cap with the waste veggie oil.  Give the wick some time to soak up the oil. I think I only waited about a half hour.

Step 4: Ta Da!

Now light the wick!  :)  

The second image is the lamp my daughter made.  She added essential oils to give the lamp an aroma therapy quality.  She also put about 2 inches of water mixed with food coloring in the bottom of her jar.  When it is swirled around (do this before you light it) it creates a cool lava lamp effect.  She then decided to cut out designs from electrical tape to decorate the outside of her lamp.  Also, her lamp did not light as soon as mine did.  We are not sure if it was because of the water in the bottom or if it was because she poured the oil directly on the wick when filling the jar (too wet to light?).  After a few hours, it lit up with no problem!  :)

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    11 Discussions


    Reply 1 year ago

    Good question, I remember watching a documentary about Egypt- the salt in their lamps allows the oil to burn more cleanly.


    2 years ago

    My glass always gets hot and breaks. What can I do to prevent this?


    8 years ago on Introduction

    kool !!

    But here comes the question: once you light your wick it will start consuming oil. this means that the level of oil will drop. then the oil with have a hard time climbing upstairs in the wick to get burned in the flame. There is nothing "sucking" it up. this in the end causes the wick to burn (not the oil in it)...

    Can you think of some way to let the wick holder FLOAT in top of the oil to prevent this?

    2 replies
    Caio ViniciusGEmcySquare

    Reply 2 years ago

    I understand the issue you are addressing, EmcySquare. Vegetable oil is too viscous for the capillarity effect to feed the flame as fast as it can burn, causing the wick to slowly burn out. To solve this problem there are two ways: A floating wick, which will always keep itself at the same level of the oil, feeding the flame more reliably; or an immersed wick, attached to the bottom of the container and protruding through the surface of the vegetable oil with the help of a long, thin and well opened spring, like a pen spring. This last setup allows the flame to follow the level of the oil as it is consumed, gradually exposing the rest of the submerged wick. I'll add a diagram I made myself about the immersed wick setup, and I'll probably make an instructable about it soon as well. I hope this answers your question.

    Veg oil lamp.png

    There's really no need, the oil travels up the wick. The wick will burn a little, but really not very much. Once the wick is saturated, it will easily draw more oil up to the flame.


    7 years ago on Step 4

    I am definately going to make this. At last a use for the used oil.


    7 years ago on Step 2

    “I read that if you are using galvanized wire, you need to rub it well with sand paper 1st. I don't remember why exactly, but I thought I should mention it.”

    The reason you have to sand the galvanized wire is the zinc emits toxic fumes when heated, so it needs to be removed for safety's sake.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This is how I solved the oil level dropping. I took a cork from a wine bottle and cut a disk from the end of the cork. about the thickness of a poker chip. Bored a hole in the middle for the wick and wrapped tin foil around it. Then threaded my wick through, about a quarter of an inch top and bottom. And I let it float on the oil. The wick burns brightly, and It drops with the oil.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    i just brought some of these floating wicks/stands on ebay. pretty cheap.



    8 years ago on Introduction

    great idea for the wick holder ! Galvanizing gives off poisonous fumes when heated but if its not in direct heat I don't think it should be a problem