Alcohol Lamp on a Shoe String Budget




Introduction: Alcohol Lamp on a Shoe String Budget

About: A creative engineer, who builds because I cant bring myself to have someone else do things I can. I had a great maker childhood, one crazy uncle who built his house from materials he got off his land and was...

After building the Simple Adjustable Glass Bottle Cutter

I needed to heat the bottles along the score line to get a proper break. Many people suggested using a candle to heat the bottle, the problem was it left soot along the score and didn't seem to have enough heat. When I was a kid my crazy uncle taught me to carve wax figurines for crating pewter molds. He used a denatured alcohol lamp to heat the tools. It was clean and produced a hot flame.

He made his first few, but bought them in the end, but why buy one when you have all the stuff laying around the house.

Step 1: Materials

Materials needed

A baby food jar (glass with metal lid)
shoe string (cotton)
Awl or punch
Block of wood

Step 2: Check the Wick It Has to Be Cotton

Your shoe string needs to be cotton to work properly. The best way to test it is to burn the end. Cotton should burn slow, not melt and not have a lot of smoke.

If the lace is synthetic it will smoke and melt.

Step 3: Punch the Hole and Insert the Wick

Use the block of wood to back up the baby food container and punch a hole in the center. The hole size will depend on the thickness of the wick.  You can use a drill to put the hole in, just make sure you clamp the lid down.

Use the tip of the shoe lace wick to pull it through the hole.

Cut off the tip of the shoe lace wick. Trim the wick length to a inch or so longer that the jar you are using to allow for wick burn off.

Step 4: Fill It Up, Fire It Up.

Use denatured alcohol only!!!! The stuff under your bathroom sink is not what you use. 

Adjust the wick height to around 1/4 in.
Fill up your lamp with Alcohol
Screw the lid back on.
I flipped the lamp over to get the wick soaked, then placed it right side up on the table and lit it.

Be sure to keep an eye on how hot the metal lid gets you don't want the glass to crack. Use this only in well ventilated area and on a non flammable surface.

I have used these for hours at a time but you are responsible for your own safety.

Step 5: Storge

If you are not going to use the lamp for some time empty the alcohol back into the container you got it from. For a temporary cover I used an old medicine cup. Make sure the lamp is cool before you place the cup on the lamp.


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    3 Discussions


    I want to make an alcohol lamp for light. Because I find it more confortable.
    But quickly the alcohol heats and vaporizes. And then fire gets too big and so on.
    Maybe would work just by a reduced hole/wick ?
    plus I intend it to be long time lit without checking it s safety.

    Marvellous! Small, cheap, durable, and easily adaptable for a WTCHTF (when the crap hits the fan) kit, or a grab-and-go kit. Wonderfully done! Props!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Back in the day,prior to WWII, there were "shop candles" and "shop lamps". Both had extra long wicks to produce a larger and hotter flame for use in the shop, e.g. melting small amounts of sealing wax for gaskets or very fine pre-electric soldering irons.

    I don't think they've outlived their usefulness in the era or electric irons and gas torches.

    Just yesterday I cut up rather a lot of ballistic nylon and started singeing the edges with my small butane touch. After just a few inches, I had burned through a couple of dollars of butane. My cheapskate gene kicked in so I drug out one of our emergency light candles and used that so singe the nylon. It worked better than the torch.

    I was just thinking, "I seem to need a small controlled flame rather a lot. I need a shop candle or lamp." And this morning, here I find this post.