Saturday, November 5, 2011

Olive Oil Lamp

Years ago, before Nate and I started this homesteading journey, we bought a kerosene oil lamp.  I don't remember where we got it or what happened to it, but I remember using it and thinking it was really cool.  Maybe there has always been a homesteading seed in me just waiting to sprout.  Anyway, thinking about that lamp today, I started looking around online, and I came across olive oil lamps.  Better yet, I came across how to make one, which I did.  Here are the directions if you want to try your hand at making one.  It's a fun project.

I'm using it now, and it is casting a soft glow in the room, like a candle really.  But the great thing about it is I had everything necessary to make it.  I didn't need candle wicking or kerosene or even a fancy container.  I didn't have to go through the trouble of melting wax for candles either.  And, even though they are called olive oil lamps, you can burn many types of oil, including vegetable oil and animal fat, apparently.  Right now, I'm burning vegetable oil.  For the wick, I used a strip of cotton t-shirt.  I had to play around with it to keep it from smoking but I think I figured it out.  The article says to not let the wick be more than 1/4 inch in length above the surface of the oil, but really the shorter the better.  Basically the wire coil is directly on the surface of the oil and there is barely any wick above it. 

Making this lamp made me think of the button lamp Ma Ingalls made in The Long Winter
"If only I had some grease I could fix some kind of light," Ma considered.  "We didn't lack for light when I was a girl, before this newfangled kerosene was ever heard of."

I would love to hear your thoughts on this project.

Happy homesteading,




  1. This looks like a great project! I really want to try it myself. I'd love to see photos of what yours looks like.

  2. Candace, I can't remember if I left a comment for this post or not! I meant to the other day but think I ran out of day before I ran out of things to do. :o

    I would definitely like to try this sometime. We have an olive oil minorah, but it has special wicks. It's packed away somewhere.....

  3. Shari: Mine looks like the one in the article. I used a wide mouth pint mason jar, some thin wire, and a strip of cotton t-shirt. I'll share a photo on my next post.
    Leigh: You should try it. It's a great alternative to candle and can be made with stuff you probably already have.