Homemade Lamp Oil

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You can make lamp oil from almost any oil you already have in your kitchen pantry. To accompany your homemade oil, make a lamp as well; the lamps are efficient, convenient and safe. You can light a room without using electricity.

Warning

  • Do not put oil into a kerosene lamp. Use a lamp that is designed specifically for lamp oil, or create your own homemade lamp.

Understanding the Process

Lighting with oil is a centuries-old tradition; oil burning has occurred in every culture since man discovered fire. The oil lamp takes fire one step further, allowing man to control it. Many different kinds of lamps -- from terra-cotta lamps to tin cans -- and oils -- from whale oil to canola oil -- have been used across the ages. The basic process involves filling a receptacle to almost full, inserting a wick and lighting it. The wick uses a capillary action to absorb the oil and burn it at a very slow rate: approximately 1/2 ounce an hour.

Selecting the Oil

Store-bought lamp oil is typically a mix of kerosene and paraffin, but it's actually cheaper and safer to use vegetable oil right from your kitchen; the most widely used is olive oil. Alternatively, look for lampante oil, a type of olive oil made only for burning.

Other oils that you can use include seed oils, canola oil, coconut oil, soy oil, peanut oil and any other vegetable oil you might have in your kitchen. You can also use animal fat drippings, like the leftovers from cooking bacon and even an oil that has gone rancid. Of all the oils, the reason olive oil is the most used in homemade lamps is that it has very little scent to it.

Tip

    • You can collect and use waste oils. Simply strain the oil before placing in your lamp.
    • To control the scent and make your home smell lovely,  use a dropper and add 5 to 10 drops of essential oil every time you fill your lamp.
    • Use citronella oil if you're burning a lamp outside. It will provide lighting and get rid of insects at the same time.

Warning

  • Be careful when using essential oils that you read the directions carefully. Keep essential oils out of the reach of children.

Staying Safe and Storage of Oil

Burning homemade oil is safer than burning kerosene or even burning a candle. You are using oils you would normally use in your kitchen, so simply apply basic safety precautions:

  • Always place the lamp on a firm, flat surface.
  • Never fill a lamp all the way to the top. Leave a 1/2 inch margin at the top.
  • Store the oil in a cool, dark place. 
  • Keep the lamp chimney clean, but never handle it when it's hot.
  • Do not use mineral oil or kerosene in your lamp.
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