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Prepper DIY: How To Make An Inexpensive Oil Lamp

Mac Slavo
October 15th, 2019
Comments (8)

If you lose power, knowing how to easily make an oil lamp out of items you may already have could help provide the comfort of some lighting when things go dark. Oil lamps have been around since ancient times, and while they may be a lost art to some, for preppers, they are incredibly useful tools.

Knowing how to make your own oil lamp could give you some much-needed light if the power goes out. In fact, the Amish use oil lamps because they are both practical and inexpensive. While the average candle has the power to light just
7-8 hours, the typical burn time of a 
hurricane oil lamp, is around 20 hours. But buying one of these will set you back about $50! Because of that, there’s a do-it-yourself solution that costs very little. 


Braided wick – the thicker the wick, the brighter your light.


Olive Oil – buy it in bulk, by the gallon. It’ll be cheaper and last a long time!


Lid for jar

Needle Nose Pliars


Using the pliers, cut a 15-inch length of wire to form the “wick  holder.”

Roll one end of the wire tightly around the nose of the pliers 4 to 6 times.  Move to the other end of the wire and wrap a circle that will fit into the bottom of the jar that you’ve chosen for your lamp.  Wrap this circle several times with the wire to make a firm foundation for your wick.

Using tweezers, feed your wick through the circle made by the pliers, and pull through the top. Place the wick in its holder in the jar.  Fill with olive oil to within one inch of the top of the wick. You should wait until the wick has completely absorbed all of the olive oil before lighting it. More in-depth instructions can be found at Joybilee Farm’s website by clicking here.


Always use caution when you are using an open flame.  To extinguish the oil lamp put the lid on the jar. Please avoid licking your fingers and trying to snuff it out. This could result in a bad burn on your fingers. The jar and the oil won’t heat up from the olive oil flame, however, you should try to keep it on a non-flammable surface as a precaution. If you are concerned about the safety of making your own oil lamp, consider buying a couple instead. They will cost more, but it might be worth it if it gives you some added peace of mind.

In a pinch, having the supplies on hand and the know-how to create a cheap oil lamp for some light could come in handy.

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Author: Mac Slavo
Date: October 15th, 2019
Website: www.SHTFplan.com

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  1. asshat says:

    waxed jute twine and use bacon greese. smells great. half pound of bacon yields about a half cup worth of fat. use shot glasses to put twine wick in. whole roll of jute twine at dollar store. hamburger greese works fine too. cost $1 for the twine makes hundreds of wicks. never had a fire issue. burns long time too. dont waste your olive oil.

  2. Wicks can be bought by the roll on Ebay. Also, candle wax and wicks can be had there cheaply. Does anyone know if rancid olive oil can be used? says:

    Wicks can be bought by the roll on Ebay. Also, candle wax and wicks can be had there cheaply.
    Some hardware stores still sell lamp oil.
    Lamps can be found at garage sales sometimes.

    Does anyone know if rancid olive oil can be used?

  3. This is BS. says:

    I tried it and it doesn’t work!

    • Clown World says:


      h ttps://www.pinterest.com/barakatseoul/herodian-oil-lamps/

    • Anon says:

      Do you really want Oil Lamp to work? Or just fussing to fuss.

      If you want good functional lamp: Pay attention. Follow steps. Don’t deviate. This is Easy, Cheap, Functional, Useful, project.
      1. Container: Mason jars, wide mouth are easy to use for lamp. But nearly any jar works. Leave plenty of room above oil. Don’t overfill over half.
      2. Nails: Take two nails that will fit across bottom of jar used. Cross them in X pattern. Secure with uninsulated wire, into X pattern. This is what you attach wick to.
      3. Wick: Important: 100% cotton wick, old style mop head string makes good wick.
      4. Wire:Use Thin UNINSULATED wire wrapped around wick, to hold wick and attach to nails used for wick anchor. Place attached nail anchor, with wick/wire support in the jar, with wick Attached to X Nail anchor. Fill jar container with Crisco oil.
      5. Oil: Crisco oil works well. Do NOT overfill. Few inches is good.
      6. Make sure wick poking out of oil is not too long. Just a tad above the oil.
      7. Can use wire to wrap and make bail for jar as handle, if desired. (Figure it out.)
      8. Use cookie sheet for base to set lamp on for safety.
      9. Make a dozen of these BEFORE you need them. Have spare wick material and oil.

      Have several BarBQ lighters available to light wick

      Aluminum Foil or a Mirror behind lamp offers good reflected light.

      Hope instructions clear? If not. make several oil lamps yourself. Post your better instructions.
      -Good Luck.
      _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

  4. AlterNative says:

    Right, folks, jump out there and buy some $40/gal olive oil to burn in smokey oil lamp after dark when you should be simply going to bed.

    Slavo strikes again!

  5. Yahooie says:

    I went to the linked website (which is very interesting) and found the questions posed here were answered in the comments section. There is also much more detailed information in the original article along with pictures showing some details such as how to make the wick holder.

    Thanks for the info and link, Mac.

  6. Clown World says:

    To the tune of Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow —
    — How to make string from fiber, oil from seeds and animals, containers from mud or whatever.
    — Start a (well-meaning, responsible) fire from found objects (with mental adults present).

    Everyone has a light switch (except in California) so can acknowledge that a lamp is something useful.

    Social decay has gone from people, who should never be trusted with electricity, to people who should never be trusted with an open flame.

    If you are uncomfortable with this project, please do not start a grease fire, indoors, the disclaimer should say.