How to Make an Oil Lamp out of a Mason Jar

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How to Make an Oil Lamp out of a Mason Jar

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A mason jar is the perfect object to use when making an improvised oil lamp.  It is just the right size, it is made from clear glass, and it is sturdy.  Best of all, you don’t ruin the jars, which means they can be used for storing things later.  Let’s take a look at a couple ways to make this idea work for you, and they are ridiculously easy.

Lidded Candle

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This approach is the safest, as the lid can help to prevent accidental spills from occurring while you are using the candle.  The first step is to place the lid, right side up, atop two blocks of wood that are spaced apart about ½ – 1 inch.  Next, take a hammer and nail and gently tap it into the center of the lid.  You can also use a fat, pointed screw as well.  The next step is to take the nail or screw and use it to make the hole bigger.  Aim for a diameter of around ¼ inch to start with, but you can make it wider if necessary.  The hole should be big enough to allow the wick to be inserted and removed while also supporting it at the same time.  The extra space around the wick will also help to inject oxygen into the jar, which will help to feed the flame.  You can also install a nut and threaded sheath into the hole to make it more secure, but this is optional and won’t impact the performance of the candle. 

Measure the length of the wick, and cut as needed.  You want the wick to be long enough to rest on the bottom of the jar while extending at least an inch above the lid.  You can also attach a soda bottle can tab or paperclip to the end of the wick to help prevent it from floating.  Whether it floats or not will depend on the wick material that you’re using.  All you need to do now is fill the jar between ½ and ¾ the way up with the oil of your choice.  Close the lid, but be careful to hold the wick so it doesn’t fall through the hole.  Light the candle, and you’re good to go.

Wire and Wick

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If you don’t have a lid, you can take some wire and fashion a support beam to hold the wick in place.  All you need to do is fold a piece of wire in half, and crimp it along the wick.  The trick is to make sure that it’s long enough to fold over the edges of the rim of the jar.  The goal is to make the crimp secure enough to keep the wick in place while also allowing you to pull it up above the wire as the flame burns through the material.  If you’re having trouble getting the wire to crimp properly, give it a twist in order to make the fit more secure.  All you need to now is bend the ends of the wire over the sides of the rims to hold it across the mouth of the jar, make sure the wick is touching the bottom, and fill it with oil.  If the jar has a metal clasp lid, you can also attach the wire to the latches. 

Cork and Wick

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This method is worth trying just because it’s so easy.  All you need to do is cut off a ¾ inch long segment from the main cork, thread the wick material through a sewing needle, and feed it through the center of the cork.  Pull it out from the other end, cut off the needle, and make the wick material long enough to drape along the bottom while keeping an inch for the top.  Fill the jar with oil, plop the cork in the middle, and push down the wick material so it reaches the bottom.  Light the wick, and the cork will support it as it floats atop the oil.

Keep in mind that you can use any type of cleaner-burning oil or fuel for your lamps.  However, consider using cooking oil, particularly olive oil, because it won’t contaminate the mason jar, and you can use it to store food or other items later on.  Try this method out for yourself, and see how its efficiency and simplicity makes it a great option to have at your disposal during a power outage.