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Make Your Own Olive Oil Lamps

A fun way to decrease your electricity is to use olive oil lamps.  Even if aren’t trying to save money or get ready for electrical panels it’s a good idea to understand how olive oil lamps work in case you need one during a power outage.  Someday I’d love to have solar panels, but I had a quote done so I could get an estimate of what we would need based on our current use and it would take us 30 years to “earn” the cost in savings! We totally have solar panels now!

It is much more effective to cut back on our electrical consumption then to totally switch to solar panels and still use so much.  Electric lights are a small component of our daily usage, but it is one of the most fun to experiment with.  I like fire so I am experimenting with candles and oil lamps.  If I had the cash outlay I would try some solar lamps, the kind that charge in the window.  But I don’t, so I go the cheap route and make my own oil lamps.

Olive oil lamps are a fun way to decrease your electrical bill, add mood lighting, and prepare for lights out emergencies.

How To Make Olive Oil Lamps

In Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book, The Long Winter, Ma makes a button lamp for the family using axle grease and a piece of cloth.  The principal of the lamp is that the oil is drawn up the cloth and burned, and this is the same process in candles and kerosene lamps.  Judy of the Woods has a great picture sequence of how to make your own olive oil lamp with a bit of wire, twine, and a mason jar, plus tips on how to use it.

Here are the basic steps to make your own olive oil lamp:

  • Get a wide shallow container or a glass jar, cotton twine, and some wire
  • Bend the wire around a nail to create a small coil.  Bend the rest of the wire down and around so that it creates a flat circle for the coil to stand up from, then bend the rest upwards to lift the coil up and down.  (Seriously, click here check out the picture sequence, it’ll make so much more sense.)
  • Twist your cotton twine tightly until it curls around itself.  Feed the folded over end into the coil of your wire.  You now have a wick and holder.
  • Place the wick and holder into the jar and fill with oil until it’s just below the coil.
  • Light your lamp!

I love the ambiance of candle light but not the price of candles and this is a cheap and easy way to become more self reliant.  Now you just need an olive tree, right? 😉

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Carol L

Wednesday 13th of April 2022

"(Seriously, check out the picture sequence, it’ll make so much more sense.)" What pictures? There are none, only a wildcraft video and the title picture.


Wednesday 13th of April 2022

Thanks Carol, there was a link to the pictures earlier in the article, but you're right, I need to add a link there too.


Monday 11th of April 2022

You can also use a deeper container and float 3/4” or so of oil on top….it is now self extinguishing if knocked over!


Tuesday 12th of April 2022


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