Make Lamps–Not Vinaigrette

by Daisy

We’re in storm-n-outage season now, and I don’t have a single candle in the house. What’s a girl to do?

1. Open a bottle of wine with some friends and whack the cork in half longways. (If you’re alone–freeze the extra wine. Booze and burning stuff is how many a redneck emergency room story begins.)

2. Poke a hole through one half with something sharp and jam something round through it. (See? Booze, fire, and now sharp objects. Maybe freeze ALL the wine until you’re finished with this little project.)

3. Braid some cotton string or cut a strip of of cloth from a cotton garment (An absorbent one. The khaki’s I tried stunk. But any wick will take about 15 min to absorb enough oil to light, so I DUNK em) and poke it through the hole in the cork.

4. Float that bad boy in a jar full of olive oil and LIGHT it.

That is my favorite of all the oil lamps I’ve constructed. Mostly because it’s the safest. Any sloshes immediately smother the wick, and being a jar, I can always put a top on it to put it out or for storage.

There are variations, however:

And of course, this one:

The keys for all of these is absorbent cotton, a liquid fat, and a way to keep the wick standing up.

1. For the little round glass one uses a cotton ball shaped like a meringue peak and a shallow bit of oil (cotton balls sink, so about half the height of your meringue. Mine is too deep.) Dip the tip and set the cotton in the puddle. You can dunk it or wait for the oil to creep up.

2. Bud Vase Lamp: I did the same cork and wick trick from the jar candle. Smaller bit of cork. Fill it up with oil, dip the wick, and go.

3. Bottle Lamp: You can fill the whole bottle with oil, but that’s a LOT of oil. So, if you want to kill some space–fill it part way with water. To make the wick stand up, poke a hole in the lid and thread it through. To be safe and have that lovely smothering effect if it tips, DO NOT screw the cap on. If it tips, we want it to spill.

So, a few end notes:

  • Any absorbent material will make a wick, but synthetics put out black smoke and God-knows-what-else, so go with natural fibers.
  • Any liquid fat will burn, but not all burn as cleanly as olive oil. You can do canola, peanut, corn, what-have-you.
  • Any price concerns will by allayed when you see how long these suckers burn. (That little cotton ball one can go for DAYS.)


P.S. Next time….bacon candles!

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Tina January 16, 2014 at 9:27 am

This looks simple and effective. Thanks for the tutorial and variations!

elba diaz April 4, 2014 at 10:37 pm

I love everything, I’m from Puerto Rico, but I live in Chicago Ill. I will be glad if you send me any new things do you have, thanks very much

Shunra Cat July 13, 2014 at 9:23 am

Thanks for a very nice idea!

I followed the instructions but the cork always caught fire.

Solution: wrap the cork in aluminium foil

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