I had a few trial runs with these DIY mason jar oil lamps that ended in failure earlier this week, but now that I’ve got all the elements right I’m loving the simplicity and efficacy of their mosquito repellant glow on our veranda.
Initially I tried using olive oil as the fuel because I’d hoped this would be one of those cool projects that only calls for materials we all have lying around. Despite the claims of the Instructables I pulled up on Google, I personally couldn’t get the olive oil to burn… So based on my own experience I’m going to say that the key ingredient in this DIY is proper lamp oil. I also experimented with various home-made wicks and discovered that waxed candle wicks don’t soak up the oil, bakers twine looks cute but is just too thin to sustain a flame, a cotton shoelace is perfect, and the big fat tiki torch wicks they sell in the garden section of Bunnings give off a flame that can be seen from space… so proceed with caution!
DIY MASON JAR OIL LAMP TUTORIAL
a Mason jar (or any jar with a fairly flimsy metal lid)
lamp oil – I got clear, unscented torch oil and also citronella oil from the hardware store
a cotton wick or shoelace, unwaxed
a pair of needle nose pliers
a washer or nut just big enough for your wick to fit through
1. Punch the nail through the centre of your jar’s lid with the hammer. Wiggle it around to make the hole as big as possible. Use the pliers to enlarge the hole by gripping around the hole, applying enough pressure to create small tears in the lid, and pealing them out of the way. This is much easier than it sounds if you have a mason jar lid as the metal is so thin.
2. Fill the jar a little more than half up with oil.
3. Stick a few centimetres of the wick out through the hole in the lid, leaving the rest to dangle in the jar, drenching up oil.
4. Pull the wick up a little more through the washer or nut so it sits up off the lid. This makes the lamp look a bit more finished and prevents the rest of the lid from being scorched by the flame.
5. Wait about 15 minutes until the wick has soaked up enough oil to burn, and light. REMEMBER, you can’t blow these lamps out like a candle, so make sure you have something close by to snuff them out. (A metal bucket or the base of a cast iron skillet works well:)