Make an Easy Canning Jar Oil Lamp

One of my favorite things to do when the days are short, is to light candles and oil lamps. Somehow, in our old house, they seem “just right” on these days when the dark of evening still settles in early. And while it’s certainly nice to have oil lamps that have been handed down with a story all their own to tell, it can also be fun to make an oil lamp. A glass canning jar is perfect, and they couldn’t be easier to do!

The supplies you need are simple:

hammer and awl
glass canning jar, lid, and ring 
glass wick insert with fiberglass wick
rosehips, pine cones, cinnamon sticks, etc.
clear lamp oil (not kerosene)

You can also find oil lamp kits on-line with pre-drilled holes in the jar lid and they’ll certainly save you a bit of time. However; if you can’t find them, or want to make them right away, simply make a hole in the jar lid, by tapping the awl into the center of the lid. Make the hole large enough to fit the glass wick insert.

Slip the wick into the insert, and place it,wick first, into the hole in the lid. The lip on the insert will keep it from slipping through the lid. Set this aside while you fill the canning jar with an assortment of natural items…rosehips, pine cones, and cinnamon sticks are just a few ideas. I’ve also used dried apple slices, colorful Indian corn, and a variety of nuts.  Fill the jar to within a 1/4-inch of the top with lamp oil. You may have to adjust the length of the wick to weave it through the pine cones, rosehips, etc. and oil. The wick shouldn’t be sitting on top of those items. Secure the lid and tighten down the ring. Trim the wick to 1/4-inch, trimming even more if needed to keep the flame at a low, safe height.

Always keep an eye on lighted oil lamps making sure they’re out of reach of children and pets. I’d even suggest doing what I do … placing the lamp inside a glass hurricane. While still pretty, it keeps the flame away from little fingers, and reduces the chance of it becoming tipped over.

I hope you’ll try making one … it’s a simple country pleasure for these long, wintry days.

Published on Feb 3, 2012

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