Here in DC, we are scrambling trying to ready our 1916 rowhouse for the impending Frankenstorm and to prepare for days without power. At Home Depot, all the candles and flashlights were sold out, so I decided to improvise and create a DIY oil lamp from a mason jar and a few household supplies. After all, I have 100s of Mason jars, so why not?! So far, so good—the lamp has been burning for a couple of hours and counting.
Supplies you will need:
1. Mason jar with lid
4. Cotton strip, jute twine, oil lamp wick, or other cotton twine
5. Paraffin oil, olive oil, or another natural oil (f you are looking for paraffin oil, you can get it at Ace Hardware. )
6. Match or lighter
1. Punch a small hole through the lid of the mason jar with a nail by hitting it with a hammer. It’s important that you don’t make a hole too big for your string. If you do, your string will fall through the hole into the oil. (I did this the first time!)
2. Cut a strip of your improvised wick (jute, string, etc) that is at least as tall as the mason jar.
3. Pour your oil into the jar.
4. Soak improvised wick in the oil—an hour is optimal. I didn’t soak mine for more than a minute and it still worked.
3. Insert the jute or improved wick through the hole in the top of the mason jar lid, leaving 1/4 inch or less sticking out above the jar lid.
5. Light the wick and taaaadaa! Your very own mason jar oil lamp.
You will have to pull the wick up as it burns down. You can use pliers or tweezers to do this. 1/4 inch wick should last you quite some time, though.
It goes without saying that you should not keep the mason jar lamp burning while you are not watching it.
Good luck and stay safe!