Make-shift Oil Lamp

A simple oil lamp can be made from numerous materials found in the bush or around the home.

Sustaining light away from the fire or when the power goes out may be difficult especially if candles are not on hand. This is an easy solution of using spare oil or rendered fat to keep the lights on when the rest of the world goes dark.

Many different containers could be used to hold the oil. In this case, we will be using a scavenged clam shell for holding the oil. A spoon, a tin can, a soda can, ceramic bowl, or anything nonflammable and not at risk of melting could be used. The wick could be made from a piece of cloth, a rag, a twisted paper towel, or just about anything that will soak up the oil. The oil can come from “waste” cook oil that has dripped off into the cook pan as is the case here. One could also use olive oil or vegetable oil as a fuel or from rendered fat in the bush.

Here we use a clam shell as the container for the oil

Next, some cedar bark is acquired to process into the wick.

Processing cedar

The cedar wick is then made by using the reverse wrap cordage making technique

Add some rendered fat (oil leftover from cooking) and the cedar wick soaks it up

The wick is lit with a match and the shell oil lamp will burn for about 30 minutes on one filling. It can be increased by adding more oil or rendered fat.


The same method could be done with more modern tools or scavenged goods such as a soda can and a piece of reverse wrapped paper towel.

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