How to Make Mason Jar Oil Lamps

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Mason jars are a staple item for nearly all preppers and homesteading families. The sturdy jars are first and foremost used to pressure can the annual harvest, but they possess a plethora of other potential uses as well.

Oil lamps are one of those items that often gets passed down from generation to generation. Unless you go camping or have experienced a power outage and do not own a generator, granny's oil lamp probably just sits on the shelf and gathers dust.

Investing in tangibles, like oil lamps, means that you will always have something of value to barter both during and after a long-term disaster. In addition to stocking up on the lamps themselves, you also need to purchase extra wicks and mantles.

Going homemade is almost always the most frugal option. In addition to buying some of the larger commercial oil lamps, which are readily available both online and at outdoors stores, you can also make a homemade version of the light providers quite easily and cheaply.

Anyone who has spent a bit of time on Pinterest already knows how many dozens and dozens of boards are devoted to all the things you can do with mason jars.

For preparedness and bartering purposes, going simplistic with the mason jar oil lamp project is all that is necessary.  You can also go the decorative route and spend just a smidge more time to make the homemade oil lamps look a lot more artistic and use them as gifts for preppers or sell and earn some extra cash to filter into your preparedness budget.

homemade oil lamps Decorative Mason jar oil lamps make great prepper gifts.

Survivor Jane and I have had many a conversation about how we go about introducing the prepper lifestyle to loved ones and friends who are unfortunately not aware of how important it is to be self-reliant and aware of the threats our nation faces on a daily basis.

Handing a loved one a beautiful and useful mason jar oil lamp as a gift this Christmas offers the chance to discuss the vulnerabilities of the power grid and how seasonal weather fluctuations or solar flares can cause an outage and leave them in the dark for days or possibly even weeks and months.

Planting the seeds of survival and waiting for them to take root in the mind is a process that often has to be cultivated over time. Do not be discouraged if your best friend or dear co-worker does not ask you to teach them how to hit the bull's eye at 25 yards or to go bugout bag shopping after being given the oil lamp.

mason jar lamps Making mason jar oil lamps is a project you can do with your children to help introduce preparedness concepts.

Mason Jar Oil Lamp 

What you need

  • Hammer
  • 1 nail
  • 1 mason jar
  • 1 bottle of olive oil, almond oil, paraffin oil  or basically any unscented oil
  • 1 cotton wick that is 100 percent cotton (Polyester material or similar synthetic fabric could produce dangerous fumes when the mason jar oil lamp burns.)
  • 1 pair of sharp scissors
  • Optional: herbs, spices, and citrus shavings can be added to the oil to help infuse the room with a pretty fragrance

What you do

  1. If using decorative items such as pine cones, flowers, holly, twigs, cranberries, cinnamon sticks, crystals, or rocks, place them inside the mason jar first.
  2. Poke a hole in the metal mason jar lid using the hammer and nail. A screwdriver and screw about the size you would use to hang a photo frame can also be used.
  3.  Fill the mason jar with your chosen oil.
  4. You can purchase a cotton wick from a craft store, but to save a few quarters, you can make your own very easily. Simply braid several strips of cotton that are just slightly taller than your jar together. You can secure them with a piece of string for added sturdiness. A thick piece of stiff rope can also be used as a wick and adds a rustic look to the homemade oil lamp. Wrapping the fabric or rope around a piece of crafting or floral wire also helps to keep the wick straight and to hold it in place.
  5. Soak your wick in some of the oil being used for the lamp and allow it to absorb the liquid thoroughly.
  6. Remove the wick from the oil and allow it to drain on a paper towel for about three minutes. Squeeze away any excess oil so that it does not drip on the outside of the jar and attract the flame.
  7. Optional: You can purchase a Mason jar wick inserter metal ring to place inside the jar just under the lid if you would like to hold the wick more firmly into place.
  8. Thread the wick into the Mason jar lid hole and through the wick holder if you chose to add one.
  9. Screw the mason jar ring around the lid and your homemade oil lamp is complete. To add a decorative touch, you could hot glue some lace around the outside of the ring before screwing it onto the jar.

There are a multitude of ways to make a mason jar oil lamp, but all are similar variations of the same theme. A fully-functional no frills lamp does not even need a lid or ring. However, the lid and ring do give a finished look to the homemade lamp and help to prevent a fire if the lamp is knocked over.

Mason jar lamps can also be used as hanging lanterns both indoors and out. Wrap some sturdy wire around the neck of the jar and then craft a handle out of the same piece and you can walk with the jar and use it like a torch. You can even mount multiple jars on a bar or "X" shape made out of wood and hang it from the ceiling to create a chandelier of sorts. This would allow you to work on ammo reloading, sewing, or other survival projects long past dark.

About the Author:


Tara Dodrill is the author of Power Grid Down: How To Prepare, Survive & Thrive After The Lights Go Out, The Prepared Family website creator, and a writer for Off The Grid News, Prepper and Shooter Magazine, Survival Life, Survival Based, and the host of the Common Sense Prepping radio show on t ...


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