Oil Lamp With Three Matches




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You can make an oil lamp from just three matches. This is also a good way to recycle used cooking oil. Most oils will burn well in this type of oil lamp and three matches tends to be the magic number to get a good lasting flame.

What you need are:
1.  A book of paper matches.
2. A piece of wire, like a twist tie or copper wire.
3. A bowl or jar with cooking oil in it.

Assemble by tying the three matches together with wire and make a loop so they will stand up in the oil. Then put them in the oil and light.


Step 1: Tie Together Matches

Assemble by tying the three matches together with wire and make a loop so they will stand up in the oil.

Step 2: Light

Then put the matches in the oil and light.



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    14 Discussions

    Yep the top of the wick should be above the oil. So for this kind of lamp the top three match heads should be above the oil. After you light them, they will burn themselves down to a height that works.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    very nice. very easy. we used to make a lamp with a shoelace hanging off the edge of a saucer of butter. once the thing gets warm, the butter melts into oil and feeds the shoelace wick. (where were in a place where they turned the lights out at 10pm and we didn't have flashlights) this would have been easier.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    That's interesting. I've made lamps using butter too, but always butter that's been boiled a little. I boil butter before hand because stick butter has moisture in it which eventually saturates the wick putting it out.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    i did something similar using candle wax and a bbq stick. when the wax melted i coated the stick with it and then i lit the tip of the stick using the candle and voila a lighting stick and be careful because when the wax north of the stick melt and when it reaches the flame it ignites and makes a great drop of liquid fire effect

    1 reply

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Doesn't the burning of cooking oil cause a large amount of black soot to be formed? Shouldn't you be using lamp oil?

    6 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    A brief pulse of pure oxygen on a candle will make a fairly bright flash. Though I wouldn't recommend burning anything under pure oxygen for an extended length of time as oxygen fires are very intense. But brief pulses of oxygen and a candle would make a good science demonstration. Also as a steampunk style technology that would make a pretty good signal flasher or could be used to make a sort of flashbulb. It could even be used with a hand pumped zeolite oxygen concentrator, so bottled oxygen wouldn't be needed. However, the only practical application of making flashes with candles would probably be for science demonstrations.


    Regarding "large amount of black soot" No. Black soot only happens with incomplete combustion. This style of lamp tends not to be very sooty because the cardboard wicks curl down and stay short. If the wick is too long, most oil lamps will produce soot, but I haven't had soot problems with this design. Of course if you do have soot problems, you could always burn it outside. Regarding "Shouldn't you be using lamp oil?" In some parts of the world, it is still not uncommon for people to throw together a lamp from stuff they have around. Most lamps in history have not used oil labeled "Lamp Oil" from a big box store. The advantage of official lamp oils (oils/paraffins) is they are thin and they are good at soaking up wicks hanging a distance from the surface of the oil, like the classic kerosene lamp. Kerosene lamps won't work with cooking oil because the oil won't soak up the wicks fast enough. However, like with candles, if the wick is at the surface of the oil reservoir, then the oil doesn't have to travel far up a wick to be vaporized, therefore avoiding the need to use a lighter oil like "Lamp Oil".  This process also helps keep the cardboard wick short, by leaving cardboard up high dry of oil which quickly burns away keeping the wick short. Short wicks/flames tend to mix well with air and combust completely, so the end result is very little soot.


    No, it's not sooty. Also sootiness has more to do with the wick height then the fuel and the three matches tend to keep a good height for clean burning. However I do feel oil lamps are better suited to outdoors for camping or patio lighting. So if you have any problems with soot, then just take it outside.