How to make your own oil lamp with a colored flame

Written by michelle norton
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Oil lamps come in many different varieties. From glass to wood, they create a warm glow for your home and yard. By adding coloured flames, you can match your decor, create themes for parties, holidays or just accent an occasion. There are several ways to create colour flames, but the easiest is to purchase speciality oils, which will burn in a variety of colours. These treated oils contain salts and metals that burn in different colours depending on the additive in the oil. With a few supplies both a simple lamp and the oils can be made at home.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Glass bottle or jar with metal screw on lid
  • Vegetable oil
  • Sawdust
  • Copper sulphate
  • Water
  • 100% cotton wick a little longer than your container
  • Hammer
  • A nail
  • Pliers
  • Craft knife or scissors

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    Making the Lamp

  1. 1

    Score the lid with a small "X" using the craft knife or scissors. Using the hammer and nail, poke a hole in the lid in the middle of the X. Cut along the small X with the knife or scissors. Use the pliers to pull back edges of the hole along the X. Make sure the hole is large enough to let the wick through.

  2. 2

    Pull the wicking through the hold in the lid so 1 inch is above the lid. Use the pliers to clamp the edges of the hole around the wick to hold it in place.

  3. 3

    Place the lid on the container to make sure the wick touches the bottom. Trim the wick above the lid to ½ inch.

    Making the Oil for a Colored Flame and Adding it to the Lamp

  1. 1

    Combine equal parts copper sulphate and water. Stir until the copper sulphate dissolves.

  2. 2

    Soak sawdust in the water overnight. Remove remaining water. Allow sawdust to dry completely.

  3. 3

    Place sawdust in your glass container. Add vegetable oil and stir. The container should only be half to three-quarters full.

  4. 4

    Place the lid on the glass contain so the wick hangs in the oil. Let sit overnight so the oil soaks the wick.

  5. 5

    Light and enjoy a green-flamed candle.

Tips and warnings

  • Use different chemicals in the sawdust to get different coloured flames.
  • Yellow - Sodium chloride (table salt)
  • Purple - Potassium chloride
  • Orange - Calcium chloride
  • Red - Strontium chloride
  • Blue - Copper chloride
  • Carmine - Lithium chloride
  • If you don't want to make the oil yourself, consider buying prepared oil. These oils come in all colours and some are even scented.
  • Keep oil lamps away from children and pets. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Wear rubber gloves when handling chemicals. Store all chemicals in airtight containers in a cool dry place. Do not burn wet sawdust.

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