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I was looking around in the internet and started reading about boidiesel.  Nice, but in a shtf situation where am I going to get enough cooking oil to be useful?  Plus in temps lower than 60 degrees you need to mix biodiesel with 'regular' diesel your engine will clog,  much as normal diesel will gel up in the cold.  Methinks diesel is not all that useful - too finicky.  Then I wondered can it be used in oil lamps, like kero?  Nope, it gums up the wicks.  You need to get a special wick.  Well....why bother?  Some time ago I researched and learned how to make fat lamps for light, both from cooking oil and from solid (rendered) fat like lard or crisco.  Why not just cut to the chase and just make a fat lamp?  I'm only needing enough light to not trip over things after dark, not repair watches.

So I went back and looked up the article I wrote after my research & study.  Maybe the folks at Mrs S might be interested in yet another use for those saved animal fats?  BTW even fuel oil from a crancase will work in a fat lamp, it won's smell nice though and will smoke.  But in a pinch, fat is fat and it all will light the night!  So without further ado, here 'tis:  



by Kathleen Dayton


Although ‘fat lamps’ sound like an interior decorating faux-pas, they have historical credentials as inexpensive and easily made lighting systems.  Fat lamps operate differently than kerosene lamps, but before the use of kerosene for lamps, fats were the common lamp fuels. 


Fat lamps’ advantages are that they are inexpensive, use an easily obtained fuel   recycling cooking fats and other grease which might otherwise be wasted or worse yet, poured down a sink to clog plumbing, do not require the time and effort of making candles, and do not burn if tipped over during use.  Their drawbacks are that they are comparatively dim producing about as much light as a candle, they can smell like the food that was cooked in them, they can sputter if you do not adjust the wick, and if you are using crankcase oil or axle grease for lighting fuel it will smoke quite a bit – great for chasing mosquitoes, but you might want to burn those versions outdoors.  Two-wick fat lamps are easily fashioned which put out twice the illumination, and tin-can lamps can be cut to make a reflector to maximize the ‘candle-power’ of the lamp.


Here are several types of ‘fat lamps’ that I have made, utilizing both oils and solid fats.  The principles are the same in all fat lamps: a wick draws up melted fat which is then burned to create light.  They all work very well.


Fat Lamps using Jars

The wire-stiffened wick type oil lamp was described in “Nuclear War Survival Skills” by Kerry Creason 4.  Its basic operation is simple – a cotton string is weighted (to hold it down in the oil) and stiffened with wire (to hold the burning top just above the oil).  That book also shows a floating type wick, but I did not try that one.


            Step 1 – Weight down the wick at the bottom.

            Step 2 – Stiffen the wick with wire.

            Step 3 – Place wick in jar, and fill the jar to 1/4 inch of the wick top, and light it up.


See how simple?  Now another type of wick holder for an oil lamp described as a Hobo Lamp, by B. K. Webb 2 .  The original used baling wire to hold the wick; mine used a metal coat hanger, which for me was easier to obtain.  

            Step 1 – Coil the wick holder.  Bend the wire so the holder will stand up in the

                           middle of the jar.

            Step 2 – Make a tall handle so you can raise the wick in the holder up to adjust it.

            Step 3 – Thread the wick through the holder (which should be snug).  It should

                           stick up 1/4 inch above the oil. 

            Step 4 – Lower wick into the oil in the jar.  It should not submerge the burning

                           end, but the rest should be submerged.

            Step 5 – Fire in the hole!  As the oil burns down, use a pin to lower the wick to keep

                           it 1/4 inch above the oil.




A Solid-Fat Jar Lamp

This one was found on the internet, on a site marked “Homemade Lamps from Everyday Objects” 1 .  You will need a glass jar containing solid grease (bacon fat, Crisco, etc), a cotton swab (Q-Tip), and an absorbent rag, sock, or piece of old T-shirt. 

            Step 1 – Cut a 2 inch by 6 inch strip of cotton cloth.

            Step 2 – Wrap the strip around the swab, totally covering it.

            Step 3 – Stick the wrapped swab in the grease until only 1/2 inch sticks up.

            Step 4 – Smear a little grease on the exposed wrapping, and light it up.


If you don’t want to risk glass breakage, the same principles work using tin cans.  If you cut them right, you can fashion a sconce shape from the can, which acts as a wind break and crude reflector.  Webb 2 made a grease lamp from a tin can and some wire using cotton twine for a wick. 


            Step 1 – Cut the can to make a sconce, and file or rub with a stone to dull any

                           sharp edges.  Be sure to leave the bottom area uncut to hold the grease.

            Step 2 – Make a coil to hold the wick (Webb used an 8-penny nail to wind it on to

                          keep the coil nice and even.

            Step 3 – Make the base of the wire into a ring to hold the wick upright in the middle

                           of the can.  (Webb made a clever variation for holding two wicks.)

            Step 4 – Make a wick to fit the coil.  Braid several cotton strings together if needed,

                           or use a cloth strip.

            Step 5 – Pack the fat into the base, keeping it 1/4 inch below the lower lip of the

                           fat area.  Smear some on the wick and light it.  


Tactical Intelligence (from the internet) makes a compact oil lamp from a tuna can.  I made one and it works very nicely, but does burn with an open flame, much like a candle would.  Nonetheless it is beautiful in its simplicity.  You will need a tuna can with the lid partially attached, some oil, some old cotton cloth (rag, sock or T-shirt), and a nail or something sharp to make a hole with.


            Step 1 – Poke a hold through the top of a full tuna can, using a clean nail.

                           Open the can almost all the way, leaving a hinge uncut to get the

                          can contents out for use.  (It’s easier to punch when full.)

            Step 2 – Cut a 2 inch by 8 inch piece of cloth.  Twist or roll into a long strip.  Feed 1/2

                           inch of it through the tuna can hole so it sticks out the top.

            Step 3 – Fill the can 2/3 of the way with oil.  Shut the lid, let the wick soak up the oil.

                           You can dab some oil on the top of the wick too.  Light the wick.


And finally, for the fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the button lamp. 3

Equipment:  One metal button (Make sure it is metal; try it with a magnet to be sure.  A plastic one could melt.  A small square of cotton fabric big enough to fit around the button and gather at the top with a small tail, thread to tie it off, a small heat-proof plate, a match, some shortening (Ma used axle grease, but that is not easily found anymore!), and a box of baking soda (emergency fire extinguisher).    You might keep a pad under the plate in case it gets really hot.

            Step 1 – Cut out a small rectangle of fabric large enough to wrap the button in and

                           gather over the top with a ‘tail’ of gathered fabric.

            Step 2 – Twist the tail and tie it off with thread.  Twist the tail to make a tapering

                           wick, tying with more thread if needed.

            Step 3 – Smear shortening on the fabric.  Rub it in well to saturate the cloth, but

                           don’t leave gobs.             

            Step 4 – Put a liberal blob of shortening on the center of the plate.

            Step 5 – Settle the button atop the grease, and light up the ‘wick’. 


I was delighted with the wide variety of ways to burn fats or oils, all of which were impressively inexpensive.  Although I purchased a metal “betty lamp” for burning grease from the Smoke and Fire Trading Company some years ago, it did not come with directions for use!  I might just fire it up, now that I know the principles of burning fats for light, and how to make a wick.  I am glad I’ve learned how to make light so many ways.  I never need sit in the dark, come what may.



1. Homemade Lamps from Everyday Objects” from the internet;  Tactical Intelligence: Intelligent Know-How for the Concerned Citizen, dated January 4th, 2010  

2. “A Couple of Hobo Lamps” by B. K. Webb, The Backwoodsman, Vol 32, No 2, pp 20-21

 3. Laura Ingalls Wilder Button Lamp: Little House on the Prairie Crafts and Projects,  Laura Ingalls Wilder Button Lamp: Little House on the Prairie Crafts and Projects | Suite101.com http://www.suite101.com/content/laura-ingalls-wilder-button-lamp- a197080#ixzz1OpGadP8KSuite101.com

4. “Lighting”, “Nuclear War Survival Skills” by Kearny Cresson, © 1986, Oregon

     Institute of Science & Medicine , p. 102                                  


Word Count 1376

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:sSig_thankyou:   I'll have to try some of these. 


I think it's the "thin air" ...lack of O2 up here but I haven't been able to get fat/oil lamps like this to stay lit.  The commercial oil lamps are ok but not this kind.  I have several neat ceramic ones with simple reservoir and wick....none of them will stay lit either.  :tapfoot:    And worse....I can't figure it out. 


 ...unless it IS simply the high altitude but....why?  :scratchhead:   Cuz you have saturated wick and continuous source of saturation.  What else is needed that would not also affect my Diez lamps and candles??????   I mean olden time folks could chip an indentation into a stone....twist up some reindeer moss....lay twist of moss half in/half out of oil and ......light it. 


MtRider ....who hates mysteries.  But I keep trying....  :campfire: 



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So look what came in my inbox today:



The wick is a square of T.P. rolled up tight, diagonally.  Have to get something to make hole in center of butter to get it in there and rub butter on the top part....  [sorry..have no idea if this is too big or how to change that..]

MtRider ....think I'd rather spend Crisco than butter tho!



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Israelis used olive oil in their lamps.  I have two small bowls made of pottery and sealed inside.  I can pour olive oil in them, stretch a wick over the edge of an old wire clothes hanger that I lay across the top, and give it a light.  It burns quite well.  Just set it on a burn resistance plate or ??? to make sure nothing drips.  

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Lehman's sells beautiful oil-burning lamps in their catalog - essentially glass jars in a wire stand with a wick holder.  They are beautiful but i like to make my own.  However, I can see these lamps as neat prepper gifts....


Merry Corliss Camp Olive Oil Lamp  this one is $7.95....a camp lamp  Make Your Own Olive Oil Lamp Parts - Pint jar 6-pack  make your own lamps kit, pint jar size set of 6 for $19.99



  • Merry Corliss Cabin Olive Oil Lamp                                               Merry Corliss Table Olive Oil Lamp   Merry Corliss Table Olive Oil Lamp $9.95

    Merry Corliss Cabin Olive Oil Lamp 

  • Merry Corliss Chamber Olive Oil Lamp
  • There are reasons why the wick wont stay lit - wrong shape or material to wick properly occurs to me.  Maybe try a boughten one?


Edited by kappydell
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Kappy,  I've seen those in Lehman's catalog....  Course I drool over most things in that catalog.  :)  Likely any of us could bend wire to copy those...in a canning jar.



RE:  Wicks. 


I bought the oil lamps ...with the wicks. 


In other cases, I was trying some "expedient" lighting and have been trying all sorts of burnable stuff....mostly cotton.  Can't see any reason for any of those failures....except maybe our weirdness with officially high altitude.  :shrug: 


MtRider  :campfire: 

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are you implying that the twilight zone is altitude related?  LOL   I thought it was urban-related

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I’ve used the virgin olive oil with good results. Extra virgin seems to work better. Veggie oil works better. Since we changed to olive oil & butter for cooking, I’m hesitant to use my olive oil to light the house.  (Oh, & our health has improved greatly.) 

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Just now, Annarchy said:

Veggie oil works better.

"Veggie" oil is NOT made from vegetables at all! In reality it is industrial seed oil and burning it for emergency lighting is practically the only "safe" use FOR it! It is certainly NOT GOOD for your health!!!


These "vegetable oils," which from now on we will call what they really are - INDUSTRIAL SEED OILS - are ultra-processed and require a lot of steps before they are safe to consume. Because of this, these are oils that were completely unavailable in the human diet until technology in the 20th century made it possible to extract and process these oils to make them non-toxic and palatable. This makes them very different from healthy oils from olives or avocados, which release their oils simply through being pressed.


The process to bring industrial seed oils to you is far different, and includes a number of steps that require chemical solvents and exposure to heat that oxidizes these oils well before they get to you. Let’s look at how vegetable oils are made.


(The process includes) chemical solvents, degumming, processing, cleansing, bleaching and deodorizing to make (them) palatable. Not to mention, most seed oils are from GMO plants.




One thing you hear about when starting keto is to eat healthy fats.  The problem with that is that there’s a disparity between what “the guidelines” say about healthy fats versus what are actually healthy fats.  We’ve all heard about the heart-healthy benefits of olive oil, and they are correct regardless of what guidelines you’re following.  But the rest of the fats that the current dietary guidelines tell you are healthy are what they call vegetable oil.  The problem is, none of these oils from from vegetables.  They are an industrial byproduct that it is processed and repurposed as a consumable item.

These vegetable oils, which from now on we will call what they really are – industrial seed oils, are ultra-processed and require a lot of steps before they are safe to consume.  Because of this, these are oils that were completely unavailable in the human diet until technology in the 20th century made it possible to extract and process these oils to make them non-toxic and palatable.  This makes them very different from healthy oils from olives or avocados, which release their oils simply through being pressed.  The process to bring industrial seed oils to you is far different, and includes a number of steps that require chemical solvents and exposure to heat that oxidizes these oils well before they get to you.  The top offenders?

  • Canola Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Soybean Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Cottonseed Oil

These oils are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are the most easily oxidized form of oil; this leads to them being very unstable, going rancid very easily, and most likely to promote inflammation in the body.  The more saturated a fatty acid is, the harder it is for that oil to oxidize.  What’s worse is that the process to harden these oils to create products like margarine is called hydrogenation, which solidifies the oils but also significantly increases the risks of the product containing trans fats.

Let’s look at how vegetable oils are made.  Canola oil, for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cfk2IXlZdbI

Chemical solvents, degumming, processing, cleansing, bleaching and deodorizing is required to make it palatable. Not to mention, most seed oils are from GMO plants.

Now let’s look at how olive oil is made: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aieNV3V4b_s

No chemical solvents, no degumming, minimal processing (smashing and pressed/crushed/centrifuged only), no cleansing, no bleaching or deodorizing.  In fact, pure, unfiltered olive oil is the most prized and it can be tasted for quality (like a wine) as soon as it’s pressed.

Generally, when one is eating a ketogenic diet, we want what we are putting into our bodies to be as unprocessed as possible – the closer something is to its natural state the better. And avocado, olive, and coconut oils fit this bill the best.  Keto Quest advocates for a whole-foods based ketogenic diet. This does not mean that you can’t use products like exogenous ketones, keto bars, shakes, MCT’s, etc, but those products should not form the basis of your diet in the place of fatty meats, eggs, fish, fibrous, low-carb veggies, nuts and seeds.  For ideas on how to eat keto, check out the Keto Quest Program in the Programs section of the network, or feel free to check out all the recipes (with more to come) from Keto Quest’s own Keto Chef Max: https://ketoquest.com/recipes/

by Chris Wolf



Or, if you prefer YouTube:



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:yum3:   .......... NOT! 


I was hoping that was a stick of margarine rather than wasting butter....even for light!  :lol: 


DH-the-chiro was saying way back in the late 80s that margarine "was about one molecule off from plastic".  Question: Can you pop popcorn with olive oil?  I don't set it too high for heat so I guess you could.  About the only thing we still use the veggie oil for.   What do you use in cakes or brownies for oil?  Coconut "oil" we have is solid. 


MtRider  :campfire:

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55 minutes ago, Mt_Rider said:

Question: Can you pop popcorn with olive oil? 

Olive oil is generally not a good idea for high heat cooking (neither is butter as you know). :cook:

The choice would be coconut oil - yes, it is "solid" at room temp - depending on how cool/warm the room is :rolleyes: - the other option would be good old fashioned lard.

And I mean old fashioned because I guess you have to make sure your lard isn't hydrogenated!  :shakinghead: :gaah:

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I use light olive oil when DH wants popcorn.  I use only enough to coat the bottom of the pan & lightly coat the seeds.  Then, slowly bring up the heat, shaking the pan constantly, and remove it from the heat promptly as soon as it seems to quit popping.  


Thanks Midnightmom, I didn’t know that about veggie oil. 

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14 hours ago, Mt_Rider said:


DH-the-chiro was saying way back in the late 80s that margarine "was about one molecule off from plastic". 

MtRider  :campfire:

My doctor's office has that hanging on the wall!  :)


Olive oil is the only oil I don't have an allergic reaction to.  I'm even allergic to coconut.    I buy the Bertellis (sp?) brand.   I've seen articles saying that different brands, including the one I buy, have been tested and shown to not be pure olive oil (containing those other bad oils).   I always say a prayer when we open a new bottle that I won't react.   We use it for seasoning our cast iron pans and cooking in them.   I don't think it's the one you're supposed to use for that, but I have to work with what I can have.

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Alright, OOTO!  Sounds like you have a real health-concerned doc!!


Yeah, I mostly do popcorn like Annarchy.  I put a a tiny puddle on the cast iron fry pan.  Add three kernels of popcorn.  Turn on low heat and wait for heavy cast iron to heat.  When all three have popped, I add the rest and never do turn the heat up.  So olive oil would likely work.  Coconut oil is slightly sweet so would be ok in cakes, etc.  OTOH....if I try making Kettle Korn with salty/sugar taste, I could use coconut oil.    I have popcorn just a few times per year. 


Yes, lard vs Crisco type products.  Have both actually.  We're much further away from healthy than we've ever been.  Can't seem to catch up on anything anymore. 


MtRider  :( 

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Yes, Mt.Rider it sure is hard to catch up. Especially when "they" keep changing the ingredients on us without informing us. 


I remember my grandma used to always keep a cardboard box of lard in her fridge. It was red with some white on it. It had waxed paper inside so you could close the flaps over it. I'll bet anything that if it's sold now it wouldn't be the same thing. Seems like I've been using my granny's examples a lot lately. Everyone called her granny. Even many of her peers. 

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On 10/9/2019 at 8:23 AM, out_of_the_ordinary said:

I buy the Bertellis (sp?) brand.   I've seen articles saying that different brands, including the one I buy, have been tested and shown to not be pure olive oil (containing those other bad oils). 

(Bertolli's) :D


IF it is a mixture of oils, it is SUPPOSED to say so on the bottle. There is a "test" to see if your olive oil is "pure." Put the bottle in the fridge and if it solidifies at all, it is NOT pure olive oil! 


If you are reacting to olive oil, it may be because of the "lectin" content/quality in the oil. I clicked on one of those "This doctor says...." type "articles" a while back - it turned out to be a very long advertisement/sales pitch for the brand of olive oil that HE was selling, but it was kind of informative along the way.


He pretty much said that the olive oil you buy in the stores (and not from HIM) can have some issues with the "lectin" content because of:

  • How old the olives were at the time of pressing
  • The mixture of olive varieties and the country they were grown in used in the batch
  • How long they sat in storage before being processed or how long they sat in storage (after processing) before being distributed to stores
  • A brand that says "Produced/Bottled in Italy" doesn't necessarily mean that the olives were GROWN in Italy.
  • If the brand has a "Best By" date instead of a production date - (olive oil has a 2 year window before becoming "rancid") so you have no idea how much of that 2 yr window was used up in the picking, pressing, and processing of the oil in that bottle. He said that "rancid" olive oil develops "free radicals."

I have no idea how true these statements are or aren't, but some of the points may be worth looking into if you are having issues w/ olive oil. I'm still using olive oil that I bought with coupons when it was on sale over FIVE YEARS ago! Didn't know any of this back then, but the oil doesn't smell bad and I don't use a lot at a time so, I'm NOT tossing it out! Besides, he spent all of that time bashing regular grocery store olive oil BEFORE revealing that HE SOLD the bestest, freshest, purest olive oil available anywhere in the world - and, of course it isn't inexpensive! So, I take his "advice" with some amount of skepticism. BUT, If I was having issues I would probably try to independently confirm what he said; as YOU might consider doing.


(If you see the "medical advice" about getting rid of your olive oil, and the source is Dr. Gundry, you can watch the presentation for yourself. It is NOT a fast read.)

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On 10/12/2019 at 7:15 AM, TheCG said:

I generally can't find non-hydrogenated lard in our stores...



Do you have a "Mexican" market nearby? Lots of times you can find stuff there that you can't find in big box stores - even those that have ethnic "specialty" isles.

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