Oil lamp

Making an oil lamp using vegetable oil


The Chemistry of Light 02 - Oil Lamps & Candles

by Royal Society Of Chemistry

Vegetable oil lamp based on capillary action (experimental)

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How to make a inexpensive oil lamp / candle - HD

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Improvised Vegetable Oil Lamp for Emergencies

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How To Make A Homemade Vegetable Oil Lamp

by Meliann11

Followup to How To Make A Homemade Vegetable Oil Lamp

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by HomeMADe Science


There is a fire risk - a fire extinguisher should be ready. Make sure there is nothing flammable nearby.

Always follow general safety recommendations. Please note that conducting chemistry experiments you must comply with the relevant legal procedures in your country.

Reaction formula

(СН3-(СН2)m-(CH=CH-(CH2)х(СН2))n-CO)3C3O3 + O2 → C + CO +CO2 + H2O


  1. Vegetable-oil

Step-by-step instruction

  1. Take a container for oil (bottle, glass jar etc.) and fill it with vegetable oil.
  2. Take a cotton string and cut a several inch piece to make a wick.
  3. Soak the whole wick in oil and secure it in the container.
  4. Carefully ignite the tip of the wick.

Scientific background

Vegetable oil consists of various triglycerides containing unsaturated fatty acids. These substances are flammable and usually burn with a smoky flame (because of incomplete combustion of oil). Due to capillary effect oil climbs up on the wick and burns on the tip of the wick.

It is better to use olive oil because it gives a more clear flame without bad smells.


Published on 22 October 2015

  • Fire
  • Heating with fire
  • Explosion
  • Poisoned gas
  • Organic
  • Electricity
  • Solution
  • Oxidation reduction
  • Color change
  • Precipitate
  • Gassing
  • Catalyst