Magical Mason Jar Oil Lamp ( DIY Oil Candles in 2 minutes! )
An oil lamp, or oil candle, is one of the oldest form of light source to mankind, with stone oil lamps dating back 10,000 to 15,000 years ago! Today, we will talk about how oil lamps and oil candles work, which kind of oil lamp wicks to use, and how to make easy and beautiful mason jar oil candles in just minutes!
3 reasons I love mason jar oil lamp:
- So easy yet so pretty, mason jar oil candles take only 2 minutes to make using vegetable oils and water!
- Even safer than candles: if the oil candle is knocked over, the flame would be immediately extinguished by the oil and water. Still, please follow basic safety steps and don’t leave the lamp unattended!
- Bright and long lasting: 1 tablespoon of oil can last 2 hours as an oil burning candle!
These oil lamps can be a practical low cost light source, they are also the perfect easy decorations for dinner parties and festive gatherings!
* Some resources in article are affiliate links. Full disclosure here .
(Update: we made many variations of mason jar oil candles you will see here, plus lots of helpful tips and FAQs at the end, don’t miss ! )
How do oil lamps work?
The earliest oil lamps use vegetable oil as fuel, and later versions of oil lamps burn kerosene or lamp oil drawn up through a wick by capillary action. We will be making the vegetable oil version here.
Which kind of oil and wick to use for oil candles and lamps?
Lamps that use kerosene or lamp oil has wicks specially made for this purpose. These long cotton wicks are not suitable for vegetable oil lamps because cooking oils have high viscosity.
To be honest, I tried some oil candle tutorials with long cotton wicks and vegetable oil , and failed completely! The long wicks simply don’t draw up enough oil and would burn up and and the flame would go out. These floating wicks work beautifully for all cooking oils!
How to make an easy and beautiful mason jar oil lamp in just minutes!
Materials for our DIY oil lamp:
- Large floating wicks: These floating wicks work beautifully and each oil candle wick lasts through many uses!
- vegetable oil: 1 tablespoon of oil can last 2 hours. Olive oil, sunflower oil, canola oil and many others all work well.
- mason jars, glass bottles, water, and some decorative elements such as flowers, pine cones, pebbles, etc.
- You can infuse your oil with herbs, spices or essential oils for a lovely fragrance!
Gather some glass bottles and jars, fill with flowers or other treasures. Cover with water.
NOTE: one of our readers made a very good point- some people are allergic to plants such as Oleander, and Oleander cuttings can be toxic. Although these lanterns are decorative only, it’s a good idea to be extra careful and choose flowers and plants that are known to be safe!!
Pour some vegetable oil on top, till the oil form a layer of about 1/4″ thick.
The large floating wicks come with discs and small waxed wicks. Insert a piece of the waxed wicks half way through the center hole on the disc, and put it on top of the oil layer.
Now light your oil candle and enjoy the beautiful glow!
The flowers and fruits will last a whole week in the water.
Pine cones, pebbles, beads are all great additions too! Red holly berries, cranberries, and conifer clippings are great for the holiday season.
To extinguish the flame, just put the lids on the jars. The floating wicks can stay in there.
An update on some additional tips and FAQs:
- After many uses, the waxed wick will burn off, just replace it with a small piece of pre-waxed wick that you can cut into small pieces. The floating disc can last a very long time.
- some flowers will float to the top, you can hold the stem down with some small rocks, glass beads etc
- add food coloring in the water for a special effect!
- light olive oil and sunflower seed oil burns quite clean, I have not notice smoke except for when they are extinguished.
- fake plants will work too, just keep them away from the flame!
Thanks to everyone who asked these great questions!
Related Article: Easiest DIY Hanging Glass Jar Lanterns
Some more nature inspired fun for you: Make botanical ice luminaries-
Make wreaths without using wreath forms! ( a Dollar Store hack)
Dimensional paper flower lanterns!
Have a lovely weekend everyone! xo
Thanks for this lovely tutorial. Do you know if MCT oil can be used for this craft? I have a bottle that came in a plastic bottle, so I don’t want to consume it, was hoping I can use it for this.
hi Stacey, i have not tried this with MCT oil, but it only takes a tablespoon, so i think it’s worth testing even in a small jar filled with just some water 🙂
Hi love seeing all these grate ideas I will be trying some of them
Dose anyone have any Xmas decorating ideas for my giant pine cone’s looking forward to seeing your great ideas 🎄
hi Julie! here are lots of our favorite pine cone ideas – https://www.apieceofrainbow.com/pine-cone-crafts-decor/ enjoy! 🙂
Great project and even better tutorial!
thank you Kathy! we just got back from a long trip to FL! hope you are having a great week! 🙂
I have enjoyed receiving your email posts. I don’t write and say, “Wow, what great ideas!” I should. Anyone that signs up will be pleased with your beautiful but useful designs. It is well worth it. I appreciate your emails a lot.
I am a CA Nursery (plants) Professional. It looks like you are using oleander as flowers. I cut them as a kid and the sap blistered my hands. I am sensitive to the sap. The smoke of oleander if burned is poisonous. If ingested, it kills. It is beautiful in the lamp. I just don’t know if the sap in the water can taint the oil and then toxins are being off-gassed into the air. I have no idea if it is safe or not in a mason jar oil lamp. https://homeguides.sfgate.com/burning-oleander-produce-poisonous-smoke-75289.html
Hi! thank you so much for bringing this up! i will add your tips to the article! it’s always a good idea to be extra careful! 🙂
wow, this looks so beautiful and amazing. i just love this idea of candle. peoples would love these candle. thanks for sharing this article about magical mason jar oil lamp.
Hi, I was wondering whether the wicks have to be waxed or just a regular wick (without wax) will do?
hi Cindy! i have tried regular wicks and they didn’t work for vegetable oils. i think you see them with lamp oil because it’s a lighter oil to wick up! 🙂
I used jute twine and it burns fine. You have to soak the wick in the oil for at least 15-20mins before burn it.
thank you so much Jade for sharing this tip! soaking the wick sounds like a great idea! 🙂
So I’ve made my first jar as a trial run for some Christmas gifts but after one day my water looks brown and Murky… I have cinnamon pine cones and cinnamon sticks… is that where I’m going wrong? Already had them on hand… any suggestions!! I bought too much stuff to turn back now!
hi Mallary! yes cinnamon would change the color of the water! pine cones are ok. maybe tie the cinnamon sticks outside the jar kind of like this? – https://www.apieceofrainbow.com/diy-snow-frosted-mason-jar-decorations/
Love this idea. I definitely want to try. How much water do you pour into the jar? Just enough to wet the items inside or until the water line is above them? Maybe I missed something in the directions.
hi Katelyn! yes the water line should be above the objects then you can add a thin layer of oil on top. 🙂
the oil candles are so beautiful and perfect for summer! love the ones with flowers!
Hi, this is a beautiful, eco-friendly idea! Am wondering if you have a recipe for just making candles without the decorations?
hi caroline, if you want to make oil candles, just skip the decorations. if you are looking for wax candle recipes, we will be creating some tutorials soon!
Love this idea! How do you get the pine cones to not float, though?
hi becki! some pinecones are heavier, and it really helps if there is a piece of stem attached so it is easier to be held down by small rocks. hope that helps! 🙂
beautiful! thank you for sharing.
LOVE this mason jar craft!!!
Anything we can maybe add to the water to preserve the botanicals a little bit longer, like citric acid, or sugar perhaps? I think I will try and see
hi Sam, that’s a great question! please share your test findings if you’d like, and we will do the same!
Love these! Want to try some when my peony roses bloom! I have read in several articles where adding oil to water can make your lamp cloudy and possibly cause bacteria to grow in the vegetation. Have you had that problem with any of yours?
i only keep fresh flowers and leaves in the water for 3 days to a week, and then wash everything to start fresh. 🙂
Would love to make these for gifts. Is there a problem in transporting them? Not thinking of mailing, lol. Just transporting in my car. Perhaps make up, put oil in place, but tie on a small gift envelope with the wick and instructions? Have you any suggestions?
LOVE these. I’ve got my wicks and collecting jars.
hi jackie, i think the gift envelope with the wick and instructions is a great idea! 🙂
I am just wondering how many drops of essential oil you would reccomend using? I know its depends on how much scent you’d like or how strong, but on average how manybdrops?
hi julie, i’d say 5-10 drops. 🙂
Unfortunately they don’t sell such wicks in my country 🙁 would standard long cotton wicks work?
hi! you can make a small floating wick easily, it’s just a short candle wick inserted into a small float, for example a slice of wine cork, i have even seen people using a piece of plastic from a bottle! =)
I read that cotton string or cloth should be soaked in salt water and dried before using with vegetable oil.
hi Lydia, i have not tested that, but if you do, please let us know how well it works! sounds intriguing! 🙂
These are fantastic! But is there a way to make the lamps last more than just a week? It would be so neat to make these as Christmas presents, but a week wouldn’t last long enough to give as a gift. Any suggestions?
hi vicki, thank you for the wonderful suggestion! like anything with fresh cut flowers, it would be challenging, but i will think of some ideas and let you know when i find a good alternative! 🙂
Is the water necessary? Or can I just fill the whole jar with the oil? Would using just oil prevent the other things in there from going bad? Thanks!
hi tracy, i don’t think the oil would preserve the fresh cuttings, and water is so much easier to clean up than a jar of oil, and less waste of oil also. 🙂
Hi – can you just clarify which wicks you use? I followed the link in materials and in the article too and it opens up an amazon page, but there are quite a few different types of floating wick. Love your candles – they look amazing! Thank you.
hi karen, thank you! these are the ones i used ( my amazon affiliate link) – http://amzn.to/2jbPFRa
Just love all your ideas and so glad I found you. Using real cranberries and cedar how long will they last? Couldn’t get the tutorial for making pinecones and greenery white. Thanks Amanda.
hi wilma, cedar lasts a month at least. you can use artificial berries because cranberries would not last for a week. 🙂
First I love the candle idea. I have made a couple so far but I am having trouble getting the wick to stay in the center of the jar. Any ideas of what I am not doing correct?
the wick can float to the side sometimes. if the jar sits on a level surface, it should be pretty easy to push the wick more towards center. =)
These are beautiful! I absolutely love the creativity and uniqueness of the candles! 🙂
I love this idea! Can;t wait to make some for my home, and great gift ideas too! I’m curious, which are the fruits/vegetables/flowers/nature pieces I could use that would last the longest amount of time without going bad?
hi emily! the plants with thick leathery leaves last longest =) faux plants are also good for this !
Amazing work Ananda! This is truly a creative side of yours.
Has anyone tried this with clear lamp oil? I purchased some for another project and have lots left over.
Hi! Thank you for sharing the fab project. Would using 100% oil keep real flowers from deteriorating? Thanks!!!!!
hi basielle, i don’t think so, because fresh plant materials can still rot in oil. =)
Hi! Love love love the Mason jars! Question…what can i put in the water to deter and repel these damn mosquitos?? Lemons? Anything else?? Thanks in advance! ?
hi annemarie, i found lemon eucalyptus essential oil to be very effective when we went to florida , more details here http://www.apieceofrainbow.com/make-mosquito-repellent/
although i have not been able to test these oils in the mason jar candles here because we have few mosquitoes in southern california 🙂
What happens to the materials that are used for decoration in the jars? Do they burn or will the wick burn around them? Just curious
hi! they need to be replaced after a week, the water will keep them fresh for about a week, the wick only burns the layer of oil above =)
OMW these are stunning Ananda and thanks for updating the tips. I’ve been looking for something to add to our Christmas table decor and these are perfect.
Thank you so much, great idea!
Thank you for such a beautiful idea. I too made these jars,I used cotton wicks & aluminium foil for making floating wicks.These were perfect!!!!Thankyou once again & Blessings!
thank you so much for sharing!! 🙂
Hey there, none of the links for wicks seem to work, they all just link me back to this article. Do you have a suggestion of where to purchase the ones you use here? Thanks!
hi alder, thanks for letting me know! the link is fixed now! =) if you are still having trouble let me know and i will add one here.
Hej. Jeg synes simpelthen de er så flotte de krukker med blomster og lys. Jeg forsøgte at bestille de såkaldte “store flydende vægger”, men der stod, at de kunne ikke sendes til min addresse, hvordan fik du fat i dine. Har du fundet en dansk butik hvor de forhandler dem.?
hi charlotte, perhaps try to thinly slice a wine cork and insert a candle wick in it? or search if anyone carries floating wicks in your country? =)
This is such a lovely idea! A great way to recycle some old jars and my girls will just love these lamps
This is such a lovely idea! A great way to recycle some old jars and my girls will just love these lamps. E=We are recently trying to recycle everything old and useless ta home and here’s a lovely project for us. Thanks for the inspiration!
They look stunning beautiful, i will try it out for myself!
These are stunning and look so easy to make but where can I get the wicks from thanx
the link is in the materials list in article! =)
Beautiful! quick question- how long do the wicks last on average??
Wow. Must spent a lot of time writting this artical?because its sooo in detail and so great. sooo cute jar. will definitely try out.
thank you. Very beautiful
Can you use any floating candles? I have all sizes. Love how beautiful they all are. Thanks for sharing
hi donita! yes, if you use floating candles instead of floating wicks, there’s no need for the oil. =)
These are all so pretty! I love them all, but the Rose is my favorite. Does vegetable oil burn cleaner? I know with regular oil lamps they can leave a dark spot on the ceiling above. Thanks for sharing your lovely oil lamps. Pinning and sharing!
hi lina, thank you! =) light olive oil and sunflowers oil are among the cleanest. i have not notice smoke at all!
Have you tried silk flowers in these? If so how long do they last and do they bleed the color?
hi shirley, i am sure silk flowers will work great! you may need to weigh them down with small pebbles/rocks. if they are washable, the colors should stay. =)
Beautiful and thank you for sharing
These are gorgeous, and look so simple to make. Thanks for sharing how you did it – Pinned!
Ananda, I swear you come up with the most creative and truly gorgeous diy’s and crafts!! I definitely have a million mason jars around the house that are itching for this upgrade!
These are stunning Ananda. So elegant and beautiful. Thank you and wishing you and your family Happy Thanksgiving. xx
Simply beautiful. All these look amazing!
I love all those ideas. Thank you so much for posting them.
Oh that’s beautiful! I really like those.
So pretty and so easy..thanks for the idea
So creative and beautiful!
thank you lisa! =)
Just so lovely! And magic!
Thank’s and have a nice december time…
hi chamoise! thank you and happy december to you! =) (tried to leave you a comment but can’t find the button! ) xo
Love these!! I actually bought a box of floating candles years ago and never did anything with them. What a great idea!! I’ll be doing this for my Thanksgiving table!! Thank You so much!! Color me excited!!
enjoy and happy thanksgiving Tina! =)
Thank you so much for this idea!! Nothing matches the beauty of candle light. But when it is time to light up my courtyard and home it can get pricey! and unless you use bees wax, it’s not environmentally friendly. I love that I can use what is available in my garden and in my home(oil/mason jars).
enjoy and happy thanksgiving olga! =)
I love this so much!! Being a minimalist and not buying things in packaging, I don’t decorate very much. My favorite place is an olive oil store. They have the most amazing infused olive oils, and I have a garden. This is the absolute most perfect centerpiece! I know how I’m decorating my tables from now on.
thank you kathryn! =)
I liked your mason oil lamps a lot & made two of them too. I did not have floating wicks so I made them from cotton & covered with aluminium foil.It worked perfectly!!!Thankyou.
These are beautiful!
Love these. They are beautiful and look easy.