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!

materials to make mason jar oil lamp and candles

3 reasons I love mason jar oil lamp:

  1. So easy yet so pretty, mason jar oil candles take only 2 minutes to make using vegetable oils and water!
  2. 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!
  3. Bright and long lasting: 1 tablespoon of oil can last 2 hours as an oil burning candle!
Easy and beautiful mason jar oil lamp in 2 minutes using long lasting oil candle wicks, vegetable oil & water! Perfect DIY lighting & table decorations!

* Some resources in article are affiliate links. Full disclosure here .

These oil lamps can be a practical low cost light source, they are also the perfect easy decorations for dinner parties and festive gatherings!

(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 ! )

Make gorgeous oil lamp from mason jars and glass bottles. Safer than candles, it takes only 2 minutes to make using vegetable oils and water!

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.

vegetable oil to make oil candles

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!

DIY mason jar oil lamp step 1: gather materials

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!
christmas table centerpiece with mason jar oil lamp and candles, pine cones, berries, lemons

Step 1:  gather some glass bottles and jars, fill with flowers or other treasures. Cover with water.

fill mason jar with water, and add elements like oranges or flowers

Step 2: pour some vegetable oil on top, till the oil form a layer of about 1/4″ thick.

floating oil lamp wicks to make mason jar oil candles

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!

Make gorgeous oil lamp using flowers,  these oil candles are great for wedding decor

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.

farmhouse style mason jar oil lamp and candles

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:

water candles with mason jar, oil candle wicks, and natural elements
  • 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 

The easiest & super charming DIY hanging mason jar lights using up-cycled glass bottles and dry cleaners wire hangers. Detailed step by step tutorial! - A Piece of Rainbow

Some more nature inspired fun for you: Make botanical ice luminaries-

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Make wreaths without using wreath forms! ( a Dollar Store hack)

30+ super creative, gorgeous, up-cycled DIY Christmas wreaths with great tutorials! Acorns, tin cans, old books, egg cartons can all become great wreaths!

Dimensional paper flower lanterns!

Make these stunning Dandelion paper lanterns with up-cycled plastic bottles and paper! Free printable download in this easy and fun paper craft tutorial! | A Piece Of Rainbow

Have a lovely weekend everyone! xo

84 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

    • 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! 🙂

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. 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! 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.

  6. 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! 🙂

  7. 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. 🙂

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

    Thanks

    • hi carol!
      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. =)

  11. 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?

  12. Hi! Thank you for sharing the fab project. Would using 100% oil keep real flowers from deteriorating? Thanks!!!!!

  13. 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! ?

  14. 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 =)

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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!

  18. 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.?

    Charlotte. Frederikshavn.

    • 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? =)

  19. 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!

  20. 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 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. =)

  21. 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!!

  22. 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).

    Thanks again.

  23. 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.

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