Lemon-filled Olive Oil Lanterns

Lemon-filled Olive Oil Lanterns

After a recent conversation with Tim regarding our winter preparations, I started doing some research on inexpensive types of homemade candles or lamps.  Last year we had a horrible snow and ice storm dumping over a foot of snow on the roads and power lines.  Our property is at the end of the line, so any power outages means that we will be the last ones to have our power restored.  This all boils down to us needing to be more prepared for a long power outage.

Using what I already had inside the house along with some lemons given to me at church this past Sunday, I was able to spend just a few dollars on some very economical (and pretty) oil lanterns.

The great thing about these little lamps is that they can burn smoke-free for many, many hours.  If the oil starts to get low, just refill.  Also, you can continue to reuse the container and just add a new wick.


Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1Wire the Wick

Loosely twist your wire around the wick leaving a small portion at the top in order to light on fire.

Step 2Center the Wick in Jar

Center your wick inside your container then bend the wire over the side to anchor it into place.

Step 3Arrange Lemon Slices in Jar

Next, slice your lemons to your desired thickness and place them inside your container arranging them in a way to cover the sides without taking up the bulk of room inside the container.  You will need to leave room to fill with as much oil as possible.

Step 4Fill Jar with Oil

After you’ve arranged your lemon slices the way you want, carefully fill the container with your oil.  Let your wick soak up the oil for at least 15 minutes before you attempt to light it.  Not only are the lemons pretty but they also help scent the oil so it will give off a soft lemon fragrance the longer they soak in the oil.  L

Comments (29)

  • crystalpoe Reply

    This is just a thought, and I haven’t researched it any, but with kids, I’m sure you all have plenty of broken crayon pieces. You could probably melt them down and make layered, colored candles just to have on hand for lighting. They wouldn’t smell pretty or be good for medicinal uses, but they would probably work. If nothing else, cheap Christmas presents!

    October 9, 2013 at 2:52 pm
  • Amy Kinnard Reply

    Not a bad idea, Crystal! I actually found some household wax inside my baking cabinet today and realized that you can make candles out of that too. I’ve always just used it when making bon bons because you have to melt the chocolate and wax together to make a coating for them. Can’t remember how much the household wax is since I only purchase a box about every four years or so because it lasts such a long time. It’s fun to think that you can make a candle out of just about any empty container you want and add your favorite essential oil to give it a specific fragrance. Wonderful, inexpensive gift idea!

    October 9, 2013 at 4:00 pm
  • Jennifer Bellis Reply

    How long does the fresh fruit last in the oil lamps? I am trying to find shelf life of this, but most people suggest dried or fake fruit. I would much rather use real fresh, but drying is an option. I’m just not sure if any of those items, fresh or dried, would rot in the oil, and if so, then would you change out the oil completely? Thanks ;)

    June 11, 2015 at 9:54 pm
    • Amy Kinnard Reply

      It all depends on how long you keep the fruit completely covered with the oil. Any portion that is exposed to the air will start to mold like normal, so you would have to clean out the jar and start over. The oil works like a preserving agent, so it can potentially make the fruit last for 6-12 months if not longer.

      January 22, 2018 at 11:29 am
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  • Patricia Renwick Reply

    Great idea. We have our own olive oil. I was scared about the glass containers breaking though. Now to see where I can find some lantern wicks! The electricity often goes off here.

    September 9, 2015 at 7:34 am
  • Ashley Reply

    May be a good idea if you poked a hole in the top of the metal lid and threaded the wick thru it. Just tie a knot in the wick to keep it from falling in.

    March 30, 2016 at 9:13 am
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  • Diane Reply

    Hi can you use any jar for this? i. e old jam jar?

    January 8, 2018 at 3:57 pm
  • Geneva Sumrall Reply

    This is great I’m gonna try this but I’m gonna use an orange

    January 12, 2018 at 10:36 am

    How long will the lemons (other items) last before they would start to rot?

    November 19, 2018 at 9:36 am
    • Amy Kinnard Reply

      As long as the fruit is completely covered, it shouldn’t rot because the oil is working as a preservative. If it comes into contact with air, then it could start to rot in a few weeks/months.

      November 19, 2018 at 7:52 pm
  • Jennifer Klein Reply

    I have been trying to find instructions for these for my upcoming wedding and am so grateful for this post, thank you! I was recently in Thailand and saw these floating wooden candles on tables, they used water and then oil at the top so that the level could be higher without having to be pure oil. I was bummed when I couldn’t find any before I left though, this us a perfect and more beautiful solution! Have you tried using water on the bottom and just topping it with oil? I’d imagine it won’t preserve the fruit, but for a one time occasion with 40 needed, it might be a cheaper option than going all oil. Thanks for any insight you have, I’m so happy to have found your post! Merry Christmas!

    December 24, 2018 at 4:35 am
    • Amy Kinnard Reply

      That’s a fantastic idea for conserving the amount of oil needed! I have never tried putting the water in first then oil. No, it won’t preserve the fruit, but my theory is that the fruit will still last for a few days as long as it is completely covered. It may start to ferment like when making homemade apple cider vinegar with apple skins and cores. Contact with air is what causes mold to grow. Not sure how long the wicks will last because the oil works to feed the flame and not burn through so fast. Post an update and even a pic to show how yours turn out. Many blessings on the wedding!!

      February 11, 2019 at 6:51 am
  • Nancy Reply

    I have Sunflower/Olive oil & a jar of Canola oil. Will either of these oils work? Thanks!

    February 11, 2019 at 3:52 am
    • Amy Kinnard Reply


      February 11, 2019 at 6:43 am
  • Lynda Reply

    I really like this idea. I wonder how safe it is though. Is this oil candle a fie hazard, could it catch on fire easily?

    March 28, 2019 at 9:26 am
    • JulsOfParadise Reply

      That’s what I’m thinking.
      I wouldn’t want the risk of a potential fire.
      How about a battery operated camping lantern?

      April 2, 2020 at 9:18 am
    • Amy Kinnard Reply

      Any type of candle or lantern that uses a flame is going to be classified as a potential “fire hazard.” Anyone using an open flame for any purpose should always use common sense and caution.

      May 25, 2020 at 10:42 am
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  • Nicole Reply

    Could you do this but instead of sliced citrus fruit use cinnamon sticks or freshly picked lavender? Would those things soaked in oil also give off a slight aroma?

    November 22, 2020 at 3:08 pm
    • Amy Kinnard Reply

      That’s going to depend on how long you allow those types of ingredients to steep before you begin burning off the oil. It would be the same process used in making infused oils for medicinal salves, soaps, etc. However, infusing oils is not done solely to create “scent” but to absorb the health-promoting compounds of the plant, so I’m not 100 percent sure as to how strong a lavender or cinnamon stick would become over time. The oil in this particular lantern project is there to burn and to preserve the fruit slices. You can use just about anything as a filler for your lantern as long as it is completely covered by the oil to preserve it.

      November 23, 2020 at 7:16 am
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