How to make a vegetable oil candle

Jan 16 2012

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Today I will be showing you how to make an oil burning candle out of items you probably already have at home. The candles use vegetable oil, so the next time your paraffin candle burning “friends” come over, you can be sure to point out your moral superiority with your petroleum-free mood lighting.


  • small jar
  • cotton or linen for wick
  • nail
  • hammer
  • sandpaper (optional)
  • vegetable oil
  • A baby food sized jar or smaller is best, so that you don’t have to fill it with too much oil at a time. The wick should be a loosely woven material. I tried using kitchen twine and it was too tightly wound to effectively suck up the oil. Here I’m using a cotton shoelace, which I’ve found works well. Make sure it’s a natural fibre, you can tell by the way it burns or melts. Melting is bad. Probably best to test this outdoors in a fire-safe manner. I’m just using some canola oil for the fuel because it works and it’s cheap. Olive oil gives off less odour, but the only time I notice the smell of the canola oil is when the candle is blown out. Smells kinda like popcorn.

    This step is optional, but I like to sand off the paint that’s on the surface, for aesthetic purposes.

    See? Looks so much better than having some Scottish dude with a wick in the middle of him.

    Gently hammer just the tip of the nail into the lid, to make a little holes. Hammer small holes as close together as you can, to make a line slightly narrower than your wick material.

    Now hammer the nail all the way through the small hole to widen it. Because your little holes were close together, the full width of the nail should be enough that your holes are joined together.

    See? All joined together. Doing the little holes first then the big holes is much much easier than just trying to make big holes beside each other that will join up. If you don’t trust me, I suggest that you try just going for the big holes. Enjoy your failure!!

    Insert your wick to have about 1/4″ sticking out of the lid. Too long of a wick and it will smoke and burn through oil faster than the appropriately sized wick.

    Fill the jar with oil, and attach lid. The first time using your candle you can either wait for the wick to soak up the oil, or if you are an impatient bastard (like me), just dip the wick into the oil until it’s saturated.

    Light your candle. Revel in your resourcefulness. This little candle, which is probably about 30mL, burned for over 5 hours.

    Here’s a candle I made with a larger jar. I filled the bottom of the jar with water so that I didn’t have to use a mass amount of oil at a time. The reason being that I don’t use these candles every day, so I don’t want to put so much oil in there that it will go rancid before I use it up. I’ve heard of people adding food colouring etc. to the water layer. IMHO that is tacky as shit so don’t do that.

    Please only make these candles if you are capable of handling candles safely. The snarkster and are not liable for any fires that you start.

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    6 Responses to How to make a vegetable oil candle

    1. Slipper Pete says:

      Im going to test all of my fibers indoors near my curtains! Great instruction, i want to make candles now, but i will probably just remain here in the Jabba position.

      • the_snarkster the_snarkster says:

        Oh good, if you remain in the Jabba position then you will not burn your house down, and I won’t have to worry about any lawsuits.

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    4. victoria says:

      What happens if there is any oil spill? Is this dangerous?

    5. pam kneebone says:

      do you need to pull the shoelace wick up as it burns? Have you found any other material that works as a wick?

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