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How to Make an Oil Lamp Out of an Orange (With Step-by-Step Images)

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I'm a dental hygienist, pyrography artist, avid gardener, writer, vegetarian, world traveler, and many other things!


Orange Lamp

I love finding new, natural ways to do things. When I heard about this idea I just had to try it for myself.

Men, this is an inexpensive and romantic idea for Valentine's Day. The oranges glow a deep, warm orange, burn for up to 24 hours (you can refill them for a few days), and add a personal touch, since you will be making them yourself. Try it out for her (or him) and let me know what they thought!

Unfortunately I ruined this for myself by making my own, but they're quite romantic and give a great ambiance whether it's from a valentine or from yourself! Let your creativity shine through and come up with alternative ideas of your own.

Before You Begin

  • It took me about 10-15 minutes, but take your time.
  • Each orange yields two oil lamps/orange candles.
  • Do not rinse the inside of the orange with water. Oil and water don't mix, especially with a flame involved. The oil will spit and spatter and cause a potential fire hazard.
  • Be smart and teach your kids about fire safety, and what to do in case of a fire. Have a "safe" meeting place in case there's ever an emergency. Make sure your kids know where the fire extinguishers are, and how to dial 9-1-1 (or its equivalent.)
Anything in the citrus family

Anything in the citrus family

Material Needed

What You'll NeedPurpose

An orange, clementine, lemon, lime, or anything in the citrus family

Use the rind to make the oil lamp

A sharp, serrated knife. Other knives will work, but will be more difficult

Cutting the citrus in half

A normal soup or tea spoon

To scrape the pulp and fruit debris out of the orange or citrus

Cutting board or something to cut on that you don't mind juice getting onto

To protect your countertops

Vegetable oil of any kind (olive, canola, peanut, safflower, etc.)

You'll need perhaps 1/2 cup per orange (two oil lamps)

A lighter. If you have one, use a long-stemmed candle (or grill) lighter

To light the oil lamps

Mark a line around the circumference of the orange/citrus

Mark a line around the circumference of the orange/citrus

Step 1: Make a Line

You'll be making two lamps from one orange. I got a little bit artistic and decided to have one short lamp and one taller one. You can make both the same height if you want, but try to draw a line around the middle that you'll be happy with.

You can really get creative here and make interesting designs. Just be sure you'll be able to see the line, cut it out, and separate the two halves of the orange (or another citrus.)

Variations include wavy lines, jagged lines, or a mixture. Have fun with this!

Cut the orange (citrus) in half

Cut the orange (citrus) in half

Step 2: Separate the Two Halves

You might have your own methods, but I just cut straight through the entire orange. Follow the lines you made and take your time!

If you used a line variation from above, remember to only pierce into the middle of the citrus or your design might end up a mess! Be patient and methodical.

Scrape and remove the contents

Scrape and remove the contents

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Feltmagnet

Step 3: Hollow Out the Middle

Be very careful NOT to remove the stem-like growth in the middle of each rind. This will be the wick, and the lamps will not work without them.

My technique was to use the knife to cut around the outer edge, then I cut each segment out (because I wanted to eat them.)

If you don't want to eat the pieces, you can definitely use your fingers to pull the bulk of the fruit out. Consider throwing it outside for the birds and animals.

Remove all the pulp and fruit particles

Remove all the pulp and fruit particles

Step 4: Remove the Pulp

Make sure to scrape out and remove all the pulpy material and fruit, leaving a smooth, clean surface. This will ensure there's no water added to the oil (no sputtering), and also that your orange will last for days (mine dried and never rotted.) Again, make sure to leave the wicks intact!

If you have a microwave, nuke the citrus for 30 seconds or so to try to dry out the wick a little bit. Alternatively, use a blow dryer, paper towel, oven, or etc. You don't want to cook the orange; you just want to make it easier to light the wick.

Carefully fill each rind with oil

Carefully fill each rind with oil

Step 5: Add the Vegetable Oil

Slowly fill each rind up to about 1/4" to 1/2" (0.6-1.3 cm) from the top of each wick. In other words, make sure a small portion of the wick is above the oil. This will be what you light in the next step.

Don't make it too long or the flame will be super tall and out of control. Don't make it too short or it'll get swamped by the oil and go out.

Alternatively, you can purchase and use a citrus-scented oil such as this one. If anyone knows how to make citrus-scented lamp oil, let us know.

Be patient; it can take a few tries

Be patient; it can take a few tries

Step 6: Light the Wicks

Be patient. It definitely took me multiple attempts to light the wicks, especially if they're not fully dry yet.

But keep at it and you'll get a small flame at first (pictured) which, if nurtured with bursts from your lighter, will come into its own.

You'll soon have a pair of amazingly beautiful oil lamps!

PS: After burning them for multiple hours, the orange peels dry and keep their shape indefinitely. As long as there's oil, they'll burn for days or weeks. I see no limit in survival situations (other than oil), and as for day-to-day use, they're easy to make, but using a dried one works well, too.

The finished product!

The finished product!

Step 7: Enjoy Your Mad Skillz

There you have it! A simple DIY craft that will make your home smell amazing.

Video: My Orange Peel Lamps

© 2012 Kate P


Tarrin Lupo from Peterborough NH on December 09, 2014:

The writer of this hub is a genius, I bet she is cute too.

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on December 09, 2014:

Hi Joan. No oil residue seeps out the bottom of the candles. Also over time, the citrus hardens and the cells close off, making it even more watertight (or in this case, oil tight.) Hope that helps..

Joan Miculob on December 08, 2014:

Does it leave a little oil leak?

virthi on January 30, 2014:

This is so interesting and looks awesome..

lesliebyars on January 18, 2014:

I voted up and awesome and will share on pinterest as well. Great idea.

Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on January 18, 2014:

such a cool idea-- everyone loves this!

Tarrin Lupo from Peterborough NH on January 17, 2014:

I love this. awesome.

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on December 15, 2013:

Thanks for all the comments and great new ideas!

@TeVa, I still haven't tried floating them in water, maybe over Christmas break.

@Sehnonimo, I haven't had a problem with them tipping over.. they have always stood upright. I assume though that, before adding oil, you could push the rinds onto a flat surface to make them stay. Hope that works!

Sehnonimo from San Bruno, CA on November 24, 2013:

That is very creative and awesome! I would never have an open flame in my apartment, though - cats and all. The only time we use flames is when we make fondue, and that's a very delicate situation!!

I was wondering what you do to make sure the orange peels don't tilt and cause everything to spill. Have you had this problem, or did I miss a step that mentioned you propping them up?

Thanks for an informative and creative hub!

Prithima Sharma from Delhi, India on November 24, 2013:

oh perfect, informative hub

Sandra on December 26, 2012:

What a lovely, creative idea!

I'm going to try this one day soon.

Thank you for sharing :)

TeVa on December 07, 2012:

Has someone tried it on water? Do they float?

Many thanks for this step by step explanation :)

srk on December 03, 2012:

i really like your lamp its really easy to make and i really wanna try 2 make at home ..

Natasha from Hawaii on October 30, 2012:

This is really cool! I will be making these, for sure. Bookmarking and pinning!

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on October 29, 2012:

Thanks for your stellar comments! They're so fun to make and last forever!

Neela, you add oil inside the hollwed-out orange peel, as explored in the article above :)

neela on October 29, 2012:

what is present in the orange peel that helps in burning?

chloelozano on October 20, 2012:

I love this idea. I am definitely going to have to try it. I like that you can make different size candles based on the type of fruit you use. I will pin this :-)

Kate McBride from Donegal Ireland on October 12, 2012:

This is a great hub-such an original idea to make candles forom oranges. i couldn't figure at the beginning about the wick until I read on. Voted up, useful,interesting and shared on facebook. Thanks :-)

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on September 27, 2012:

I still haven't attempted one from a lemon, but I think having different colors of lamps would be beautiful. Either way though, it's nice to re-purpose something you normally throw away (or, hopefully, compost.)

Thanks everyone for all of your fantastic comments! I hope you give it a try.

Alex Longsword from Nicaragua on September 27, 2012:

Nice trick on how to use organic material. I definitely will use a lot to decorate Christmas nights.

ignugent17 on September 27, 2012:

Wow! Thanks for sharing your creativity. It sure looks very romantic.

Voted up and more! :-)

kikalina from Europe on September 27, 2012:

This is so creative!

Shasta Matova from USA on September 27, 2012:

What a great idea! They look like they glow! I am going to try this.

Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on September 27, 2012:

Great idea here! Love the fact it is all natural and so easy to achieve. Great for families and good to include about fire safety. Definitely giving this a go - loved your step by step guide and pics. voted up more and sharing this cool craft idea anyone can do!!!:-)

Crystal Tatum from Georgia on September 27, 2012:

What an awesome idea! I love this. I'm voting up and sharing.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on September 27, 2012:

What beautiful little lamps! I'm going to make these next time we have friends over for dinner. I've never heard of these's an inexpensive and fun project. I'm going to add a few drops of orange essential oil for extra fragrance. Thank you! Voted up and shared.

maheshpatwal from MUMBAI on June 30, 2012:

Very nice and creative. Never thought oranges can be used in such a way.....

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on June 19, 2012:

Has anyone tried other types of citrus? I'm curious what they'd look like in the dark all lit up.