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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 oil light

Orange oil light

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.

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.

If you make it too long, the flame will be super tall and out of control. If you make it too short, 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.

© 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.

Thanks to everyone for the great comments; and yeah, it is sort of MacGyver-like lol!

Amy L. Tarr from Home on June 19, 2012:

Sounds like something MacGyver would make during a power outage. J/K

It's a great way to recycle the peels.

Sheepsquatch from Springfield, MO on May 29, 2012:

Excellent idea. i will have to try it sometime.

d.william from Somewhere in the south on May 05, 2012:

Excellent and awesome hub. Who would have thunk it? I certainly will be a user of these unique candles. Thanks for sharing.

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on April 11, 2012:

Thank you all very much for your nice comments, and also for sharing. If you think of any other ideas, or come up with some tips I haven't covered, please let us know!

Sushmita from Kolkata, India on April 11, 2012:

Voted up and awesome. Kate, I think I will make candles out of this idea, though that may be bit difficult. I am always looking out for craft ideas to share with children and I think this is a wonderful idea, with some guidance about the knife and all. Thanks for the wonderful hub.

Rinita Sen on April 11, 2012:

This is so interesting and unique! Sharing your hub.

freezbay on April 11, 2012:

You could have the pulp and the outer covering could make an oil lamp. Never had thought of it! Cool! Its the best use of an orange. Here, some put the outer coverings of fruits near the stems of plants to help them grow. Oil lamp.. Great and eco-friendly use of orange peel!!

Ishwaryaa Dhandapani from Chennai, India on April 11, 2012:

Wow! This is an amazing and economical idea! Your instructions are well-explained! The photos are well-captured! Well-done!

Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Awesome. Voted up & Socially Shared.

stessily on February 21, 2012:

Faceless39, Really beautiful! My two favourite oils are safflower and sunflower, so I was pleased to see safflower included in your list of suggested oils.

Thanks for sharing.

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on February 18, 2012:

Thanks again for all the great comments. 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, and as for day-to-day use, they're easy to make, but using a dried one works well, too.

As for floating on water, it's more likely to work when the peels have dried out from use. Let us all know if they float, if you try it!

susanm23b on February 18, 2012:

This looks like so much fun! I really love making things, especially with unusual items. Would this float in large bowl of water--when filled with oil and lit? I wonder...

Thanks for the fun idea :)

Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on February 11, 2012:

Hmm.. so the center membrane is the wick. Pretty ingenious might be good in a power outage if you happened to have citrus fruit and vegetable oil around. Good idea.

Sam on February 07, 2012:

If everything wat that easy… Sometimes you need help. Go to hahaped, for example.

Wendy Finn from UK on February 07, 2012:

Never would have thought of this. Really cool. The glow looks so warm and I bet it smells gorge. Useful indeed.

mvaivata on February 06, 2012:

Wow! These are so neat. I cannot wait to try one!

sasta10 from Manchester, UK on February 06, 2012:

Great article, will definitely try this. I like the glowing effect of the orange. Thank you for sharing your creativity with us.

krosch on February 06, 2012:

Looks like a fun project. I have seen them done once and they were certainly very cool to see up close.

Claudia Tello from Mexico on February 06, 2012:

I find your natural candles a lovely and creative idea.

Ruchira from United States on February 06, 2012:

Hi Kate,

This is so good. I loved this idea. It's like getting aromatherapy from these oranges as well.

i might just try making it. THANK YOU.

voted up as useful

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on February 06, 2012:

My orange peel lamps have lasted 3 days so far and are still holding their shape, and their wicks!

Robin, your idea to float several candles in water sounds awesome! If anyone tries this, let us know if it works! If I have time I'll try this later tonight.

Thanks for all of the positive comments, everyone! And good luck, CZCZCZ!

Duffee on February 05, 2012:

Awesome Idea--I may have to try this!!

Sweetsusieg from Michigan on February 05, 2012:

Awesome!! Thanks so much for sharing, I may just give this a whirl!

Robin on February 05, 2012:

I wonder if you could safely float several of these candles in a wide shallow bowl filled with just enough water to keep them upright or would they tip over and go out or would they soak up the water from the bowl. Something to try and keep a sharp lookout while doing. I think it would be beautiful if it worked with the flickering candleight reflecting in the water. Worth a try some day soon...Great idea, inventive, resourcefull,beautifully photographed, and explaned so clearly. Thanks for the great idea.

Deya Writes on February 05, 2012:

I am definitely going to try this out...although having the citrus scented oils would be an even nicer addition. Great hub, voted up :)

Maddie Ruud from Oakland, CA on February 05, 2012:

What a beautiful and fun project! It's also natural aromatherapy!

Marisa Hammond Olivares from Texas on February 05, 2012:

I tried this works! Thank you for sharing. :)

eye say from Canada on February 05, 2012:

too good not to share ... I just have to

The Finance Hub from Portland, Oregon on February 05, 2012:

Wow beautiful way to decorate from nature! I love it. Voted up, interesting and useful! Hope you enjoy my hubs as well!

CZCZCZ from Oregon on February 05, 2012:

Very cool idea with the orange oil light. I look forward to trying to make these and surprise the wife with something cool, just hope to not burn the house down in the process.

borneo from Austria on February 05, 2012:

Hi! They look really awesome! I found this hub just in time :-) at the end of this years Chinese New Year! Sadly, we don't have much oranges left :-(

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on February 05, 2012:

Yes! You could definitely recycle your veggie oils after cooking. Just be aware that the burning oil will smell like whatever you've cooked in it! Thanks for the great idea, Eye Say!

eye say from Canada on February 05, 2012:

can you use "old oil"? ie oil that was used for cooking french fries, that would normally be thrown out? It could be a great way to use oil instead of throwing it away ...

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on February 05, 2012:

PS: I'm not sure how long they burn; it really depends more on how much oil there is than anything else. Mine burned for 10 hours, at which point it was time for bed. They'll burn until the oil runs out, then they'll go out.

In other news, I've found some citrus-scented lamp oil online. Check around, there might be something more cost-effective out there. Let us know!

eye say from Canada on February 05, 2012:

spectacular - this is an amazing hub - thanks for sharing!

imatellmuva from Somewhere in Baltimore on February 05, 2012:

I'm going to give this a whirl, but I'm going to try to find a citrus scented oiil. I Love this idea!!!

Goyakla from United Kingdom on February 05, 2012:

What a brilliant idea so creative and so clever. Thank you so much for this. We will definitely be making these.

angela p from Richmond, Virginia on February 05, 2012:

This is such a cool idea... love using things around the house to brighten things up a little. Useful hub.

Shuting on February 05, 2012:

I am going to try it though I am not celebrating Valentine's with my boyfriend far away! Thank you!

DIYweddingplanner from South Carolina, USA on February 05, 2012:

I love these! I used a special apple tool and made votive candle holders from apples for the last wedding I did, but this is even cooler. Gonna have to try this!

Sinea Pies from Northeastern United States on February 05, 2012:

Wow! I love this. Can't make my own, though. My husband says I can't be trusted w. fire. LOL He's probably right...I almost burned the house down with a kitchen fire. (That'll be a hub someday.)

But my blog readers would love this. I've started "Tips Tuesday" on my Ducks n a Row blog's Facebook fanpage and I will share your hub with a link. They'll love it. Voted up and beautiful and STUMBLED it too.

Silver Fish from Edinburgh Scotland on February 05, 2012:

Nice hub, fantastic photos.

Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on February 05, 2012:

These oranges are so beautiful. I would have never thought to do this before reading this hub. Thanks for sharing!

richbrayan from London, United Kingdom on February 05, 2012:

WOW ok i think im just gonna repeat what pretty much everyone on here has said. This is such a great thing to do especially during these hard economic times, every little helps. I have never seen anything like this and will surely give it a good go :)

Maude Keating from Tennessee on February 05, 2012:

How long do these burn?

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on February 04, 2012:

Thank you all so much for your fantastic comments, and thanks so much for pinning! Unfortunately mine didn't smell like oranges, I thought it would too. As for stabilization, mine were very stable (I used an organic orange), and I had no need to put them on a dish. Using almond oil (or other scented oils) sounds like a great idea. Let me know if you guys come up with any other tips! Enjoy!

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 04, 2012:

This is a great message about sustainability and using natural items to full advantage, without petroleum produts. Useful during emergencies when the lights go out as well.

Stephanie Henkel from USA on February 04, 2012:

These are beautiful oil lamps, and I'll bet they even give off an orange scent when they burn. Best of all, you can eat your orange and have your lamp, too! Great idea with beautiful photographs!

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on February 04, 2012:

Wow, this is fantastic. I've never seen anything like it and so ecological as well. Voting this Up and Awesome.

Maude Keating from Tennessee on February 04, 2012:

Does it have an orange smell too? I am going to try this also and pin/share it.

Going to get the kids involved.

Stephanie Rivera-Rios on February 04, 2012:

This is such a neat idea!! Definitely trying it out -- Up, and all others:)

SilverGenes on February 04, 2012:

Amazing! I'm definitely trying this - they look beautiful too with the light shining through the peel.

RTalloni on February 04, 2012:

You may get the award of the year for this--I would vote for this project. Well-done, love the make an oil lamp out of an orange craft, and I'm planning to try it very soon. Thanks for posting.

Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on February 04, 2012:

I love this idea, simple yet elegant. I will definitely try this! I am going to "pin" this on Pinterest. Thank for sharing.


cebutouristspot from Cebu on February 04, 2012:

Wow interesting idea. I bet the scent from the orange will make this candle a good addition to any romantic dinner :) Thanks for sharing

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on February 04, 2012:

What a fun idea! I'll bet it smells wonderful. I've got some almond oil that might be nice to try.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 04, 2012:

Very interesting indeed! Does it give out any kind of an orange scent? I would probably want to put the orange into some kind of a dish that would keep it stabilized. Voted interesting and useful.

JS Matthew from Massachusetts, USA on February 04, 2012:

This is so awesome! I have never seen this but I think I might try it! I like how you use the natural wick and the natural oil. This is 100% organic! Very cool photos too. This is worth voting up, interesting, awesome and useful! I will be SHARING!