A modern art-glass olive oil lamp, for sale on eBay

Are you tired of candles?

There was a time, years ago, when many candles I bought for my altar were simply terrible. Some of them wouldn’t stay lit for sour apples. Many of them simply stank. After investigation, experimentation and simple re-tooling I switched to vegetable-oil lamps. I have never looked back.

Now, you can buy oil lamps, but the fuel either stinks (kerosene) or runs into money (odor-free “lamp oil” or “clean fuel,” actually ultra-refined kerosene). There are “oil candles” with fiberglass wicks, but these also burn kerosene.

Replica of 8th-century BCE Greek olive-oil lamp, for sale on eBay as of this writing

Oil lamps designed for Hanukkah or Diwali burn vegetable oil and are beautiful, but these can run into money because they are often sold in multi-packs. You can even get pre-filled Hanukkah menorah lights. You could certainly drop a pinch of herbs into the oil and whisper a prayer, and use them in spiritual work. My other problem with these is that they all have unshielded open flames, which could be blown out by a passing breeze or start a house fire.

So I make my own oil lamps. Most of my materials come from my kitchen or the thrift store.

Let’s get to work!

Assemble these materials:

The actual lamp:

  • A rocks glass
  • A shot glass
  • A floating wick, like these
  • or a holder and wick suitable for an oil-lamp menorah; I use these
  • vegetable oil
  • herbs and oils appropriate to your spellwork


  • Tissue paper, wrapping paper and/or glitter
  • Candle label
    • You can also select and print out any other copyright-free images you like
  • Mod Podge, which is a glue especially for decoupage.
  • Brushes to apply Mod Podge.
    • You need special brushes because Mod Podge is really difficult to remove from a standard paintbrush. I use these wide decoupage brushes  or these narrow decoupage brushes. You will have no trouble cleaning them if you submerge the bristles in clean water IMMEDIATELY after use, and let them sit overnight.

Inspiration and learning:

Seek education and inspiration with YouTube videos. Search for “Decoupage Vase”. This one is a good place to start:

Rice paper vase by Aggies Crafts

A homemade lamp assembled, decorated and lit

Assemble the lamp:
Place a tiny sprinkle of herbs, bath crystals or incense powder, and/or a few drops of condition oil, in the shot glass. If you’re using a floating wick, fill the glass about half full of oil first, then drop the wick in.

Place the shot glass in the decorated rocks glass.

Take it all to your altar and do the work.

1/2 to 2/3 of a shot glass of oil will burn for about 4 hours.

Homemade olive oil lamps on the Justice Altar at Caroline Dye Memorial Chapel

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