Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Vegetable Oil Burners and Lamps

My guilt about the oil in my food storage going rancid drove me to find a way to recycle it rather than tossing the investment out the window. I found some interesting ideas on how to use it for fuel to cook indoors and for lighting a shelter. It may give off a slight odor, but in an emergency with no power, I will appreciate the light and cooking it offers. By the way, Buddy Burners (tuna cans stuffed with a roll of cardboard and filled with wax or animal fat) if used indoors will set off your smoke detectors. I needed to improvise a type of indoor burner using the old oil that didn't put off a ton of smoke.

Oil & Sand Burner
This burner is made from a tuna or cat food can by pouring oil into a can half full of sand. Using a toothpick for a wick you wrap it with cotton and stick it into the sand filled can of oil. I used a can with a low profile and inserted three wicks. It boiled water fairly quickly.

Vegetable Oil Lamp
This is as simple as placing a wick into a bottle, filling it with oil (or shortening) and lighting it. Wicks can be purchased at a hobby store, or made from twine wrapped around a thin piece of wire. I used a couple of nails and wired them together criss-crossed to create a stand for the bottom of the bottle and then attached the homemade wick. You can even wrap wire around the lip of the jar and make a handle to hang or carry it. Who says guilt is a bad thing?


I decided to give it a try. If it didn't work, oh well. Guess what? I made a car battery powered low watt spotlight. I will use this makeshift light if a power outage outlasts my candles, or we need to shelter inside a small room and don't have enough ventilation for candles. Let me walk you through how I did it. By the way, if I can do it, anyone can!

First, gather some supplies:

Light bulb in socket, and spare bulbs
Wire, high-resistance
Battery clamps
Wire connectors
Tools to strip the wires and to crimp the battery clamps onto the wire

Always use the same light bulb voltage as your battery. Since my car battery is 12 Volts, I used the 12 Volt bulbs in my landscape lights. In fact, I used the landscape light. You can also purchase small 12 volt bulbs and sockets at a radio supply store. LED lights draw the least amount of power from your battery, and are the brightest.

I used some old speaker wire we had laying around but you could use high-resistance door bell wire and anything in between.

Measure then cut the length of wire you need to extend from your car battery to where you will use the light. I plan to bring the car battery inside.

Separate the two strands of high resistance wire on both ends and strip them to expose the bare strands of wire.

Now strip the ends of the landscape light wires, to expose the bare strands of wire.

Then connect the landscape light wires to the ends of the high resistance wires using cap connectors.

Next, connect the battery clamps to the other end of the exposed wires and crimp down on the ends to secure the wire.

When you are finished test it out by connecting the positive and negative clamps to your car battery posts. The light should come on. If it doesn't you may have to replace the light bulb.

Consider how you will position the landscape light in the room. Will you mount it to a wall, hang it from the ceiling, attach it to a stand? Have the supplies on hand to secure the light into a useful position. You might also consider adding mirrors, white boards or reflective material, such as aluminum foil to better reflect the light.

Now you are ready to light up a room for reading or playing games while you wait for the power to be restored.