Old-Fashioned Oil Lamps

July 29, 2008 Updated: October 1, 2015

An alternative to expensive air fresheners

Old-fashioned oil lamps are an alternative to expensive air fresheners. (sophie/Stock Xchng)
Old-fashioned oil lamps are an alternative to expensive air fresheners. (sophie/Stock Xchng)
We all like to personalize living spaces. The fragrance of the air in your home is also a matter of personal taste. The first thing people notice when entering a home is the scent. As a result, many people go to great lengths and often spend too much money making sure the air is pleasant for themselves and their guests.

As you stroll the aisles of a specialty store for candles or body care, it’s easy to become frustrated by the inflated prices on imported goods that turn out to be, more often than not, of mediocre quality. Incense can be inexpensive, but it creates irritating smoke and messy dust that does not always collect itself nicely in most incense burners. Good-quality candles are overpriced.

There are also many brand name air-freshening devices, such as the plug-in type with a cartridge. In order to continue operating at full capacity, these periodically require the purchase of a refill cartridge of the same brand. Rarely are they compatible with other brands. And then, you are still left to choose from a limited variety of fragrances. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Essential oil diffusion has been popular in recent years. However, you can also end up spending too much time and effort in diffusing the oil. A simple and inexpensive way to diffuse essential oil to freshen the air is to make your own old-fashioned oil lamp. All you need is a small glass jar, some olive oil (or any other cooking oil), some thin material (such as hemp), and your favorite essential oil.

An advantage of using a glass jar with olive oil is that olive oil burns clean and bright, and it can not only provide more fragrant air, but can also be another source of light. Olive oil also doesn’t produce any smoke or odor and won’t aggravate allergies. Another bonus in using olive oil is it can’t catch on fire if tipped over.

 If you’re interested in this idea, a great place for some resources is Lehman’s Market, http://www.lehmans.com. There you can inexpensively purchase all the materials needed as well as find more detailed instructions. 

Two books I would recommend are: I Didn't Know That Olive Oil Would Burn by Merry Cosliss and The Book of Non-Electric Lighting: Safe, effective use of all types of lights and fuels by Tim Matson. Both books provide step-by-step instructions and are comprehensive guides to safely use and maintain oil lamps. For those interested in knowing more about different lighting options, Matson book includes many aspects of using non-electric lighting.