We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are Olive Oil Lamps?

By Gregory Hanson
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At HomeQuestionsAnswered, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Olive oil lamps are lamps that burn olive oil for fuel. This type of lamp has existed for thousands of years and offers a convenient and pleasant lighting alternative to both electric lights and lamps fueled with mineral oils. All oil lamps include an oil reservoir of some sort as well as a wick to absorb and disperse the oil from the reservoir. These lamps vary widely in their design, however, and range from the very simple to the ornate and beautiful.

Oil lamps appeared at the very dawn of human history. Potters in the Mediterranean world produced thousands of olive oil lamps, typically in the form of a clay vessel with a central oil reservoir, a handle and a protruding hollow clay tube designed to hold and steady a wick. Oil was poured into the vessel, a wick was inserted and given time to become saturated with oil and then set aflame. Even simpler oil lamps were made by simply dropping a floating wick into a bowl of oil. These lamps could burn for hours and were key parts of household life in the world of ancient Rome.

Modern olive oil lamps have changed relatively little from their ancient ancestors. Any oil lamp can burn olive oil, as it wicks through cloth just as mineral oils do and burns cleanly and pleasantly. Antique hurricane lamps and modern oil candles can both serve as oil lamps if needed. Even tiki torches could be fueled with olive oil instead of citronella oil.

Individuals with a penchant for crafts can make their own lamps easily enough. Glazed clay vessels on the old Roman pattern can be interesting beginner projects. An amateur glassblower could create the body of an olive oil lamp, and finish it with fittings of metal and perhaps a wooden handle. A simple glass jar or metal bowl with wires to hold a wick in place can serve as well, for those people whose aesthetic preferences are simpler.

The key advantage of olive oil lamps is that they are quite environmentally friendly. Olive oil is an eminently renewable resource, and lower-quality olive oil, which burns perfectly well, is typically quite inexpensive and can often be procured for a lower price than petroleum-based lamp oil. The scent of burning olive oil is quite mild, but the curious can experiment with different infusions and can easily produce their own scented oil for use in oil lamps.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By tpdod — On Dec 30, 2013

I made several clay lamps but haven't finished them yet, So I made an olive oil lamp out of a empty wine bottle. I filled it with oil, soaked the wick, and lit it. It burned for a short period of time and then went out. The wick burned out, and no matter what I did, it goes out. How do you keep the thing burning?

By Tomislav — On Aug 05, 2011

@saraq90 - If you are looking for inexpensive small outdoor oil lamps I would check your local dollar store in the candle section. You can usually find some small, round ceramic balls with a cloth-like wick sticking out from the top.

If you are looking for interesting oil lamps I would look for antique oil lams on online auction sites or check out a local antique shop (you never know what you might find). But I would not keep the antique oil lamps outside - they are likely not made for outdoor conditions!

By Saraq90 — On Aug 04, 2011

How fun! I had no idea that you could burn olive oil in these lamps. I always felt oil lamps had a beautifully soft flame (though it sounds like @fify had a bit more than a small flame to gaze at)!

Where would small oil lamps be for sale? I am thinking they would look great on my outdoor tables as they would twinkle against the night but not produce such an overbearing flame as tiki torches sometimes do.

By burcidi — On Aug 04, 2011

What kind of olive oil should I use for an olive oil lamp? I don't want to use the extra virgin I have at home for cooking, it's super expensive!

I should use riviera right, or mix it with another oil to make it more affordable?

Do stores sell olive oil just for olive oil lamps?

By discographer — On Aug 03, 2011

@fify- I think if you purchase oil lamp wicks, that won't happen. Using regular cotton for the wick might have caused the problem. Or you could buy an actual oil bowl that has a little slot for the wick, that would solve the problem as well.

If you like antiques, antique shops usually have very nice oil lamps and they are in perfectly good condition. I also like that I can manipulate the light with these oil lamps. It is a bit harder to clean, I have to take the glass apart and wipe inside because it becomes black from the fire after a while. I also have to trim the wick.

But it still looks great and is a great decorative addition to the house. I always burn it when I have guests over and the older guests start telling stories about the oil lamps they used in childhood.

By fify — On Aug 03, 2011

I have tried making my own olive oil lamp once. I did the same thing mentioned in the article. I just filled a little bowl with olive oil and rolled up some cotton into a wick and put it in the bowl.

It was burning nicely for about half an hour and then I don't know what happened but the entire bowl of oil started burning. There was a huge flame! I freaked out, covered it with a blanket and prevented a huge disaster.

I haven't made one since then! I think it's much safer to use oil lamps with vessels and a place for the wick. I think this prevents the fire from going down into the oil. The bowl becomes super hot too, so if the lamp has a place to hold it, that would be great.

HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.