will vegetable oil burn in a lamp

will vegetable oil burn in a lamp

Will Vegetable Oil Burn in a Lamp?

Vegetable oil has many uses, but most people don’t realize that vegetable oil can also be used to create light. It’s a nontoxic, renewable fuel that is used worldwide in oil lamps and lanterns alternatively to kerosene. But does it work?

How Does it Work?

Oil lamps require an open-top fuel container, with a wick to draw oil from the container and an adjustable flame to control the heat. Containers can range from a large clay pot with a separate wick holder to a small glass votive filled with oil. In small containers such as a votive, the wick itself acts as the container, and the flame is adjustable by dipping the wick in the oil and raising it out of the oil to create a higher flame.

Vegetable oils have been found to be among the most efficient burning, with lower tendencies to smoke or splatter like other oils.

Common Uses of Vegetable Oil in Lamps and Lanterns

Vegetable oil has become the fuel of choice for many oil lamps and lanterns used around the world due to its renewable nature, low cost, and lower environmental impact compared to fossil fuels. Here are some of the most common uses of vegetable oil in lamps and lanterns:

  • Household lighting: Smaller vegetable oil lamps are often used in households for lighting. These lamps are usually fueled by canola or other vegetable oils, which can provide several hours of light for a fraction of the cost of electricity.
  • Emergency lighting: In case of electricity failure, oil lamps can be used to provide emergency light. Oil lamps provide several hours of light, which can make a big difference when trying to see in the dark to work on repairs.
  • Outdoor lighting: Many oil lamps and lanterns are used outdoors, such as campsites, outdoor cooking areas, pathways, and walkways. Like indoors, these lamps provide light in the absence of electricity.

Can Vegetable Oil be Used to Fuel All Oil Lamps?

Not all oil lamps are designed to work with vegetable oil. Many kerosene lamps have a flame-filtering container or nozzle (often glass) that blocks the burning of vegetable oil. This means that unless the lamp or lantern is specifically designed for vegetable oil, it may not work.


Vegetable oil offers a renewable and nontoxic fuel for oil lamps and lanterns. It can provide light for household, emergency, and outdoor uses, with minimal environmental impact. However, it is important to remember that not all oil lamps can be used with vegetable oils, so it’s important to check the lamp or lantern beforehand to make sure it is compatible.

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