How To

Survival DIY: 7 Steps to Building an Aluminum Lamp

Step 7 B Survival Lamp 7-29-16

A DIY survival lamp can come in handy for many situations. Not only can it provide a needed light source during a power outage, but you could cook food over it in a pinch, or use it to take the chill out of the air during a cold evening.

This lamp burns on petroleum jelly, or what most people know by the brand Vaseline. The wick of this lamp is a cotton ball, and the lamp’s base and structure is made from aluminum foil.

It’s easy to construct and can burn anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour; the duration varies on how much Vaseline is in the lamp. Let’s get started.

You’ll need:

  • Knife
  • Two large sheets of aluminum foil
  • Vaseline
  • Cotton ball
  • Match, lighter, or flint and steel


  1. Fold up one sheet of foil as shown in the picture below.

Lamp Step 1 7-29-16

  1. In the middle of the foil, cut in a circle with your knife, but cut only halfway through the foil. Vaseline will be placed in that hole.

Lamp Step 2 7-29-16

  1. Fold up the extra length of the foil as shown below.

Lamp Step 3 7-29-16

  1. Place a large amount of Vaseline in that circular hole. The more you use, the longer the lamp will burn.

Lamp Step 4 7-29-16

  1. Dip a cotton ball in Vaseline and then spread it all over the ball. Place the cotton ball into the Vaseline-filled hole in the foil.

Lamp Step 5 7-29-16

  1. Fold the second sheet of foil in the same manner as the first piece. Place the second sheet of foil under the first as shown below.

Lamp Step 6 B 7-29-16

  1. Light the cotton ball with the fire igniter of your choice. After a few seconds, the lamp should burn intensely.

Lamp Step 7 A 7-29-16

Lamp Step 7 Final 7-29-16

Warning: Keep this aluminum lamp away from any flammable objects. I recommend placing it on a rock when used outdoors while camping, or a cookie sheet or other metal object when used indoors. I suggest making an aluminum survival lamp for each room in your home so you’re prepared for a power outage.

Images by Blake Alma

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of OutdoorHub. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.
  • t_reese

    Or you could just stay prepared with a good supply of flashlight and batteries and leave the fire hazard to someone else.

    • Jim Biasotti

      LOL- yes and make sure an open the windows and let all the cold air in….

  • Kristin Chester

    This is an article for people who really go camping…not you guys who go glamping lol