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

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3 thoughts on “Survival DIY: 7 Steps to Building an Aluminum Lamp

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

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