I’ve always wanted an oil menorah to use in my home at Hanukkah. But I thought oil burning menorahs were difficult to make/use. Turns out they are super simple! Here’s how we made ours.
Making an Oil Menorah is Easier than Most Candle Burning Menorahs!
In the past when I researched turning a regular candle into an oil burning one, I came across all kinds of fiddly wicks, metal contraptions and glass candle cups. The literature told me I would have to source the “right” kind of olive oil, or else… what? My house would burn down? The Maccabees would rise and haunt me? It was so confusing that it made me want to run for the hills. Candles were just fine, I decided.
Then, last year I happened to be in Israel just before Hanukkah. In addition to doing a whole lot of donut spotting and sufganiyot testing, I discovered the secret to oil menorahs, that Israelis have know about for years.
Pre-filled oil cups.
Seriously, these are as easy as using candles. In fact they are easier, because there is no drippy mess whatsoever. The oil burns cleanly for a few hours and the cups are empty. I bought up several packages of these modern marvels and brought them home in my luggage. I was afraid I’d never see them again.
But good old Amazon has pre filled oil candle cups in stock. Hallelujah!
Note: affiliate links below – this doesn’t change the price you pay but does mean I get a small percentage when you click through and shop from my site. This helps to offset the cost of running this site.
Colored Oil Candle Cups are another option if you want to add a little pop of color to your celebration
Now onto the fun part… Making your Oil Menorah
What You’ll Need to Make the Oil Menorah
- 6 ft section of 1/2 inch standard copper pipe cut into
- 8 – 6 inch pieces
- 1 – 8 inch piec
- Pipe Cutter
- 2×2 wood cut to the desired length of the base of your oil menorah. We used oak, and cut the base to 13 inches.
- Steel Wool
- Sand Paper
- Stain wipes I like the simplicity of these for such a small project.
- Drill with a 5/8 inch bit. We used a Forstner bit to make flat bottomed holes.
- Ammonia for antiquing and patina process (if desired)
Steps To Make the Oil Burning Menorah
Using the pipe cutter, cut your copper pipe into 9 sections. 8 pipes will be 6 inches long, and the center pipe will be 8 inches long. After the pipe is cut, use the steel wool to polish the copper. You can stop here and leave the copper shiny and bright. Seal with some spray on poly varnish if you don’t want to shine the pipes up again next year.
Optional Step – Adding a Patina to Your Oil Burning Menorah
We decided to pursue a more patina-ed finish and antiqued our copper piping using the “Ammonia fume” method. This involves:
- Dampening the pipes with vinegar
- Rolling them in salt
- Placing them in an airtight container along with an open glass of cleaning ammonia.
- Leaving them there for a day or so – the ammonia fumes react with the copper and cause a blue/green patina to form
- Sealing the patina with a clear poly spray varnish
Making the Base of the Oak and Copper DIY Oil Menorah
Measure across the base from front to back and find the center point, and mark the center point with a chalk pencil. Next, measure across the base from left to right and mark the center line with a chalk pencil. This chalk line serves as your “center beam.” You will be placing all the marks for the holes on the center beam, spaced evenly.
Now measure 3/4 inches in from the right and left edges. Mark the spots for the outermost pipes. Then mark the placements for the six additional pipes, making sure all the pipes are evenly spaced and marks are placed on the “center beam”
Drill the holes on the center beam, with the 5/8 inch bit, making the holes one inch deep. Sand the interior of the hole, if necessary to ease the fit of the pipe.
Note: In order to achieve a looser fit with a tighter grip at the base, you can also drill each hole a second time. Place the second hole 1/8 inch back from the center beam, and only drill to a depth of 7/8 inches.
Once you are done making the holes, it’s time to stain the base!
Putting Your Oil Burning Menorah Together
One of the nice things about this simple menorah is that it is very easy to assemble and disassemble. The pipes and base can be stored flat and compactly in a bag. That makes this menorah easy to gift and travel with. There is also some flexibility in how to arrange it. You may place the “Shamash” or tallest pipe at the end, or in the center of the menorah.
When it’s time to light this menorah, you need only place the oil cups into each of the pipes, and it is time to recite the Hanukkah Blessings!