Lighting Hacks

When camping or in the dark due to a power outage, having a way to extend small light sources can be the difference between seeing and stumbling, or between dimly seeing other’s faces and reading. At the same time, sometimes it takes a hack to have light at all!

Battery Operated Christmas Lights

Of course, this will necessitate having extra batteries available, or having a battery recharger and rechargeable batteries, but stringing up some strings of Christmas lights around a room, tent, or other area will provide a fair amount of usable light.

Candle Lantern

If you have a lantern that holds a candle, it can be hung from the center of a tent or set on a table to provide candlelight. It can also help to add heat in lower temperatures. Multiple candle lanterns hung around an area can give enough brightness for reading, playing games, or other pursuits.

Candle Stakes

Soften a taper candle enough to push a dowel into the bottom of it and then it can be stuck into the ground wherever it is needed, providing light in a yard or other outdoor area. For an added bonus, use citronella candles and they will also repel mosquitoes!

Crayon Candle

A single crayon, set upright, can be lit and will burn for about an hour, making it a small but easy to use candle in a pinch.

Glow in the Dark Lanterns

Glow sticks can be broken and added to jars, water bottles, or pop bottles (with a bit of water) to make glowy lanterns that will light up small areas.

Another option is to take empty jars and line the inside with glow-in-the-dark paint. “Charge” them during the day in the sunshine, and they will glow for quite a long time at night.

Glow Sticks

Glow sticks are a fun camping accessory, and they can be great for shedding light around an area. They can be attached to trees or other places to mark paths, and usually last a full night.

Milk Jug Hack

Turn a headlamp light toward the bottle, after filling it with water, to diffuse and redistribute the light. Because the water will reflect and refract the light, it tends to result in more light, spread farther, than the original light would do by itself. It turns it into a nice bright lantern.


If people have pocket sized mirrors, these can be placed behind lights to increase the amount of light.

Orange Candle

In a pinch, an orange can be cut in half across. Remove the insides (and eat them!), being careful to leave the center white inner peel piece that sticks up. Add oil of any kind to the resulting orange bowl and light the center, which will burn like a wick.

Pocket-Sized Oil Lamp

A miniature shampoo bottle or other trial sized bottles can be filled with any sort of oil that will burn for about six hours. It is possible to adjust the size of the flame. If the container is plastic, a metal socket that fits the neck will prevent the heat from melting the bottle; a copper wire can be formed into a spring to keep the socket from falling into the bottle. A cotton wick made from an old rag or towel will bring the oil up to burn; the wick itself will not burn unless the oil runs out. For a brighter flame, a bit of salt can be added to the oil.

Pop-Can Candle Holder

Cut the upper sides of a pop can into strips and spread them. Insert a candle into the bottom of the pop can and light it. The spread metal sides will aid in reflecting the light to cover a greater area.

Pop-Can Oil Lamp

An empty soda can can be used to make an oil lamp by adding about six ounces of oil and making a wick out of a twisted paper towel. Once the paper has soaked up some oil, light it and it will burn for quite a while.

Where to Buy
Tough Light LED Rechargeable Lantern - 200 Hours of Light from a Single Charge, Longest Lasting on Amazon! Camping and Emergency Light with Cell Phone Charger - 2 Year Warranty
Solar Powered, Crank Dynamo, Battery Operated Lantern- 4 Ways to Power- 180 Lumen 36-LED with Adjustable Settings for Camping, Emergency by Whetstone
ThorFire LED Camping Lantern Lights Hand Crank USB Rechargeable Lanterns Collapsible Mini Flashlight Emergency Torch Night Light Tent Lamp for Camping Hiking Tent Garden Patio - CL01
Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 Lantern and USB Power Hub
Kaito KA249W Multi-Functional 4-Way Powered LED Camping Lantern with AM/FM NOAA Weather Radio & Cell Phone Charger


1. Rechargeable Lantern

USB rechargeable, this light will stay brightly lit for up to 200 hours (on low setting) on a charge. It will stay charged on the shelf for up to 9 months.

Solar Candleabra

Create a solar candelabra by getting a metal candle holder and enough solar lights to fill the spaces. Remove the solar lights from their stakes and secure them in the candle holder to provide extra light in an area overnight, then recharge in the sunshine. Both parts can be decorated with spray paint or other options if desired.

Trick Birthday Candles

Because the trick birthday candles are easy to light and hard to put out, these can be an excellent choice for a quick bit of light that lasts several minutes.

Tuna Can Oil Lamp

Purchase tuna packed in oil for this one. Poke a hole in the center of the lid and add a wick – a paper match or a bit of cotton – and it will burn from the oil in the can for hours.

Wind-Up Lights

2. 4-Way Power Lantern

The rechargeable battery in this water-resistant lantern can be charged by cranking the handle, putting the unit in the sun, or plugging in to electricity. If necessary or desired, the lantern can also be powered by three AAA batteries.

3. Collapsible Hand Crank Lantern

Easy to store and powerful for lighting, this lantern is collapsible. It can be charged by the hand crank or by plugging it in to a USB port. Two levels of brightness can give more light or light for longer.

4. Lighthouse 400 Lantern and Power Hub

This lantern can be recharged with a solar panel or a hand crank. It contains a USB port that can charge mobile devices. The design includes reflective surfaces to increase usable light.

5. Lantern with AM/FM Radio

This lantern has a hand crank for recharging as well as a weather radio. It can recharge mobile devices. The super bright LED bulbs are long lasting.