Turn an Orange Peel into a Candle

Grade Levels: 1 - 5

Posted: September 03, 2020 | Updated: September 03, 2020
Created by: Schoolhouse by the Sea

Download our printable instructions for written and pictorial directions designed for young scientists!

Printable Instructions (PDF)


  • Orange
  • Knife
  • Oil (approximately ⅓ cup, depending on the size of your orange)
  • Matches or a lighter
  • Spoon (optional)


  1. Cut the orange in half.

    • Be sure to cut along the smooth circumference of the orange and not to cut from “top” to “bottom” (along the knots/indentations in the orange, where the stem is).
  2. Remove the fruit from the peel.

    • Be careful to leave the stem! It will be your wick and it runs through the center of the orange. Use a spoon to remove the fruit from the sides of the peel, then twist gently to separate the fruit from the stem. This may take some practice!
  3. Pour oil into the half of the orange with the longer stem.

    • Fill the orange about halfway with oil. Make sure the stem is standing straight up.
    • Optional: cut a pretty design in the top of the other half of the orange. This can block the wind for your candle so that it can burn longer!
  4. Light the wick.

    • This may take a few tries! Be patient. Often, you can light your orange candle right away, but if the fruit of the orange was particularly juicy, it will light better if you give it time to dry. Waiting 12 hours or so (overnight) often does the trick.
    • Your candle should last for about 6-8 hours! For extra fire safety, place it on a plate or in a bowl where it can safely complete its burn. Your orange candle will float (unless it has a hole!) so placing it in water can be extra special. Floating bath candle, anyone? (If highly supervised, of course.)
Only light a candle with an adult’s permission and presence.
Keep loose hair or clothing away from the flame!

Written Orange Peel Candle Instructions

Science Extensions

  • Light It Up!

    Why does your orange candle light up when you put a match near the wick? If it’s difficult to light your orange candle, why do you think that’s happening? Why doesn’t it light right away? What have you seen that lights faster? What doesn’t light up at all? If you have an adult with you and baking soda nearby to put out a flame (that’s a fun experiment on its own!), try lighting another candle if you have one, then experiment with a very small piece of paper. Try igniting water. What works? What doesn’t work? What common features do you see in things that you can light on fire? What common features do you see in things that can’t be lit? What do you think your orange candle might need in order to light more easily?

  • Nature Journal

    Create a drawing of your orange candle and label all the parts, including the peel, the pith, the stem, the oil and the flame. Look closely at the orange. What textures do you see? Describe and draw those! What color variations do you see within the peel, within the oil, within the stem? What do you smell? Are there parts of the peel you can see through? Are there parts that you can’t? What do you notice about the candle and the burning process? What do you wonder about it? What does it remind you of?

  • Capillary Action

    To explore more about the candle wick and how it works, you’re going to explore a phenomenon called “capillary action”. Try this amazing home experiment from the Exploratorium. How does this connect to the candle wick? What do they have in common? This labeled drawing from the Encyclopedia Britannica is a great explanation of the process and a launching pad for even more questions! (What is carbon?!) Where else do we see capillary action? Keep exploring!