In-Handy 17:33 02 Nov 2022

Light and warmth from what is at hand: simple life hacks for everyone

Rubryka tells how potatoes can help with lighting, and bubble wrap with insulation.

What is the problem? 

A country without light. After the attacks of the russian federation, waves of emergency and stabilization power outages are rolling through cities and villages. 40% of Ukraine's electricity facilities were destroyed. Naftogaz predicts that the coming winter may become "the worst in the history of Ukraine." Residents of Ukraine are advised to prepare for serious power outages and heating problems.

Київ під час віялових відключень електроенергії

What is the solution?

However, there is good news. The head of DTEK (Ukraine's largest private investor in the energy industry — ed.) Maksym Tymchenko is sure that "there will not be a total Armageddon." Electricity problems related to russia's terror are not just temporary but short-term. DTEK has a margin of safety and can maneuver capacities.

Despite the war and shelling, the heating season has begun in Ukraine. We currently have about 14.2 billion cubic meters of gas in our gas storages. This is enough to get through this winter sustainably, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal wrote on his social media page.

The same follows from the recent statements of energy experts and authorities. However, the situation remains dynamic, and it is better to be safe. Rubryka has collected effective life hacks that will help to warm and light the house without high costs.

How does it work?

Oil lamp

Лайфхаки на випадок відключення світла

Oil lamps have been used since ancient times. This is the simplest lamp that works based on burning oil or grease. The principle of operation is similar to a kerosene lamp: oil is poured into the jar, and a wick consisting of vegetable or artificial fibers is lowered into it. The free end of the wick, fixed above the oil, is ignited, and the oil, rising up the wick, burns.

Oil lamp DIY

  1. Take any jar or small bottle with a metal lid.
  2. Pour oil there.
  3. Make a cotton wool roll, which will serve as a wick.
  4. Then make a hole in the lid and insert a cotton wick into it.
  5. Screw the cap tightly.
  6. Everything is ready! It will burn for a long time and is inexpensive.
  7. The cotton wick should protrude from the lid about 1 cm. Otherwise, it will create a lot of soot. Now you need to make sure
  8. to change the oil on time and tighten the wick as it burns.


  • Any vegetable oil, lamp oil, mineral oil, and even sewing machine oil are suitable for the lamp.
  • The wick must have a large diameter (not a thread). You can even use a twisted cotton cloth.
  • You can add a pinch of salt to clean the oil – it will remove moisture from the oil, and there will be less soot.
  • To save money, you can dilute the oil by about a third with water and then simply add it.

Old-school lamp

Лайфхаки на випадок відключення світла

If there is a problem with the container for the lamp, a potato will help.

  • Pour oil into the bowl.
  • Cut off the bottom and top of the potato.
  • Make a hole.
  • Pass an oiled flagellum from a rag, thread, or bandage through the hole.
  • Put the potato in a bowl with oil and set the tip of the wick on fire.
  • Such an old-school lamp gives a lot of soot, but it is still a light source. Still better than with russists.

Lifehack: Place it near a mirror to get more light from such a lamp.

How to make a small candle burn up to 10 hours or more?

Лайфхаки на випадок відключення світла

To do this, it is enough to put a candle in a glass and pour oil a couple of millimeters below the candle's end or to the wick's level. Tested: A 5 cm piece of candle burns for 6-10 hours (depending on the thickness of the candle).

Even a thin church candle, cut lengthwise into several parts, will light up many evenings during fan outages. However, it will shine much weaker than without oil – like a garden lantern on solar batteries. But the quality can be compensated by the number of lamps.

Lifehack: before pouring the oil, securely attach the candle to the bottom of the glass (you can drip paraffin or glue it). Otherwise, the candle will melt away.

By the way, Ukrainians have even adjusted to cooking with candles:

Лайфхаки на випадок відключення світла

And what if you don't even have where to buy candles?

Candle DIY using…soap

Як зробити свічку з мила

Chemist-scientist Hlib Repich told how to do it.

We will need:

  • 1 piece of soap (both household and ordinary, cosmetic soap will do);
  • vinegar;
  • water;
  • thick cotton thread.
  1. Grind the soap with a grater or knife and place it in a pan.
  2. Pour water so that it covers the soap shavings.
  3. Heat the water and stir the soap until it is completely dissolved.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the vinegar. Under the action of acid, a thick white mass – stearin – is formed in the solution.
  5. Leave the mass to cool, and then take out the stearin. Break it into pieces and melt it again.
  6. Prepare the wick by tying a "weight" – a button or a whistle – to the thread so that the thread does not float.
  7. Pour the melted stearin into the selected container, which will become a candlestick.
  8. Place the wick inside, securing it over the vessel, and leave the candle to cool completely.

Importantly! Any open flame must not be left unattended! When using lamps and candles, always remember about fire safety!

Using old gadgets

Many people now have old smartphones in their drawers that they no longer use. But their flashlight usually remains working! One or two bottles of water placed in front of it will help diffuse a phone flashlight's directional and sharp light.

Soft light is ready – so simple!

Лайфхаки на випадок відключення світла

A firefly flashlight from a LED

A Ternopil craftsman named Oleksandr developed a simple and reliable device for point lighting, consisting of two finger batteries (AA or AAA power cells) and a 3-volt LED.

Surprisingly, on just two batteries, the "Ternopil candle" can shine continuously for 6 months to a year (and even longer — it depends on the quality of the batteries). Such a "candle" is not afraid of moisture, water, and frost. It is light, mobile, durable, easy to use, and cheap. A 3V LED can be purchased for 2 hryvnias at any radio store or removed from a New Year's garland.

What is needed:

  • LED 5 mm, 3V.
  • Two finger batteries.
  • Tape.
  • Soldering iron, solder.
  • A piece of copper wire.
  • Two minutes of your time
  1. We attach the batteries with tape so that they stick together. Do not forget to place the plus next to the minus.
  2. We solder a piece of wire on one side of the structure — plus to minus, and on the other — solder the legs of the LED.

That's it — our homemade firefly is ready!

If you don't have a soldering iron at home, a construction made of AA batteries, an empty matchbox, and a coin will help. The design will not be as stable as with soldering, but it will also serve well.

Лайфхаки на випадок відключення світла

  1. Put two batteries in a matchbox; they are just the right size to fit tightly in it. Remember the plus and minus rule.
  2. Close the box.
  3. Insert a coin into the box slot on one side to create a contact.
  4. On the other side, insert the LED.


More useful solutions!

  • A couple of bricks in the oven can help to warm up. If you put them there while cooking, after turning off the stove, they will warm the air in the apartment for a long time.
  • Warm your bed. Use a woolen blanket, it is warm. And put the old one as the second layer on the mattress, it will be warmer that way. After wrapping up, drink hot tea, coffee, hot chocolate, broth. This will immediately raise the body temperature.
  • A grandfather's method helps to warm a cold bed – a heating pad. Pour hot water (not boiling water) into the kettle, close it tightly and put it on the bed. In just 5 minutes, the bed will be at a comfortable temperature. If there is no heater at home, plastic bottles will help to quickly warm the bed. They are filled with warm water (up to 60-70°C) and put under a blanket.
  • Pillows with rice, beans or corn, heated in the oven, can also become warmers.
  • The blanket can be made warmer by tucking bubble wrap or greenhouse film into the under-blanket.
  • And so that your feet don't freeze, don't wear very tight socks that impair blood circulation. A little dry mustard powder poured into socks will also help to warm the limbs. In addition, it is an effective prophylactic agent that will be useful during colds and SARS. Be sure to check whether your feet are dry. If the feet are wet, there is a high probability of getting a skin burn. It is impossible to wear "mustard socks" for more than 6-8 hours, because the feet still release moisture.
  • When the heating is weak at home, you need to dress in layers, and in order to better retain body heat, be sure to take care of the waist area. Even if there is no special heating belt, make it from items at hand, for example, from a large scarf. It has been proven that a well-wrapped body is much warmer than even with a blanket on your shoulders, and it will be more convenient to move around the apartment.

This material was created by the online publication "Rubrika" within the framework of the "Ukrainian Rapid Response Fund" program, implemented by IREX with the support of the US State Department. The content is the sole responsibility of the Rubryka online publication and does not necessarily reflect the views of IREX or the US State Department.




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