Liter Of Light Project Turns Trash & Bleach Into Solar Lamps

How many times have you flipped on a light switch today? 10? 50? Maybe you’re lucky enough to work in an office building where the lights just stay on all day. For millions of people around the world, even the rising sun fails to bring such a reliable source of light. In the Philippines most people don’t have access to, or can’t afford electricity. Instead they rely on kerosene lamps which are dirty and dangerous, or they go without any artificial light at all. There homes are built so close together that even the sun can’t penetrate the darkness.

This might seem like an insurmountable problem, but for one ambitious MIT student the answer was both simple and cheap. Alfredo Moser came up with an idea for a solar lamp fashioned out of recycled water bottles. Unlike other solar lanterns we’ve featured in the past, this one requires no wires, light bulbs, or costly solar panels. All it needs is water, bleach, and some sturdy hands to put it in place.


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The concept uses discarded plastic soda bottles to create a light source that rivals that of a 60 watt incandescent bulb. The process is so simple, even a completely inexperienced DIYer can be successful: 1) find bottle, 2) fill bottled with clean water, 3) add a small amount bleach to said bottle. When placed through a piece of corrugated steel and attached to a hole in the roof, this simple cocktail creates an astounding amount of light. The process is safe and easy, and allows residents to have a cheap source of light without letting in bugs, rain, or heat. Watch the lamp in action:

The idea for the bleach-water bottle combo was further developed by Illac Diaz, a Filipino student who used it to create the Isang Litrong Liwanag (1 Liter of Light) project. According to the campaign’s official website, the bleach keeps the water algae and bacteria-free for over 5 years which gives each installation a longer life. The project is a part of the My Shelter Foundation group which invites homeowners, students and volunteers all over the world to create their own zero-cost makeshift solar lamps. Learn how you can support the project at

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog


  • Reply August 17, 2013

    Jenny Hanniver

    I worked writing about energy alternatives for 14 years, and the video doesn’t explain the science that would allow water, with or without cleansing bleach, to become “photon power”. Is the causation nothing but reflection and/or refraction? If so, this would be a daytime light only–only when the sun is high above the horizon, and when solar rays aren’t blocked by any nearby structures or natural formations. This presentation is more like a sales pitch than a lab demonstration, and I’m afraid it’s not especially convincing.

    • Reply August 21, 2013


      Light bends in water. Daylight let into a structure is preferable to darkness or kerosene lamp smoke. It need not have high above the horizon sun or unobstructed sunlight in order to work. They are in use in dozens of countries and perform exceptionally well.
      If you can’t comprehend the science or the need, it explains why you couched your writing experience in the energy alternative field in the past tense. Yikes!

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