Oil Lamps


Posted on : 1:18 PM | By : Anonymous | In :

Oil lamps are the oldest form of home lighting.   They are my favorite form of self-reliant and/or survival lighting, because oil is something that is cheap and you can make it yourself. Any kind of oil can be used, depending on the wick and the setup of the lamp.  Lamps can be made of clay, stone, metal, glass or any other fireproof material.  People today often know oil lamps as the old-fashioned fancy glass chimney lamps you can often find at thrift stores, but if your ingenious you can make your own out of anything.

Supposing you want to buy some, however, there is a great supply from Lehman's, Cumberland General Store, and Anchor Lamps

But, to make your own you first need some wick.  You could get some big spools of wick and never have to make any your whole life (it is quite cheap), but if you must make your own, you have to get some pure cotton or plant fiber twine (if you need to harvest it yourself, hemp, nettle, sisal or jute, which you can use plain, or soak it for 12 hours in a mixture of 1 cup water, 1 tblsp. salt, and 2 tblsp.  of boric acid (which you can get at Home Depot) to make it more flammable.  You could also use Borax instead (which is a related compound).  This needs to be twisted into a hard cord, and then twisted together to be a double strand.

Note: In my book one of the things I try to do is trace back every material used for every project to see if you can make it yourself from the elements of the land.  There are only a few items that you absolutely have to buy, and they include salt, lime, and Borax. 

Once you have the wick, you need a glass jar of any kind, and wire.  This particular lamp is specifically designed to burn food oils, which you can't do in every oil lamp.  It can burn olive oil, vegetable oils, bacon fat, chicken fat, butter, lard or any other oil.  They burn clean and brighter than a candle.  So, the wire wraps around the neck of the jar, and then into the center of the jar to hold the wick.  This means the wire needs to be very close to the oil, so the end of it can soak it up.  It works just like a candle, but with oil.  Alternatively, you can put a ring of wire in the bottom of the jar with a piece standing up in the middle to 
hold the wick up.  You could add a handle to this.

Comments (2)

I have a few Oil Lamps. Mainly decoration before the windstorm that knocked out power out for 72 hours. But now they are on our list of survival necessities.

You should always have one for a backup. I have a petromax lantern which can run on anything from kerosene, alcohol based fuels, mineral spirits, citronella oil, gasoline, Biodiesel, diesel fuel, methanol, ethanol e.t.c.


They also have a stove adapter.

You do need to do a little maintenance from time to time to keep it running smoothly. Check the seals, lubricate the rings and once in a while add some auto fuel cleaner to remove any deposits.

No one said it was going to be easy :)