Best Oil Lamps For Indoor Use – Safety, Quality, Recommendations
An oil lamp (many people actually mean a “hurricane lamp” or “oil lantern”) is a unique low tech emergency preparedness asset for off-grid or a power outage event. Here’s my advice for choosing the best oil lamps for emergency preparedness and indoor use.
Technically, a hurricane lamp has a protective “chimney” (glass) which protects the flame from wind. Most people actually mean hurricane lamp when they’re talking about oil lamps. I’m just pointing that out, because there are many different styles of oil lamps from very old historical use, to modern.
Oil lamps will do two things for you. Most important, they obviously provide light. Also, maybe surprising, they will give off some heat (a side benefit during cool weather?).
An oil lamp is a practical source of emergency lighting. It will burn brighter than an ordinary candle and it will burn longer than the typical candle. Oil lamps are inexpensive and a cost-effective ambient light source for indoor use compared to candles.
Here is more information, tips and my recommendations for the best oil lamps. And an estimated oil lamp fuel cost-per-hour (I did the math, just for fun). For prepping and preparedness I would not be without one. Actually I have several!
How Bright are Oil Lamps
An oil lamp will burn brighter than a candle. Its brightness varies from lamp to lamp (due to design and wick size). Oil lamps will produce better lighting for indoors with several (and more!) candlepower (or lumens) of light than a candle.
Oil Lantern Candlepower – Lumens
It’s an old standard of relative brightness. Candlepower. Although mostly an obsolete measurement these days (today we use “lumens”), it was once used to express levels of light intensity in terms of the light emitted by a candle of specific size and constituents. Given that we’re talking about oil lamps, it seems appropriate.
I found a chart that lists candlepower and lumens (relative brightness) for kerosene lamps based on wick size (width). Here are a few examples of their brightness.
Oil Lantern Wick versus Brightness/Lumens
Before I get into more, I want to quickly recommend a company here in the USA. They make very nice oil lamps. I like them for one of the best suppliers of oil lamps, given their quality, and made in Vermont. Yes, because of that – they cost a bit more. But in a minute I’ll recommend another good choice for inexpensive oil lamps – a reputable brand, although not made here in the USA (if that matters to you).
Among The Best Oil Lamps – Authentic Vermont Lanterns
This company has quite a lineup of various oil lamps / lanterns, all safe for indoor use – given the common sense safety recommendations advised below. Their least expensive, yet great quality, is currently the Dorset Table Lamp which comes in 8″, 10″, or 12″ heights.
Given the quality of their hurricane lanterns, and since you may choose to support a Made-in-USA business, I do recommend them as one of the best choices.
Vermont Lanterns Storefront on amzn
Solid brass. Wick size 1/2″ (88 lumens from the chart above). Burn time, 30 hours.
Brass Dorset Table Lamp
(view on amzn)
Best Lamp Oil For Indoors
My next recommendation is listed below. It’s a bit less expensive, but a classic design of which I own several.
Lamp Oil per Hour: How much oil will a hurricane lamp /oil-lamp burn? Generally, I have found that an oil lamp will burn about 0.5 ounces of lamp oil per hour.
Indoor Lamp Oil: While a hurricane lamp may burn a variety of oils, there are quite a number of choices out there for purpose-made ‘smokeless’ lamp oil.
UPDATE: I had been recommending Firefly hurricane lamp oil, which is fine and great. However, I’ve found what I consider the best lamp oil for indoors, given its reasonable price per gallon. It’s one of the most well reviewed Clean-Smokeless-Odorless. Apparently Made in USA.
1-Gallon Ultra Clean Burning
(view on amzn)
Cost Per Hour
Typically sold by the gallon (128 ounces), the lamp oil I had been using calculated to an operating cost of about $0.19 (19 cents) per hour based on current price.
(Note that some lamp oil will burn faster or slower than others.)
One gallon of lamp oil will last about 256 hours. If you burned 6 hours a day, one gallon of lamp oil would last you about 42 days (for example).
Maybe your rule-of-thumb for preparedness is 1 gallon per oil lamp per month of full time (night time) operation.
The nice thing about these lamps is the ability to burn all sorts of vegetable oils. Again, a factor is the wick itself. I’ve tried this a few times. Generally it seemed the vegetable oil was drawn up more slowly. My wick charred more. I didn’t get into experimenting with other wicks but I suspect that some wicks may more readily draw up those oils.
Dietz Hurricane Lantern – One of the best budget choices
Okay, before I get into more tips and oil lamp safety… Earlier I told you that I would recommend a good quality and fairly inexpensive brand of oil lamps, also safe for indoors. The Dietz. I have several of these. They’re fine. It’s a classic design originating from a company started in 1840 by its founder, 22-year-old Robert Edwin Dietz in Brooklyn, NY. During 1971, they ceased making lanterns in Syracuse, moving all production to Hong Kong. In 1982 the Dietz lantern factory was moved from Hong Kong into China. For nearly 150 years, Dietz lanterns have been known around the world as “The Old Reliable.”
For more than a century, the Dietz has been considered one of the best hurricane lanterns, given it’s original design.
>> Dietz Original Oil Burning Lantern
(view on amzn)
Caution: You can get cheaper oil lamps than this (hurricane lamp style). However, my experience and that of others suggests these often have problems. And it could even be dangerous. I’ve bought the cheap ones before. They leak. Maybe not right away, but they ended up leaking. That’s not good!
Will Lamp Oil go Bad?
It’s fairly safe to say, No, it won’t go bad. Lamp oil has an indefinite shelf life. We’re not cooking with it – we’re burning it. Even if you’re using old olive oil which has gone rancid, it won’t matter to the lantern.
Lamp Oil Tips
1. OLD VEGETABLE OIL
If you have old (rancid) olive oil (for example), you can burn that too. Your results may vary depending on the properties of the wick.
2. FUEL LEVEL
Keep the tank at least half-full for most effective wicking.
Use Citronella oil during the summertime on the porch – bugs don’t like it…
Firefly Citronella Scented Lamp Oil
(view on amzn)
Cut and Trim The Wick
The wick itself doesn’t burn (the top edge chars). It’s the oil that burns as it’s drawn up the wick.
To get the brightest light and the least smoke, trim the wick to a point. Cut an angle on each side such that the middle is the point.
Some people like the flame to be curved and cut an arc into the wick, while others simply cut straight across.
A wick will last a long long time if it is properly drawing lamp oil.
Trim the charred edge of the wick before starting a new burn.
If the flame height is adjusted too high, the flame may smoke.
SAFETY – Are Oil Lamps Safe?
It produces flame. Take all logical and common sense precautions to ensure fire safety. Every home should be equipped with fire extinguishers regardless.
Consider the location where the lamp is placed, such that it’s less likely to be bumped or knocked over. Obviously if you have children in the house, you need to be particularly concerned about that.
The chimney will get very hot – even after it’s ‘off’ for awhile, so be careful.
The heat radiating off the top of the chimney can catch fire to flammable materials too closely above it.
Don’t add oil to a flaming or hot lamp.
Regularly clean the chimney as soot builds up.
To put out the flame, blow a quick burst of air down the chimney (cupping your hand at the top edge of the chimney will help direct the air blast).
Do Oil Lamps Produce Carbon Monoxide?
Combustion produces carbon monoxide. The question is, how much? Depends on fuel, burn efficiency, exhaust, etc. Some fuels produce very little (e.g butane stove).
[ Read: Single Burner Butane Stove Safer For Cooking Indoors ]
Yes, a oil lamp will give off some carbon monoxide. However, people have relied on these lamps for thousands of years, and we’re still here. With that said, I highly recommend having a carbon monoxide detector in your home. One with a battery backup. Regardless of having an oil lamp or not.
[ Read: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Symptoms & Recommendations ]
[ Read: Do-It-Yourself Olive Oil Lamp ]
Good article Ken,,
Reminds me to dig out my lamps and clean/check them,,
Have a couple large Deitz hurricaine lanterns and a bunch of old school glass lamps, they do come in handy,
One of the lamps has olive oil in it, is where i will burn any old olive oil or vegetable oil,
One of the things on my to do list is to get a barrel of Kerosene, works good in the lamps, not as fancy and does have an odor but i grew up with that, everyone else will just have to get used to it.
There is a lamp/attachment that allows you to use it as a small stove. I am getting extra wicks delivered today from amazon. 1/2 inch wick. 6 feet long for under 6 bucks.👍🔥
Living in the woods, I ordered the same thing, also 3/4 inch wick roll, good price I thought. Added a gallon of fuel. Was looking at a couple more lanterns yesterday, up pops this article today, timing is everything.
Kerosene lamps and lanterns were in everyone’s home when I was a kid. My grandparents were dependent on them. When I was a child, a group of my mother’s childhood friends took me under their wing a taught me to love coon hunting with hounds at night. Even though all carried flashlights, at least one would carry a kerosene lantern used to traverse the woods until we got to the tree where the hounds had run the coon to.
Right now I have two full size oil table lamps, two kerosene lanterns, and one antique brass wall lamp with reflector. I wouldn’t trade them for any more modern emergency/shtf lighting.
It’s amazing how the human body adjusts to it’s environment. Just like how, after prolonged expose to extreme heat or cold, your body adjusts so less extreme temperatures feel comfortable, the more moderate light from an oil lamp/lantern will gradually become more than sufficient as we adjust.
We lose grid power on a fairly regular basis where I live. I keep an oil lantern hanging on our front porch, which I keep lit at night when the power is out, at least until we go to bed. A neighbor who lives close to a mile away on another ridge says she can see the light from her home.
Ever been in a tourist cave where the guide turns off the lighting? Then you have experienced total darkness. Most of these guides will turn off the lighting, then after a minutes or so, flick a BIC lighter. Most folks are shocked how much light it puts out. Compared to total darkness, that is.
Want to multiply the perceived lighting from a lamp or lantern? Take a cheap picture frame or even a dinner plate and cover it with aluminum foil. Place it behind the lamp/lantern to reflect the light out into the area you want the most light. We used to make wall mounts for table lamps and use foil or mirrors to reflect light and protect the wall from heat damage. FWIW.
i’m a half-ass homesteader, so to speak, in N.C….we are supposed to get a winter storm tonight. rare. i dug out some hurricane lamps, and bought a gallon of kerosene, to fuel those lamps, for this rarity. you’re insight is appreciated!! not sure if people realize, that these lamps put out some serious heat…i live in a 100plus yr old farmhouse, with minimal insulation. 2,000 sq ft of it. your tips, etc., have helped me plan the next cple days.. when we get ice and snow, in the south, we could lose power for DAYS!! i’m guessing that the aluminum, would reflect more HEAT too…
We have been pleased with W.T. Kirkman lanterns. We have some model #2 Champion cold blast units . They have a 27 hour burn time , put out 1400 BTU, 12-14 candlepower and cost about 6 cents per hour to operate . They cost about $ 49.00 each . Kerosene seems to be getting a little pricey in our area so we stock up when it is on sale .
Personally I like the Feuerhand lanterns, I have 4 of them and really enjoy the “light” they give off. Extremely soothing, and a good compliment to a wood fire in the old Wood Stove.
I burn K-1 only, never tried Veg-Oils, thinking the smell might be a little ‘different’.
AND Kero is very cheap compared to the Lamp Oils out there. Here kero is right at $3 a gallon at the pump.
But honestly one can buy really cheap lanterns for around $10 to have as a backup for “Lights Out”, and store a 5 gallon can of K-1 and your set for quite awhile.
PS; remember that a stored drum of K-1 can also be used for Diesel if needed.
BUT, I would not burn straight Diesel in a Lantern.
As Ken mentions, it has a flame, so there is an inherent hazard. However, those scenes in movies where a fallen lamp bursts into flames like a Molotov cocktail is highly unlikely, maybe impossible. Try it! Just kidding.
Lamp oil will evaporate, sometimes more in some lamps than others. I have one that has lost nearly all and others are maintaining levels. All of them use lamp oil of one type or another, might be some evaporate sooner. I’ll just keep closed containers in storage.
I have at least 7 oil lamps of various size, and from old school, to fairly modern. I like them all. It seems each one has it’s own personality, so to speak, when they burn. They are soothing and warm to the eye. One thing I would suggest is to burn the best oil you can afford. Otherwise, whatever you can get your hands on. I have one lamp that has a night shade. It is a metal shade, imperforated with designs, that just slides over the chimney. It’s nice if you want to leave a lamp going all night, not to bright. I also have one of those that hang on the wall, with the reflector, like Dennis has. I looked up an article about olive oil lamps, and made myself a couple out of pint, wide mouth jars. I was surprised at how well they worked. Nice to have a couple of oil lamps around.
Guess what? I just discovered the article I looked up for the olive oil lamp was on here. June 28, 2014. Silly me. See Kens note above. Was a good article.
We have a couple of old table lamps and one small metal lamp. I think the metal one came out of a wooden base of some sort. It will only burn about 6 hours on a fill up. I have used it to thaw frozen pipes in a small pump house. The Feuerhand looks like a good idea. I wonder if city people realize how dark it is with no power or vehicles to make light?
We have several oil lamps. When the wick is adjusted properly, they are brighter than candles but can also be adjusted so they put out very little light.
They are great for prolonged power outages as they will provide light without burning through your batteries! This leaves your battery powered flashlights and headlights available for other, potentially more important tasks.
I’ve got an old lamp that is great. I’ll have to check out these others because I want more.
Got a question about this for y’all: does anyone have any experience with those cheap $9-12 ones from Walmart?
I’ve often wondered bout them but just never got around to trying one out.
Matt in Oklahoma;
Yep, I have a couple of them…
Some sort of plastic “glass” and cheap wick folder, but guess what…
Tis better than sitting in the dark.
@NRP that’s good to know. I’ve seriously thought about ordering a case lot and distributing them between the group and family.
I still want a few more quality ones but as you said it’s better than sitting in the dark.
I appreciate the input.
I got a bunch of them. There about 6 bucks around here. Never noticed the plasti-glass tho. Never had any problems except on one the wick gear stripped out. I keep it around for spare parts. If you don’t over fill them they shouldn’t leak. They also have smaller 8 inch ones.
Ups just dropped off my rolls of wicks from amazon.🔥👍
@Joe C and @Livin in the Woods that’s good to know. Maybe this is doable without breaking the bank
I bought two of them a few years back at Wally World. One works well, one had a stripped wick gear like Livin’ in the Woods mentioned. Wally World probably would have taken it back or exchanged it, but I didn’t even try it out until I had them for over a year. I would by them again, just test them when I get home just in case I got a bad one.
Matt in OK
I believe I bought my Dietz from TSC, good metal seams and real glass. They are small. About 10-12 inches tall. But do the job.
Paid $10.?? ea. But that was umpteen yrs ago.
We have two of them, but the globes are glass, not plastic. They work fine for us.
We have a few Dietz lanterns. Mostly for decoration, but when the power goes out, off the wall they go to do their duty. We have cats and dogs so the lamps are closely watched or hung up. Wagging tails or couriosity is not a good thing.
A few years back, GF came home with a dozen lamps from a yard sale and only paid a few bucks for all. Not sure of the make. A couple leakers, but everything else is salvageable.
Plenty of wicks, oils, and stored kerosene.
A lamp with extra Citronella oil is always in the camper.
I have a couple of oil lamps we use when the power is out. I didn’t know you could use cooking oils in them. Would cooking oils work in a kerosene heater as well?
I’ve had a kerosene heater, used it one season and gave it to neighbor. I highly doubt they would work on cooking oils, at least not efficiently, if at all. They are catalytic and I would bet the cooking oil would clog the wick/burner. The design is dependent on burning the fuel very efficiently to get a more complete combustion to keep down carbon monoxide. Manufacturers said to use only the purest kerosene in them. I remember at the time they designated No.1-Water Clear Kerosene only.
Ha! This article made me get out my Dietz lamp and figure it out. It looks a lot like the picture in this article. I put it up on a six-foot cabinet. It seems dim because I’m staring into an iPad monitor, but it certainly improves the atmosphere! I have another one of those and two glass “coal oil” lamps that were my grandmother’s. She had electricity when I was a girl, but I remember visiting her at night, and the only light was from her oil lamps. Thanks for the memory!
When shopping for a lantern look at tank capacity and burn time. Barn lanterns can burn long long time with huge tanks. A camping lantern doesn’t need to.
@Chevy that’s good info I didn’t know
One time I took a used tuna can that I had filled with bacon grease to throw out later. Later in the evening I took Q tips with the cardboard stem. Cut them down. Stuck them in the jelled grease and lit them up. They burned quite well, and after a while, a few of the q tips layed over, but still burned for hours. PLUS the whole cabin smelled like bacon!!!!! 😉
I might try doing that with a piece of lantern wick.
@Livin in the woods
I’ve rendered deer antelope fat and done the same. It didn’t smell as good though lol
Lehman’s has an assortment of lanterns listed. They used to have a much larger variety. Some of which were very nice and expensive. The prices listed now don’t look too bad.
I stand corrected. When searching Lehman’s website, they have some pretty pricey oil lamps. But they sure sure look nice.
I like the feeling of having an oil lamp, they give a warm comforting glow, are very off-grid, can sit for 20-years and be light up with a moments notice.
I have a few of them and several gallons of lamp oil. I use them every so often as I like the glow they give off. I have one in the bedroom that gets a few hours of use each week.
With that said I have pretty much converted to LED lights as they give more light and are less dangerous to use. And some of the LED lanterns I have have, have a built in solar panel.
With these solar lights all I do is let them sit in a window and they are ready for use. They are always fully charged. And they are much more durable. I can drop one (and I do way too often) and pick it up and it continues to work and suffers not at all from the drop. Drop an oil lamp and it breaks and may burn your house down.
And I also have a homemade solar charging setup (a 50-watt solar panel and a Maha C-9,000 charger) to charge AA & AAA batteries that I use in many other devices including lights. I also have a 12-volt charger for D, C & 9-volt batteries I can run from a solar panel.
I have a LOT of Sanyo Eneloop batts (maybe 70 of them) that hold a charge for 5-years and I keep them charged and ready to go.
And I also have again “A LOT” of D, C, 9-volt, AA & AAA alkaline batteries put up. Not as sustainable as the Eneloop’s but nothing the less they are nice to have.
Oil lamps are great, but technology has passed them by. I don’t buy new-tech for the sake of having the latest thing, but at the same time I’m not tied to old ways for the sake of using old things.
I take a look (cost vs. benefit annalists) at the pros and cons and for the most part LED lights with solar charging comes out way ahead.
But like I said I still have a few oil lamps to play with, but they will never be more then a small part of my lighting.
And if we were to get a bad ecnomic SHTF it may be a bit hard to find more fuel at reasonable prices.
But the sun will continue to shine for a few billion more years so it will provide a way to power LED lights and do so for free.
PS: I long ago quit using Duracell’s as they seem to leak a lot and make a mess of the inside of electronic things. I also don’t buy Energizer as I had some bad (and expensive) experiences with them. I refuse to give ” The Bunny” any of my money.
What I do use as far as alkaline is Panasonic AA & AAA batts I buy from “The Dollar Tree” 7 or 8-years of use and I have not had a single Panasonic leak. You can buy 3 AA or AAA Panasonic Alkaline for $1.00. And again I have A LOT of these put up.
I picked up a mini oil lamp yesterday from Goodwill for $2. Only holds about 3/4 cup of oil and has a round wick. The whole thing is 8 inches tall and 3 inches wide. Great buy!
I have a question for the group. I have asthma and I have trouble using a kerosene heater. The same applies to using a oil lantern. My question is does burning cooking oil put off the same smell and or smoke as the kerosene and oil lamps? During power outages I have used the others but always end up having an asthma attack so just wondering if the cooking oil would make a difference.
Thanks in advance!
Barbie, is different Bacon grease smells like bacon, and so can burning the cooking oil from a deep fryer.. smells like what you cooked in it.. try getting a can of crisco in generic and put in 3 of the emergency candles… hollow out a small well around each one, …candle can be used for cooking with a raised rack..(chaffing dish type) or will give light for up to 100 hours depending on how big the can of crisco is. It will blacken above it unless it is shielded in some manner…
There are plans on internet .. go to you tube put in” Live Smarter” “flower pot heater.”. it gives specific instructions……to use clay flower pots, and tray for biggest pot..w/hole in center.. and threaded rods, washers and nuts.. to make a holder for small tea candles… to give off light and heat. Pots and threaded rods and nuts(12) absorb the heat and release it slowly…
Oil Lamp Question:
I use an oil lamp in the bedroom every so often and even with odorless oil (at least that what it says it is?) I still get a smell that is stronger then I like.
Is there an additive that would give off a pleasant odor?
I wonder if some essential oils could be mixed in to give it a nicer smell?
I mix scented lamp oil with kerosene. Some scented lamp oils are quite strong so would suggest start with 50/50 mix and experiment one way and the other until you get the right combination for your liking.
Check out kerosene at home depot (or Lowes, I forget which). I’ve got several bottles and 3 or 4 different scents.
I just bought my first lamp! an antique oil lamp, and it’s missing a chimney. Looks to be in great shape otherwise though. this article was very helpful, I completely forgot about carbon monoxide.
I have an interesting story about kerosene lamps.
Back in the late 40s, road construction projects used kerosene lamps at night to warn drivers of the road obstacles.
Just after dark one evening, I and my older brother were walking home down a street that was marked by saw horses with lit lanterns hanging from them. All of a sudden, this bigger kid jumped out from behind a piled up snow bank beside of the road, and screaming, grabbed my brother. It was just a prank, to scare my brother, but I instantly, without even thinking, grabbed a lit lantern and swung it at the big kid, hitting him in the head. It knocked his eye glasses off, and they went flying into the snow bank, along with a spray of blood.
I was about 10 years old at the time. I still have occasional nightmares, where I see the glasses and blood spray hitting the white snow bank, some 70 years later.
The kid received stitches in his head, and I was the big story in the neighborhood for awhile after.
You will enjoy the video making the rounds this morning…surveillance video in a convenience store…two robbers…at least one armed with a handgun…enter store…Marine veteran standing near the door instantly springs to action…grabbed robbers gun with one hand, slaps snot out of him with his other hand…both robbers scrambling to get the heck out of Dodge…serious, but hilarious…..
Ken, another lantern you might look at is called the Bryte lite. It’s made here in U.S. (so, it’s pricey, about $300) BUT, it is a multi fuel lantern, you can use white gas (Coleman fuel), unleaded gas, diesel, kerosene, cooking oil, turpentine, paint thinner, acetone, and alcohol, They say it will even burn paraffin wax (though not going to try to).
um, “paraffin” is the foreign word for kerosene. Unlike the US word paraffin which we take to mean the waxy petroleum product. This Bryte Lite says it can burn all of those, and it may very well can, but the results will vary and you will spend a lot of time cleaning the carbon out of it after some of those fuels.
Minerbio, ” paraffina is the foreign word for kerosene ” okay, did not know that, thanks.
$#%! Auto correct, Minerjim NOT Minerbio.
Yeah everyone else in the world has got names for various petroleum products, but we Americans have to different. Lol. Don’t even get into the various grades of kerosene, which vary in specification between the suppliers. No kidding.(difference between #1 and #2 kerosene? Not much in chemical nature but about $1 a gallon more for #1..) a lot of it is marketing.
Still have the Deitz lanterns and a few old school glass lamps, i love the ambiance, freaks out my significant other for some reason 🙄 i grew up with those things though because we lost power regularly and she never was around them. Really safe,
When we first moved to the mountain we found oil lamps invaluable. BTW, one can read a novel by oil lamp as comfortably as by electric. In the long run, probably easier on the eyes!
We still keep an oil lamp for each room, and I check the oil and wicks at least twice per year. Always handy, but thanks Ken for an update article and reminder to check on their conditions.
Be careful ordering Dietz lanterns on Amazon. I order two Dietz lanterns and they appeared to be fine and were marked Dietz including the globe. After I filled them with lamp oil I noticed both seems to be leaking around the crimp in the tank. Wiped them down and a couple of days later the oil had evaporated and the seam around the crimp was oily. I had to use a sealant over the seam to stop the leaks. I have several older Dietz models and never had a problem so I don’t know if I was shipped counterfeits or Dietz quality control has gone down hill.
I believe the Dietz name, dies, and equipment got sold to a company in Asia years ago. Some Not sealed like the old American lanterns, which I think were soldered.
check out the Aladdin MaxBrite500 series oil lamps. they are not cheap but they put out a lot of light and very little smoke because of their design.
they use a mantle like a coleman light.
– Saw this article and took a walk through the house and garage. I never considered myself a collector of the things (I have a brother who has a dozen Aladdin mantle lamps and does consider himself a collector) but just walking through and counting various flame-type lanterns there are around 30 scattered from the kitchen to the bathrooms, and several in the garage not currently in service.
They range from a big old barn Dietz railroad lantern to a tiny camping china-made copy of it, and decorative but functional lanterns that a pair of are sitting on the mantle year-round. I also have about four+ gallons of K-1 kerosene in containers, although that tends to be regarded as fuel for the convection heater that got us through the Valentines Day storm last winter (just FWIW, my DW is severely asthmatic and had no trouble with it; just lit and refueled it outside. A fourteen-year-old boy did a lot of that for us.)
Years ago, gave DSIL who has a tendency to sell anything that is not in current use, a tiny kitchen-table type oil lamp with instructions that it and the bottle of unscented lamp oil were to be put on a specific top shelf in her kitchen. That little lantern got two fearful twin girls through a number of power outages, and is now that one of them is married and pregnant, the subject of a hunt for another like it.
– Papa S.
Maybe 4-5 years ago, bought a Detz from the local True Value. Would never buy another new one! It’s not just Amazon… If I wanted another, I’d try to find an old one on E-bay.
There was a time when we used diesel fuel in the flat wick lamps, it was all we had. Talk about sooty chimneys!!!
Wrap a piece of aluminum foil part way around a lantern chimney. Focuses the light.
We have a number of Aladdin lamps that we rely on. Including one hanging over the dining table. It is rigged with two pulleys on the ceiling and a counterweight to adjust the height of the lamp. While we have 24 hours of light during the summer, it is still nice to have extra light at times. So we fit a couple of Luci lights under the Aladdin’s shade. (The Aladdin is not lit.)
Something no one has yet mentioned — Do not leave a lit Aladdin unattended, ever.
Whenever possible we rely on 12 volt LED lights. The ‘bulbs” we use have the same base as 110 AC bulbs.
Also use those puck lights with remote switch, powered with rechargeable AA or AAA batteries as needed.
Also use Humphreys propane lights. Nice in the late spring & early fall to warm the place.
On a similar note, when we built our remote cabin, we designed it to have as much natural light as possible.
As an aside, we can only buy K-! kero in 5 gallon cans for $46.99. That’s $9.40 per gallon.
We keep oil lamps as part of our preps along with common dollar store solar lights.
Was recently in local hardware store and they had a small rack of different sents to add to lamp oil. Bought a bottle to go with our stock of oil. Believe it is a True Value.
With solar/dynamo LED lanterns there are no safety/fire concerns. The initial price is much lower than the cheapest oil lamp.
If the glow of an oil lamp is important to you then go ahead and keep spending your money on oil and wicks.
Love old kerosene lanterns. My earliest recollection is of the soft glow of a kerosene lantern with a blue/green globe on the porch of a farm house. (Never have been able to place that memory). For indoors, I use the Alladins for bright light, but prefer the softer light of a smaller, round wicked burner lamp like a Kosmos or small Matador burner lamps(made in Europe). Flat wick, glass fount lamps have their place, but are fragile, imho. Indoor Pressure kerosene lamps (Coleman used to make them) put out a lot of light and heat, but use more fuel also. Pressure kerosene lanterns (someone mentioned Bryte lite or Petromax) can put out upwards of 500 candle power, great for heat and signaling the ISS or aircraft, but they are fuel hogs. For ambiance, I like small veggie oil lamps. But for work underground, the old battery 2v wet cell lamps (with 2 filaments in the bulb for backup) are my favorite, followed by the new LED cap lamps. (Used to like carbide lamps, but won’t run them anymore-open flame too dangerous). Need to up my supply of #1 kerosene, and get some of that oil scent someone mentioned.
My uncle made me an oil lamp from a jack Daniels bottle- it’s a pretty cool Christmas present and nice/practical too.
That’s my favorite lamp!
I bought a couple table lanterns at a Home Hardware a few years ago. The quality wasn’t the best (one wick assembly was tilted and the flame would contact the chimney). Returned it and had the clerk open the replacement so I could inspect it. They are made of glass and brass and work well. I burn a smokeless paraffin in them. I use them every evening during the winter. I find them very calming after a long day at work. And they did prove their worth during a power outage a few years ago.
When considering one of these lamps, look for one with a wide base. Many lamps made these days are more for decoration than for actual use They’re too tall for their bases and will fall over with catastrophic results. Hurricane lamps are good. They sit low, and their fuel tanks provide a good, low center of gravity. With the rest, be sure the base is MUCH wider than the tank above it.
I’ve had bad experiences with the cheap Chinese hurricane lanterns. I bought a few and they ALL leaked. ALWAYS test-fill your lanterns when you buy them. The glass lamps; check to be sure the burner screws onto the base securely. Again, on the cheap Chinese lamps, the burners don’t thread on well and can topple of when the lamp is moved around.
I’ve inherited 2 gas lamps that have the decorative glass bases. One still has some pink “goo” in it; I’m not sure if I should try to burn it or clean it out and start with new oil. I’m pretty sure that I’m going to need glass shades to cover the open flame. Might try the thrift stores or eBay for those.
I find that lacquer thinner works well to clean fuel residue out of founts.(bases where fuel is stored). I collect and repair Coleman lanterns and lamps and lacquer thinner will soften and dissolve even the oldest, toughest crud and goo. Good luck !
I never really thought about getting an oil lamp, but will definitely consider one now! Great Post!
how about the Aladin lamps? they use a mantle instead of a wick, and one is about the same brightness as a 60 w lightbulb. no pumpng lke a coleman lanterrn either!
You are commenting on a 4 month old thread. That said, Aladdin Lamps do have wicks, in addition to the mantle that provides the glowing light. They have their place for sure, but if you need blazing light get a pressure lantern like a Coleman or Petromax.
What can you do if you need/want to use these lamps indoors and opening windows may not be an option? Is there a lamp or type of oil that is better for this?
i have never tried it but i’m told that the paraffin based lamp oils give off very little odor, like a candle.
others here should be able to shed more light on the subject. check the original article above.