Alternatives to paraffin oil

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by cob dreaming, Aug 20, 2005.

  1. cob dreaming

    cob dreaming New Member

    Jul 30, 2005

    I am moving soon and i am wanting to use oil lamps at night for lighting to cut down on electricity, but i dont want to use paraffin oil or kerosine for the lamps. I am wondering what are the other options, if there are any?

    I am also wondering if there is any way to live in an apartment and use solar power? We are moving back to North Carolina and i am wondering what other options we can use for heating to not use much electricity?

    any ideas would be great, Thanks!
  2. Ozark-Dew

    Ozark-Dew AMDG

    Aug 3, 2005
    you could use olive oil, but unless you have your own olive grove and press it may be a tad bit expensive.

  3. lilyrose

    lilyrose Well-Known Member

    Aug 20, 2005
    Hi Cob Dreaming. ;)

    Lehman's sells Clean Heat oil – no smoke or smell - $15 gallon or $80 for 6 gallon case.

    I've never used it, but they say it's the best.

    I've got the paraffin oil that you do and I've been told it's not all that good, but during hurricane outages I use it because it's not as smelly as kerosene.

    As far as warmth I'm not up on solar at all, but I can vouch for a good nightcap, warm socks and a warm furry dog!

    Hope this helps some. :happy:
  4. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

    Feb 10, 2004
    So Cal Mtns
    PM AntiqueStuff,he is a lamp expert,maybe he will see this thread?

  5. vegascowgirl

    vegascowgirl Try Me

    Sep 19, 2004
    somewhere, and No where
    If you are looking at living in an apartment, you'll want to find out if they have any regulations on "open flames". When we lived in Las Vegas, many apartment buildings banned the use of candles/oil lamps, because of fire risk.
  6. antiquestuff

    antiquestuff Well-Known Member

    Nov 5, 2004
    You have lots of only by money of course. You can use various vegetable oils (rapeseed or olive are good) in an early lamp, like a "Solar", "Sinumbra", or the early "Argand" lamps. But, these lamps are very rare in original condition, and very expensive...(one "Solar" lamp on ebay in original condition with no glass globe or chimney sold for just under $500 and will need plenty of restoration to get it working...and all parts must be handmade, and so are very pricey) These lamps all use tubular wicks. Argand lamps use a tank mounted a little higher than the burner to feed the oil to the wick, the Sinumbra is very odd, with a similar idea but a very odd shape to the font, and the Solar, or "astral" lamp was made mostly for lard oil (made by squeezing the liquid out of high quality lard in a large press). Oh, there were also "pump lamps", where you pumped the lamp (generally shaped like a candlestick) to get oil from a large bottom reservoir to a small one at top where it would burn well in such a tiny font. Very old and very rare though.

    Okay, the reason for these lamps being so complex is this: these early oils, vegetable and whale oil and lard oil, are "heavy" oils that do not travel up a wick well. Therefore, they must be either forced through the wick or the burner must be very low and heat up the fuel.

    I think the best idea is to use either burning fluid or use vegetable oils in whale oil burners. Check out this link for repro. whale oil and fluid burners:

    Burning fluid is made of alcohol and pure turpentine in the ratio of 1 part turpentine and either 4 or 5 parts alcohol. It is dangerous though and must NEVER be used in a burner not made for it. The fluid burners, notice on that link, have tubes coming far away from the lamp to keep the ehat away from the very volatile fuel. Each wick tube doesn't give much more light than a candle, so, a 2 tube burner is like 2 candles, a 4 wick burner like 4 candles. They burn more brilliant, though, so it is better than candles. Handle burning fluid like gasoline! VERY flammable, and explosive if not used properly.

    Whale oil burners heat up the fuel, to make it go up the wick easier. NEVER use burning fluid in one. Using whale oil burners with vegetable oils (rapeseed is the best for this) is possible, but, they will eat up a lot of wicking, may not burn well when the font is not full, and don't burn well until the burner heats the fuel up. Mineral oil (NOT mineral spirits), made of petroleum, is what most use in these burners. Maybe you could give lard oil a try in these. You enclose the lard in a natural canvas bag tightly, and put it into a press and collect the liquid from it. The liquid, of course, is the lard oil.

    All these burners will NOT fit modern lamps. They must be used on older type lamps with fine threads on a non-removeable collar. In other words, the modern collars that can be removed from the lamp base will not work with these finely threaded burners. But, old finger lamps with the old style brass collars are cheap...

    Also, scroll down on that link to the float lamp burners: these give a dim light, but are cheap and you can get several of them to light up a room. sells "olive oil lamps", the one with the tiny round wicks work best, the smallest one they have is my favorite. Again, dim, but cheap and you can use several.

    I warn you, kerosene lamps will not burn vegetable oils well, if at all. The wicking is woven too tightly first off, and the oils are just too heavy to move up fast enough for the lamp to burn well. Believe me, I tried some experimenting to try to get normal lamps to burn vegetable oils. Not practical at all.

    One other thing you might consider: there were alcohol mantle lamps. They used a standard gas mantle (mantles that really fit them are getting hard to find) and alcohol as fuel. The burner is preheated until vapor starts coming off the top of the burner, where it is lit. It uses a small glass chimney too. these burners are not easy to find, as they were never that popular. Some common brands are "Pyro", and Tito-Landi, though most Tito-Landi lamps are for gasoline. Try out the site to find info on these lamps. Search their Q and A page archives for wonderful info and pictures of these items. Remember though, any of these lamps can be dangerous, so be sure you know what you have and that you are using it properly.