How to Fill an Oil Lamp

by on October 16th, 2010
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I’ve always had a few oil lamps in my home to help prepare us for emergencies when the electricity fails. Oil lamps are affordable. They are also easy to use and maintain. We also use battery-operated flashlights and lanterns. But there’s something about the warm glow of an oil lamp making shadows dance on the walls that can’t be matched. Filling an oil lamp isn’t hard to do. Still, there some Do’s and Don’ts you need to know to make the task easier and safer.

1. Always keep lamp oil out of the reach of children and pets. Store it in a cool, dry place away from sparks, fire and flames in its original container.

2. Don’t smoke, or allow anyone around you to smoke when you fill an oil lamp. Choose a well-ventilated area away from sparks, fire and flames.

Choose the Best Fuel
Oils can be found for your lamp at most hardwares, and even at department stores like Wal-Mart, and home supply stores. Clear oil is the best choice. Colored oils make lamps with glass containers look more decorative. But, they can clog the wick so it can’t absorb the oil and burn right. For safety reasons, never use gasoline, white gas, citranella, Coleman fuel, or explosive chemicals such as mineral spirits or diesel fuel.

Place a layer of old newspaper on a hard, level work surface to catch any spills. Spread a small, thick towel out on the surface near you. Carefully lift the chimney up and off the burner. Lay it on its side on the towel. Don’t set it up on either end. It will likely topple over.

Next, grab the base of the burner- the part that holds the wick – and unscrew it from the container. (It’s a good idea to have a paper towel handy to wipe up any drips or spills that may get on the oil lamp, or on your hands.) If the wick is new and dry, lay the burner on the newspaper. If it’s used and is drippy wet, set it in a paper cup to contain the oil. I use a cup that has a top a bit smaller than the diameter of the base of the burner. The burner sits on the top and the wick dangles in the cup.

Fill the Oil Lamp
Place a small funnel into the container of the oil lamp. Open the oil and fill the container approximately 3/4 of the way full. There should be at least 1-inch of head room from the oil level to the bottom of the opening. Remove the funnel.

Line-up the burner with the container, making sure the threads are straight. Screw the burner back on. Replace the glass chimney. Discard the newspapers and you’re oil lamp is ready. If the wick is already saturated, you can use the lamp right away. But, if it’s a new wick, you’ll need to let it set for about 30 minutes. This will give it time to absorb the oil.

Kassidy Emmerson

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