are relatively simple to look after, but for those who may never
have actually used one in this age of instant lighting there are
a few things that for safeties sake it is necessary to know, so
here are a few hints on the safe use of your oil lamp.
Most oil lamps work on the principal of the fuel carried by a wick
burning in oxygen. As well as light another by product of this is
heat, so a little thought should be given to where the lamp is to
be located. Places that could present a fire hazard, such as near
curtains or where anything can be blown over the chimney should
obviously be avoided as should anywhere that children or pets have
Fuel for your oil lamp is easily obtainable. For the vast majority
of traditional oil lamps use only paraffin (Kerosene) or specialist
odourless lamp oil. Paraffin is a clear liquid that burns with a
slight odour and is available from good hardware, DIY, or specialist
shops. The odour given off increases substantially if the lamp needs
servicing or is being operated incorrectly. Paraffin rather than
lamp oil generally gives a better flame quality on antique oil lamp
fill the lamp reservoir right to the top. If the lamp is dry or
is being filled for the first time leave it for about 20 minutes
after filling to enable the wick to properly absorb the fuel.
Always carry an oil lamp by the stand, not the fount (oil reservoir).
your Oil Lamp
Never light your lamp when the wick is adjusted to it’s operating
height. This could cause the lamp to flare up when the operating
temperature is reached, and if left unwatched could become a very
real fire hazard as in extreme cases it may not respond to the wick
adjustment and burn out of control.
the following procedure to light your lamp and it will present no
problems and give you long and faithful service.
Remove the shade and chimney.
• Adjust the wick so that 1mm is showing above it’s
holder ( the holder is the burner part that the wick actually emerges
from, not any covers or a duplex split burner top ).
• Light the wick.
• Replace the chimney and shade.
• Leave the lamp for at least 10 minutes until it has reached
its operating temperature.
• Adjust the wick to its optimum running height – the
height at which it gives the best required illumination without
lamp may be extinguished by turning the wick down to a low light
and then if there is a functioning snuffer gently push the handle
down until the mechanism has closed over the wick thereby dousing
it. Alternatively, turn the wick down to a low light, place your
hand (angled slightly down) behind the top of the chimney and blow.
A good sharp puff will cause the lamp to go out.
Unless it is brand new and being installed NEVER adjust a wick if
it has become dry. Turning the adjustment screw on a dry wick could
cause it to tear and become unusable. The lamp fuel acts as a lubricant
enabling the wick to be freely adjusted.
the wick has become charred and uneven and is smoking it will need
to be trimmed. When the lamp is not lit turn up the wick and using
sharp scissors cut straight across the charred area making sure
that the cut is even and that there are no stray threads.
your oil lamp is the type that requires a mantle, great care is
needed as just a touch to a burnt in mantle can cause it to disintegrate.
If the wick flames begin to lose quality, produce a reduced light
and wicks start to char essential maintenance and cleaning will
Before cleaning or washing chimneys and shades first make sure that
they have sufficiently cooled down. Putting a hot chimney or shade
straight into cool water can cause them to shatter or crack.
Oil Lamp Store 2018
notes are intended purely for informational use only and not as
instructions or a call for action. Oil Lamps can be dangerous and
if you are in any doubt whatsoever do not under any circumstances
light them or fill them with fuel. Use them as decoration only.
My oil lamp chimney made a noise and a large crack appeared
a few minutes after I lit it. This has now happened twice. How can
I stop this happening?
A: Cracking like that usually
means the lamp has either been warmed up too fast or has been operating
at too high a temperature. Glass expands rapidly as it is heated.
If you operate the lamp on a very low flame for around 10 to 15
minutes immediately after lighting it the chimney glass will have
plenty of time to expand evenly at a safe rate.
We have recently purchased a Victorian paraffin lamp - with
twin wicks - the light generated is dim and flickers badly even
when the flames are turned up high - I have trimmed the wicks -
how can we get a stronger and steadier light?
There are a few possible reasons why you could be having this
problem. Check the condition of your wicks first. If they are old,
discoloured and hard there may not be the capilliary action to absorb
enough fuel to allow the burner to function properly.
the problem persists the next most probable reason could be that
there is not enough air flow to the wicks to allow the burner to
function correctly. The brilliance of a flame is proportional to
the amount of air which can pass over the wicks to give the correct
amount of oxygen for the flame to burn in.
will note there are air intake holes or slots in the burner's side.
The air which passes through these holes travels through a metal
gauze debris filter inside the burner. Invariably vendors will not
know about this filter and it may not have been cleaned and could
be totally blocked with 100 odd years of bugs, muck and debris.
duplex (twin wick) burners allow access to this filter, some come
apart just above the air intake slots, others have to have the outer
wick cover prised off from inside the chimney holder clasp area.
You will need to find out which type you have, remove the top, immerse
the bottom section (without wicks ) in water with some dishwashing
liquid in it and scrub the internal gauze filter with a toothbrush.
Prepare to be amazed by the amount of filth that is removed. This
filter can actually be removed for cleaning if wished but take care
not to crack or damage it when doing so.
should cure your problem. If it does not, try using another type
of lamp oil. Strangely some antique burners take on a definite awkward
personality and refuse to function with the new more refined lamp
oil. Changing to ordinary paraffin will invariably cure the problem
although there will be more odour.
There is a large letter V inside a clover leaf stamped into
the base of my oil lamp. Do you know what this stands for?
The large letter V inside a clover leaf – or trefoil –
is the trademark of what turned out to be about the biggest oil
lamp empire there has ever been. Veritas started out in the 1880s
as Falk, Stadelmann & Co. and proceeded to absorb just about
every oil lamp manufacturer of note into their conglomerate. They
eventually owned names such as Wright & Butler, Thomas Rowatt
& Sons, James Hinks & Son, Palmer & co. etc. etc. They
started to fade in the late 1960s and were bought out. All that
remains now are two smaller companies – an electric light
importing business in Dublin, Ireland, and Falks Veritas in the
island of Malta who make incandescent mantles.
Q: I believe my duplex oil lamp has an incorrect shade on it.
Can you advise what type it should have?
There is no hard and fast rule as to what type of shade should
go with a particular lamp. In the distant days when oil lamps were
new and an essential part of every household the choice of shade
type – if indeed a shade was required at all - was personal
to the taste of the purchaser. Shades were sold as extras although
lamps would have been featured in the shop displays with these in
place and many people would have chosen the type illustrated.