Lamp oil is a type of liquid petroleum used for combustion inside glass and brass oil lamps, as well as lanterns and torches. Non-electrical lamps can be incredibly useful when the power goes out, or for enjoying an outdoor evening barbecue. However, you may not have lamp oil on hand when you need it the most. Likewise, you may be in favour of a greener and safer alternative. There are many substitutes for lamp oil that have been used long enough to be deemed both safe and effective. In the 19th century Europe, kerosene lamps, for example, were the most common light sources, according to Heatingoil.com.
Kerosene, also known as paraffin or paraffin oil, though not to be confused with paraffin wax, is a combustible liquid that makes for an effective substitute for lamp oil. In the same liquid family as lamp oil, Kerosene is used for cooking, transportation, heating and lighting, and his easy to find in home and garden stores. As of 2010, it sells for about £2.10 per gallon in New York, for example, according to nyserda.org. Notably, kerosene has a history of being a serious fire hazard because it becomes flammable at lower temperatures than many other oils. Over the years, lamp oil has been improved and refined so that it does not emit as much smoke or produce as much soot as it did in the past. This is not the case for kerosene, as it continues to be among the least clean oils to use, leaving behind soot and emitting smoke that contains carbon dioxide.
Olive Oil and Canola
Olive oil and canola are safer lamp oil substitutes for the home and for the environment. Their high flash point of about 288 degrees Celsius makes them less hazardous. They are clean and even edible, making them safer oils to handle and have around the house. They are more environmentally friendly as well, as they are renewable resources. Olive oil and canola create less smoke and produce less as soot as well.
Charcoal lighter fluid
Charcoal lighter fluid is often used in the igniting of charcoal in a barbecue grill, but can also be used as a lamp oil replacement. It can be found at any hardware or home improvement store. According to The Clorox Company, the use of charcoal lighter fluid is controversial because of its high flammability, as it has a flash point of only 40.6 degrees Celsius. It is a toxic substance that must be handled with caution. When using lighter fluid as a lamp oil substitute, be sure to only use the type intended for igniting charcoal; lighter fluid used for lighting cigarettes is naphtha, which is has an even lower flash point, making it hazardous to use in a lamp.
Mineral oil is another effective substitute for lamp oil. It is a clean and safe oil to burn, because like olive oil, it is harmless to the skin and is even edible. Mineral oil can be found at pharmacies and grocery stores. Be careful not to confuse mineral oil with white spirit, which is a petroleum distillate that can be combusted but which has harmful respiratory effects when inhaled and cannot be deemed safe.
Whale oil, also called train oil, consists of oil procured from the blubber of different whale species. Chemically speaking, whale oil a liquid wax, not an actual oil, but it is combustible and has a flash point of 299 degrees Celsius. Fumes emitted by combusting whale oil are safe, and little soot gets left behind on the lamp.
Biodiesel, which is a vegetable or animal fat based diesel fuel, makes for another more environmentally-friendly alternative to lamp oil. Biodiesel can be found packaged for lamp burning, or alternatively can be obtained at most of gas stations' biodiesel pumps. It made from renewable sources and emits a very small amount of carbon dioxide when combusted; naturally, its fumes are safer and cleaner than those from lamp oil. Its flash point is 130 degrees Celsius. The current cost is about £1.90 per gallon, according to biodiesel.org.
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