Fuel lanterns and lamps come in all shapes and sizes and can range from around 15 to hundreds of dollars. There are lanterns that run on propane gas, unleaded petrol, paraffin and lamp oils, kerosene and camping fuels such as Shelite and Coleman Fuels. Be sure to always carry enough fuels and also the right tools and spares for your type of lantern, which may include: spare mantles, wicks, cleaning equipment and tools to clear the jets for gas appliances.
Also known as an ‘oil lamp’ is a simple type of kerosene lamp which works in much the same way as a candle. The wick, which is normally made of cotton, absorbs the kerosene and when lit, burns and produces a yellowy flame. As the kerosene is burnt, capillary action inside the wick draws more kerosene up from the fuel tank to be burnt. These traditional lanterns are commonly made of wrought iron or bamboo and are usually found in hardware stores.
Pure Paraffin Oil
This oil is known to be the cleanest burning fuel suitable for wick lamps. Unfortunately for the consumer, due to additional refining, this fuel proves to be one of the most expensive. The flame produced by this odourless fuel is not as bright
as with other fuels and may damage some lamps due to the ignition temperature being higher than other lamp oils such as kerosene.
Generic Lamp Oil
This can be found in supermarkets or hardware shops and it costs less than pure paraffin oil. Although lamp oil may cost more than kerosene, this oil burns much cleaner and emits fewer odours.
Kero is a much cheaper alternative, especially when it is bought in bulk. This fuel contains more impurities such as sulphur and aromatic hydrocarbons than lamp oil and the odours produced by burning kerosene in wick lamps can be quite objectionable indoors.
A mantle lamp is very similar to a conventional wick lamp, however, the wick burns below a conical mantle (usually made of thorium) that incandesces when heated in a flame. This type of lamp burns much brighter and hotter than a wick lamp and also consumes much more fuel. These lamps can be adjusted for brightness, although if it’s adjusted too high, may cause the lamp chimney and mantle to soot up.
These traditional lamps need to run on kerosene, but usually needs a primer such as Metho to get them started. This type of lamp can be far more sophisticated and fiddly to use than a wick lamp, although the light produced is much brighter. To work a pressure lamp the kerosene needs to be heated to a point where it is vaporised because vaporised kerosene burns much hotter than liquid kerosene. The kerosene in the tank is then forced into the burner by means of pumping up the air pressure in the fuel tank. This kerosene vapour is then directed into the mantle where it burns hot enough to make the mantle glow and produce a very bright
Many of these gas bottles can be refilled at any place that does camping gas refills, so you shouldn’t have trouble getting refills. The trend to bottle-swapping rather than refilling, means that it may get harder in future to find places
to get your own bottles refilled. Refillable gas bottles need to be tested every ten years, though it’s usually cheaper just to buy new bottles.
TIP - In freezing weather
, the gas wants to stay a liquid, so you won’t have a very strong flame. It helps to keep the gas bottle warm before use by storing it in an occupied sleeping bag.
These use canister fuels such as: Propane, Butane or Isobutene. They are very clean burning fuels and are the easiest to use; turn the gas on and push the ignition and the stove or lantern is lit. These lanterns and gas canisters that fuel them relatively inexpensive and they can be bought at most department stores. The disadvantages of using these lanterns is they may not operate as efficiently in freezing weather
and the canisters need to be deposed of properly.
Dual Fuel Lamps
These Lamps run on fuels such: Shelite, Coleman fuel, or unleaded petrol and are considered much more reliable than gas appliances. They don’t have 'jets' and instead use a generator which doesn’t get blocked as often. Dual fuel lamps do not flare up when tipped over, making them generally safer all-round. Some come with electronic ignition and can provide between 15 and 20 hours of light for just 1 litre of fuel.
Candles pose an obvious fire hazard
and caution and vigilence must be exercised, especially around children. Tea light candles are an example of a very cheap lighting system and can look quite nice at night.