Cheap Candle/Lamp Oil Alternative : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

I thought I would do some experimenting today for a cheap alternative fuel for my oil lamps. Lucky's/Albertsons has on sale their brand of vegetable oil for 69 cents for a 24 fl. oz bottle (pure soy bean oil). I poured the vegetable oil into an empty oil candle, swabbed the wick with a little bit of oil and lit it. It's been burning now SMOKE FREE for 5 hours and it has hardly burned any of the oil. The oil I've been using in my oil lamps and candles is the Ultra Pure Parafin oil that I bought at WalMart for $3.99 plus tax for a 45 fl. oz bottle. I wish I had tried this 2 years ago, I could have saved some bucks. Tonight, I plan to pour a bottle of vegetable oil into an empty oil lamp with the chimney, I'll report my findings.

-- Bardou (, December 03, 1999



Try it for a bit & update us on your secrets.

{My experiments last year were disappointing - if not downright disgusting.}

-- flora (***@__._), December 03, 1999.

Yes, please post your results. This would save me a lot of money.

-- Carol (, December 03, 1999.

I've had vegetable oil candles for a loooong time. At a candle shop, I found what's called Water Candles. The box has five plastic "floaters" and about 50 little wicks that fit in the floaters. You use a glass container, half fill with water and pour in about a half inch of oil. Drop in the floater and light. I get about a month out of these candles, using two or three wicks. Never thought to try it in a lamp. Duh. Waiting patiently for your results!

-- lvz (, December 03, 1999.

Okay, here's what I discovered, some good and some bad news.

I used the handblown oil candles with FIBERGLASS-type wicks (bought then at WalMart). They burned continuously with the vegtable oil for over 12 hours (I finally blew it out when I went to bed). It hardly used any of the vegtable oil. I also had a parafin oil candle going to compare the flames and the amount of oil used. The vegtable oil won hands down.

Then I filled an oil lamp with a glass flume and a wide cotton wick. I soaked the wick in the vegetable oil first then I lit it. Things were going great for about 3 minutes then the wick started to burn itself up! So I had to roll some more wick up, lit it burned okay for about 3 minutes and the same thing happened. I'm not a chemist but I am guessing it has something to do with the wick material and the chemistry of the vegtable oil? You almost never have to replace the fiberglass-type wicks they seem to last forever and they burn differently than the cotton-type wicks.

So, in your smaller oil lamps with the fiberglass wicks, the vegtable oil works great, does not smoke, and it lasts longer than the parafin pure oil. So there's some savings here.

Back in ancient days, I think they burned olive oil but I wonder what they used for wicks, anyone know?

-- bardou (, December 04, 1999.

I bought a copper lamp with 2 wicks (actually little copper upright tubes) made to use with olive oil. The little tubes a stuffed with rolled up paper towel (a small say 2" by 4" piece) with a tiny piece of fine wire mesh covering the top. The the small basin is filled with olive oil and it sucks up the tubes, which have tiny notches at the bottom to be able to suck up the oil. THEN, at the top of the tubes, I place the tiny bit of cotton from a cotton swab (or make my own from a small piece of a cotton ball.) They burn with a nice light and burn without burning up the wicks, which sounds unbelievable. The wicks burn up as soon as I run out of love oil. But if I make sure there's olive oil, the wicks are supposed to last 24 to 48 hours. Supposedly the design is "ancient". I can't find the card about the manufacturer but I can search and post if anyone's interested. (I also got many many emergency candles in glass jars at Walmart, they burn really well and last a long tim.)

-- Pramada (, December 04, 1999.

Thanks bardou,

I'll try that out on the little fiberglass lamps I've squirreled away. My old experiments with cotton wicks produced similar results for me.

We have some friends who are very religiously observant. They have some holiday 'candles' that appear to be simple small glass bowls with a bit of wick trailing out. The fuel is olive oil.

If you've got olive oil to spare, it may be worth an experiment. To me, kero is much cheaper - and the lamps are much safer. Let's be careful out there.

-- flora (***@__._), December 05, 1999.

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