Oil Lanterns


Oil lamps have existed for centuries, the only thing that has changed is the design, and for the last 100 years or more, the current design is the same. Made of metal, they are very durable and, with proper maintenance, can last for decades.

These oil lamps require a minimum investment ($ 10 +). They come in various sizes, which is important since the size of the oil tank is going to decide how long it will continue burning, and that is one of the reasons that has made them famous. They are so reliable.


The lamps come in different variations and styles. They come in metal and glass (decorative). The model recommended for use in survival is the “hurricane”. It is the most resistant one to damage and made out of a metal design that resists shocks or abuse and protects the glass reflector (chimney) with a grid around it.

La lampara de aceite

Main Components For The Oil Lamps

Wick – Made of cotton. It comes in various thickness sizes.

  • 5/8”(size # 1)
  • 1”(size # 2)
  • 1/2”(size # 3)

You must use the indicated size to maximize the lighting of the lamp. If you don’t know what size you are using, measure the size of the burner slit.

The wick usually comes in rolls of 6 feet or more. When cutting a piece for your lamp, make sure you cut the wick slightly longer than the size of the oil reserve tank. Keep the tank full of oil, so the wick does not dry out; otherwise, it will go out.

The Liquid Fuel

Although I have titled this article “Oil Lamps,” you can also use kerosene gas.

There are several types of lamp oils, and even oil from a can of tuna or sardines will work in an emergency, but I’ll mention the best ones to use.

  • Paraffin Oil – A petroleum-derived, it is the most used in lamps. If you buy the one that says “ultra-pure,” it will burn 99% smoke and odor-free.
  • Citronella Oil – There are three varieties, but preppers recommend “clean fuel oil,” which is colorless. Mosquito repellent. It burns very clean, almost like paraffin.
  • Kerosene Gas – When buying kerosene, look on the label for K-1 type. Exclusively designed for oil lamps. It burns clean, gives outstanding performance, and burns a little brighter than oil (not too much).

The advantage of oil lamps in your home emergency kit and even in your bug-out backpack is the advantages of using oil.

Oil lamps can consume approximately ¼ – 3/8 of an inch of wick for each gallon of fuel. They burn approximately ½ ounce of oil per hour, yielding 512 hours per gallon. If you use it for 8 hours a day, it is equivalent to 64 days. Try to get that performance out of a battery or propane gas lamp. Simply put, oil lamps are the best option.


Two sizes predominate among the “hurricane” lamps, which preppers use 8 and 12 inches. Any size is useful; it’s all about preferences and how long you want to use the lamp without the need to re-filling.


The maintenance of the lamps is easy and necessary.

Lubricate moving parts frequently. Avoid friction and oxidation.
Clean the fireplace frequently. The chimney is the glass globe in the lamp. When this chimney gets smudged with smoke, it reduces its brightness when lit up. Too much build-up of soot makes cleaning difficult.
Inspect the chimney often and find if it’s broken. Buy a replacement if necessary.

Other Lamps

As everyone knows, other lamps are much more modern and illuminate more. The only drawback of them, in my opinion, is the performance they give. How long (hours) can I use them before I need to add a new propane tank or new batteries?

Propane Lamps:

  • they can be brighter. 
  • One pound propane tank can last 14 hours on the minimum gas selector or 7 hours on max. The approximate price for each 1-pound tank – is $ 15.

Battery Lamps:

  • They are very convenient, compact, and lightweight. 
  • Its brightness depends on the type of bulb you have (LED would be the best option). 
  • The light duration depends on the batteries you use, how many you use, the charge capacity they have (the cheap ones do not last long), whether they are rechargeable or not, and if rechargeable, what is the maximum charge they can hold (mAh). 
  • It also has the disadvantage of the cost of the batteries and how many you can carry in a backpack (if used in the bug-out bag).


Ultimately, deciding what type of lamp you want to use is yours. Among preppers, they prefer the hurricane oil lamps model. They are so efficient and reliable. You can carry a small 8-inch lamp in the backpack. Just hang it from the back of the bug-out bag and cover it with a towel or foam to avoid breaking the glass chimney.

At home, you should have a few oil lamps ready to use at any moment. Always keep several gallons of fuel stored in your reserves.

Teach everyone in the house how to use them. Share the responsibility of keeping them full of oil, lubricated, and clean. Doing so helps create a family circle of cooperation, where each is important in the family’s survival.

Always Ready

If you liked this article, I’d like to recommend this other one:

Difficult Times Ahead – Are You Ready?

Boricua Preppers - Always Prepared - Preparados Siempre
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