3 Old-School Light Sources for Grid-Down Situations

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Be prepared in the event of a long-term power outage.Tim MacWelch

When you’re prepping for disaster or stocking your backwoods camp, you’ll always need to have efficient lighting sources on your gear list. Chemical light sticks and flashlights are great, but they are not your only options. Here are three other ways to light your home and camp.

1. Kerosene Lamps

My favorite kerosene lamp is the Dietz Original lamp. This classic lamp works indoors and outdoors, through wind and rain. At less than a foot tall, this little lamp’s 8 ounce fuel capacity gives you an 11 hour burn time. The heat output is around 900 BTU’s per hour, and it puts out an average of 7 Candle Power with ½ inch of burning wick exposed. Approved fuels for oil lamps include non-dyed (clear) kerosene, Klean-Heat kerosene substitute, standard clear lamp oil and citronella oil (for outdoor use only). You may also want to burn paraffin oil (Wax Oil, Nowell's, Ultra-Pure, Tropical Lights, etc.), but keep in mind that it may only burn half as bright of any of the approved fuels listed above. Paraffin oil is thicker; and its flash point is 100 degrees higher than kerosene. This inhibits the capillary action of the wick, and will cause lanterns with 7/8" or larger wick to burner improperly and erratic. Once a wick is contaminated with paraffin, it must be replaced in order to burn properly on a different fuel.

Fuel Warnings:

—NEVER USE gasoline, Coleman fuel, white gas, paint thinner, wood alcohol, diesel, naptha, turpentine, or any other explosive fuel in a wick lamp or lantern of any type.

—NEVER USE aviation fuels in any wick lamp or lantern as the fumes from de-icing additives can be FATAL if inhaled.

2. Candle Lanterns

Even more old fashioned than kerosene lamps is the candle lantern. This has traditionally been a metal lantern pierced with holes to allow the light to escape, but keep the wind from blowing out the candle. These lanterns can range from large to small, and historic to high tech. Just make sure you have plenty of candles , as these are essentially your fuel source.

3. Oil Candles

Any leftover oil, even if it’s not food grade, can be dumped into a fire-proof container and turned into a candle by adding a wick. Mason jars are a great container choice, as they are heat resistant and light can shine through them. The wick can be cotton cord, or some similar plant fiber cord. Do you keep alternative lighting materials on hand? What’s your favorite? Please let us know by leaving a comment.