Letter Re: Some Observations on Non-Electric Lighting

Ron B. presented some good information in his post, “Re: Some Observations on Non-Electric Lighting”; however, I would like to make a correction and several additions.  He states, “everything that burns gives off carbon monoxide” and then goes on to list several items, none of which give off  [any significant] Carbon Monoxide (CO) if they are functioning properly and are operating with adequate ventilation.  CO is produced [in detectable amounts] only when there is incomplete combustion due to low oxygen or a temperature. too low for complete combustion.  Cigarettes, Cigars, and Incense are designed to operate with incomplete combustion and do not burn, but instead smolder, producing smoke and CO.  Open flames like a birthday candle  produce mostly CO2 and water vapor.  I would point out that all modern combustion appliances contain (or should contain) an oxygen sensor, which will shut off the device long before the oxygen is low enough to produce CO.

On the vegetable oil lamps, or any liquid fuel lamp instead of using cotton, a fiberglass wick works well and is nearly maintenance free.  We had an old Kerosun heater that came with a cotton wick that needed to be trimmed a few times per heating season and replaced every few years.  We spent a little extra money and replaced it with a fiberglass wick that operated maintenance free for years.  A search of “fiberglass wick” brings up numerous suppliers with wicks for most equipment and uses.

Finally, I would like to put in a good word for the Aladdin kerosene mantle lamp.  These are mentioned in passing toward the end of the article, but I personally think they should be place high on the list for consideration.  They will burn 12 hours on a quart of lamp oil or kerosene, produce a bright white light output equivalent to that of a 60-75 watt incandescent bulb, and produce about 3,000 BTU per hour of heat.  The heat may be an issue in the summer, but can take the chill off of the room in the winter.  These lamps are a little expensive, but in my opinion, well worth the money.  I have a half dozen of them we keep ready for emergencies, and they are used by all of the local Amish, which is where I first learned about them more than 30 years ago. – L.V.Z. in Ohio