The easy answer is to follow the list of approved fuels found below. The more complicated answer explains the 3 things to look for in a fuel. If you are curious if a fuel you have is correct to use, please review the 3 major criteria.
The approved fuels for indoor or outdoor use in Tubular Lanterns and Flat Wick Oil Lamps are:
1. Lamplight Farms® Clear Medallion Brand Lamp Oil, (#60020, #60003 aka #6300, #60005 aka #6400, and #6700 Only) Flash Point: 145 Degrees Fahrenheit
2. W.M. Barr & Co. Klean-Heat® Kerosene Substitute (#GKKH99991, 128oz, sold by Home Depot SKU #391-171) Flash Point: 145 Degrees Fahrenheit (Do Not Purchase Klean-Strip 1-K "Kerosene")
3. Genuine Aladdin® Brand Lamp Oil (#17552, 32 oz., and #17554, 128 oz.) Flash Point: 141 Degrees Fahrenheit
4. MVP Group International Florasense® Brand Lamp Oil (#MVP73200, 64oz. and #MVP73201, 32 oz., Sold by Wal-Mart ) Flash Point: 142 Degrees Fahrenheit (Purchase only the clear unscented version of this fuel.)
The approved fuels for outdoor use in Tubular Lanterns and Flat Wick Oil Lamps are:
1. Non-Dyed (Clear) Kerosene with a Flash Point Between 124 and 150 Degrees Fahrenheit
2. Coleman® Brand Kerosene Fuel (#3000000270) Flash Point: 130 Degrees Fahrenheit
3. Crown® Citronella Torch and Lamp Fuel (#CTLP01, #CTLP02, #CTLP48) (OUTDOOR USE ONLY, cut 50:50 with kerosene to extend wick life.) Flash Point: 141 Degrees Fahrenheit
4. Tiki® Brand Citronella Torch Fuel (OUTDOOR USE ONLY, cut 50:50 with kerosene to extend wick life.) Flash Point: 145 Degrees Fahrenheit
3 Requirements for a Safe Fuel:
Lets go over each characteristic.
Flashpoint: The Temperature at which the fuel will give off enough vapors that they can be lit in air. This is a critical measurement, if the fuel you have has too low of a flashpoint, the fuel in the tank can heat up past the flashpoint and create enough vapor in the oil tank that will ignite from the flame. This will either cause a blow torch affect, and adjusting the wick will not fix the issue, or the flame could simply ignite the fuel in the tank and cause an explosion. This is why using the correct fuel is VERY IMPORTANT.
Dangerous Fuels Include: Gasoline, Coleman Fuel, White Gas, Paint Thinner, Mineral Sprits, Wood Alcohol, Naphtha, Turpentine, Benzene and any other fuel with a flash point under 124 degrees F.
If a lantern ever has a flame which you can not control, immediately place a bucket over the lantern to kill off the oxygen supply to the lantern. You can also bury the lantern in dirt or sand to kill airflow.
Note: Center Draft Oil Lamps often warm the oil more in usual operation and thus we suggest a slightly higher flashpoint fuel for these lamps if a lamp shows signs of acting as a runaway with any approved fuel listed above. Fuels around 145 to 175 Degrees F should suffice.
Viscosity: The Thickness of the liquid does matter as well, proper Kerosene and Lamp Oil need to be very thin for the cotton wick to carry the fuel to the flame fast enough. If the fuel is thicker, the cotton will struggle to do it's job, the top of the wick will dry out and the flame will then start burning the wick instead of the fuel. This will cause soot to come off of the flame, as well as more poisonous Carbon Monoxide.
Incorrect Fuels Include: Paraffin oil*, Olive Oil, Vegetable Oil, Canola Oil
Any food grade fuel, as well as fuels that contain Citronella. Citronella can be used in oil lanterns only outdoors, but must be mixed with Kerosene 50-50 to thin out the fuel.
Purity: The purity of a fuel matters as well. If a fuel is a pure oil, usually of Petroleum, and follows the other two rules above, it is a good fuel to use in Tubular Lanterns and Flat Wick Oil Lamps.
Fuels that are impure can include those with dyes to color the fuel, Fuels with added scents to make them smell different. This also includes Paraffin Fuel, and Citronella.
Paraffin in the U.K. is kerosene. Paraffin Oil in the UNITED STATES is Liquid Candle Wax , and is mis-labeled for use in oil lamps and lanterns, when in fact it is only suited for Candle Oil Lamps that use small diameter (under 1/4”,) round wick. 99% or 100% Paraffin Oil is NOT designed or suitable for use in tubular lanterns or oil lamps that use flat wick, or Kosmos or Matador type oil lamps. Further, it burns only 1/2 as bright of any of the approved fuels listed above. Paraffin oil has a much higher viscosity and a flash point of 200 degrees or higher, as compared to the flash point of 150 degrees for kerosene. These differences inhibit the necessary capillary action of the wick, and will cause Lamps and Lanterns with 7/8" or larger wick to burn improperly and erratic. This is because the Paraffin Wax and any other contaminates will clog the wick as the Cotton acts as a filter for the lantern. When the Wick Clogs, the flame will dry the top of the wick and burner the cotton instead. When that occurs, excess amounts of Carbon Monoxide are produced, which is a poisonous gas.
Once a wick is contaminated with paraffin oil, it must be replaced in order for the lantern to burner properly. If you must use paraffin oil, it may be mixed 1:10 to 2:10 (one to two parts paraffin,) to ten parts standard lamp oil or kerosene so that it will burn satisfactorily. Paraffin Oil is sold in the United States under the following trade names, which should be avoided except for use with lamps or lanterns with 1/4” Round of 3/8" flat or smaller wick:
Orvis Lamp Fuel
Recochem Ultra-Clear Lamp Oil
Weems & Plath
Diesel and Aviation fuel should not be used in any wick lamp or lantern as the fumes from fuel additives can be FATAL if inhaled.
THE MINIMUM RECOMMENDED FLASH POINT FOR KEROSENE FOR USE IN OIL LAMPS AND LANTERNS IS 124 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT.
Much of the information available on our website is based on Antique Sources and Modern Opinion based on our expertise in the field. Although we do believe our information to be helpful to those who need some guidance, this does not apply to every Lantern and Lamp in Existence.
Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk.