Kerosene Lanterns

I’ve had 3 chinese brand hurricane lanterns kicking around the garage for a while. Never actually put them to use. That changes this winter!

Step 1 was clean the cobwebs out, fill 'em with fuel and make sure nothing leaks. So far so good.

They all light up! I sure thought I’d trimmed those wicks pretty straight across. Oh well, flame is very stable anyway.

Not that a camera does a good representation of light level but with the lights off in the shop I tested dimmest light possible and brightest possible- just a hair backed off from a carburizing flame.

Sure is a pretty glow. I’ll get around to setting up the fans and air compressor for a harsh blow-out test later.

As long as you’re not using it for refrigeration. That’s the usual problem, keeping the fridge/freezers going, and perhaps a well pump. The rest, I agree, is optional - though once the inverter’s lit, you may as well use some LED bulbs, they’re staggeringly efficient. The heat from a lantern can be very welcome, though!

Some initial thoughts on the Monarch after a week or so:

  • The flame stability is far worse, under any conditions. In calm conditions, the Jupiter, at least, has a rock solid flame that just doesn’t move much. The Monarch’s flame is always jumping around, even in dead calm - something about the airflow just isn’t as stable.
  • Wow, I got spoiled by the Jupiter’s fuel tank size. The Jupiter is about an 80oz fuel tank, so 60-70oz usable on a casual fill, the Monarch has about a 17oz tank, so 12-14oz. I have to refill it a lot more often, and I’m definitely not used to such small tanks. I’ve learned all the quirks of overfilling a lantern… most of which it involve “getting fuel in the air well and leaking from all the places.” Air tubes, under the burner cap, just… everywhere. A leaf blower does a fine job of airing it out, but I’m still getting used to this.

As for how clean it burns, I should swap in some 1K and see, but Klean Heat burns so clean generally that there’s no observed difference between the Jupiter and Monarch in exhaust notes.

I’ll do some more in depth reviews of light level and fuel burn at some point soon, but… in general, I think the reason hot blast went away is because cold blast is just superior.

Yeah refrigeration was always the trick - our friend had the propane-fired one.

And there was certainly a “run the generator until the pressure tank is full” going on.

How do these lanterns compare to the (white gas?) ones that you had to pressurize before lighting? I remember from scouts that those always seemed to be the Cadillacs.

Here I have a bunch of M18 lighting and I keep the batteries topped off but I should consider lanterns. And some way to get the furnace to run without grid power.

Ok, I’ll pitch in here. Been cleaning up my brass Dietz #76 “original” which was heavily used and becoming rather corroded from exposure to coastal salt air. Started out a bit like this:

I determined that it was both corroded and experiencing some form of “dezincification” which was causing those bare pink copper spots to be exposed. After a thorough scrub with a scotch-brite and a degreaser, I coated the lantern in a thick layer of vinegar paste for about 40 minutes, which removed all the textural scale and corrosion, leaving a very blotchy bright pale-yellow brass with lots of bright pink copper spots.

I didn’t get a picture of this intermediate stage, but after a little research I came across a recommendation to “pickle” it with a 3:1 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. I didn’t want to spend a gazillion dollars on enough hydrogen peroxide to fill a bucket large enough to soak it in, so I just mixed up about a half cup of the mixture and used a cloth to rub it in for a while, brasso-style, before rinsing it off.

In fact, that worked very nicely to rebalance the copper, though it didn’t remove the patina fully. After that we get a result like so:

Granted, there’s still some copper, especially on the downtubes, that is more bare than I’d like, but as I mentioned, I’m not going to go try to buy two or three gallons of hydrogen peroxide just to dunk a brass lantern in for half an hour. If those spots give me trouble in the future I’ll probably just manually re-pickle them.

I’ll note that hydrogen peroxide, by itself, did absolutely nothing. It was when I added that fourth part vinegar to the solution that magic happened. So, overall: vinegar by itself removes scale nicely, but can either exacerbate or at least not ameliorate dezincification. Hydrogen peroxide and vinegar 3:1 after that restores the yellow-brass colour to the brass and removes the pure-copper salmon-pink spots, evening them out with the finish. The darker yellow I’m not really sure what’s causing it or what to do about it - further vinegar treatment and further H2O2+vinegar didn’t seem to do anything about it, so I figured what the heck, now that it’s more or less smooth it’s a pleasant patina, I’ll leave it.

That said, the end result is a pleasant “well-worn” brass finish that doesn’t have the fuzz and texture of deep corrosion but still keeps the rustic charm of a lantern that saw (and sees) regular use in a variety of weather.

This is a very serviceable lantern that is plenty bright enough to get moderate work done (simple cooking, eating a meal, reading - if the lantern is close by) and isn’t so large as to be awkward to carry around or find a place to set. Since it’s short-ish, the narrow base doesn’t make it too “tippy” as I’d be concerned about with some of the larger lanterns that have fairly small-diameter fonts. This one I’m pretty comfortable bringing around the place with me as I need to, for localized lighting. Carrying it by the bail doesn’t expose your hands to too much heat, unless the air is very still and you stand very still - then the updraft is a little too warm for comfort. Move even a little bit, though, and it’s no problem at all.

I’ve got more lanterns on order, once they arrive I’ll try to do some comparisons, such as might translate to the digital world. We’ll see.

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White gas or propane mantle lanterns are very white, very bright, and very loud. However, you can also get mantle kerosene lanterns - Aladdin Lamps is a common brand of them, though they’re not cheap. They are, on paper, the same sort of brightness, just silent in operation as they’re wick fed kerosene. But I’m not quite there in my lantern habit. I just don’t like mantles.

Furnace blowers… are a nuisance. They tend to be 240V and rather power hungry. Might I suggest a solar power trailer? :wink:

Indeed! It looks like it’s seen the many stories it has! You should tell some of them sometime!

The blower on this new furnace seems to be rated 1/2 horse and is fed (as the old one was) by a single 15 amp 120v breaker. That should be runnable on some of the larger batteries, but how long is the question.

Put a clamp on it while it’s running and see? The startup power will be a lot higher than the running power.

I picked up a Dietz Junior recently. I have an enclosed porch and look forward to reading/coffee by lamplight this fall/winter.
I was burning it in this afternoon outside. (the soot was from seeing how big the flame can get)


A lantern, a shishi odoshi in the garden, and tea on the porch of an autumn evening sounds pretty great to me! That Junior is a nice choice too - love the proportions.

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That is a good looking lamp! How stable is it? Looks like it should be pretty stable, it’s tall but has a decent sized base for the height.

So, uh… who wants to test the theory that a cold blast lantern, on its side, will go out? :slight_smile:

Super stable even with a nice breeze. Very impressive and captivating.

Yeah, take a leaf blower to it - they’re insanely good in the wind, though an “indoor max” flame height will typically soot the glass outside.

Experimental results from yesterday: Yes, you can light a kerosene lantern with a ferro rod! Put the striker up by the wick, and pull the rod back - it gets a shower of sparks up in there. Probably not great for the lantern, but it does seem to work. I need to try it on a cold lantern as well, but definitely not an “indoor” activity.

So some kerosene heaters showed up.

And I have more kerosene lanterns ideally showing up tomorrow.

The things breed.

My Dietz Blizzard showed up today! This is a good looking lantern. I’m a huge fan of the brass accents.

But it had some friends show up too! Comets! They’re sort of the “Piper Cub” of kerosene lanterns - just enough lantern to work, and they’re so cute in the process!

Current lantern family: Monarch, Jupiter, Blizard, Comet.

Oh, I also have four Comets. One is flickering weirdly and I need to troubleshoot that, but the new lanterns outside… should have moved the hose out of the way.

And Toby.

I, too, have received some comets recently: a brace of them, in red and green. I decided to take a family portrait. The lighting is not controlled in this shot and there’s a white-balance different from left to right due to an open window, so the colours aren’t reproduced exactly right (the Little Wizard is closer in colour to the comet than the Feuerhand):

Those are, left to right in the image:

  • A Dietz Little Wizard (large font, there is apparently a small-font option for that lantern)
  • A Dietz #76 “Original”
  • A Feuerhand “Baby”
  • Two Dietz Comets

Pursuant to Science™, I decided to compare a local “lamp oil, paraffin-based” with Klean Heat “kerosene alternative” to see if they behaved differently in lanterns. I discussed with the vendor and was told that the lamp oil was a commercial product known as “ISOPAR M”, from ExxonMobil, and that it was “only slightly more viscous than kerosene”. Reading online about such substances (another commonly referred to product is Recochem’s “Lamp Oil - Paraffin-based” which is also ISOPAR M) there is mixed opinion, with some lantern sites saying it is suitable for lanterns and others saying it is only suitable for small round-wick lamps and “oil candles”. So I decided to see for myself how it behaves in a proper cold-blast lantern, and since I had two comets it was a perfect chance to do some side-by-side comparisons.

So I filled up the lanterns to let the wicks soak for a while. The red comet got Klean Heat, the green one ISOPAR M. I filled them in the afternoon and came back in the evening several hours later to light them off.

The comets are painted, even around the flame area of the burner, so I can’t report on the smell of the fuel burning yet, because all I could smell was burnt plastic paint during this first firing. After that’s burnt off and the lanterns burn cleanly, I’ll try to follow up with a report on any noticeable differences between the fuels from an operational standpoint. But I was able to get some good photos to show you the difference in light output.

Here are some photos of the results. First up, a family photo, lit (minus the #76, which was pulling duty elsewhere):

Already we can see that the green comet is putting out a bit less light, but it’s not a huge difference. I was wondering if some of that was due to the colour difference in the lanterns (red reflecting more, perhaps), so I took a very stopped down shot, first of the family of lanterns, then of the two comets:

It should be clear from these photos that the ISOPAR M is about “half” as bright as the Klean Heat, which I confirmed by spot metering the two flames as well. The shape is different, with the more viscous (e.g. heavier hydrocarbon chains) ISOPAR M showing a more streamlined, narrow flame than the Klean Heat, which spreads more readily and offers both more surface area of flame and a brighter flame.

In all these photos the wicks were adjusted (on all lanterns, for comparison) to the same exposed-wick height, as best as I could eyeball it.

OK, you might say, the ISOPAR M burns less brightly, and with a smaller flame. How big of a deal is this?

Well, here are some comparison shots to give you perhaps a situational feel:

While the photos aren’t the same as being in the room with the lanterns, the difference is approximately well conveyed. I would sum it up as: Klean Heat is definitely, noticeably brighter, but if all you can get is ISOPAR M in one of its various consumer-packaged brandings, it will still be a useful amount of light. I wouldn’t want to use it in the bigger lanterns, partly because the increased viscosity might starve the wick if it has farther to draw and you have the lantern turned up fully, and partly because the lower light output will be more meaningful of a difference with a bigger, brighter lantern, but in a pinch? Sure, it should work fine. My guess is that it’ll flow well enough, once the lantern and the fuel warm up a bit, to be just fine even in the bigger lanterns if you can live with the reduced light.

On the other hand, it’s perfectly suitable for a utility lantern or a decoration. The light of the comets, either of them with either fuel, is perfectly bright enough to get around the house, cook, eat, or wash up by if necessary, and even bright enough to read a book if the lantern is pretty close to you and in an advantageous position to illuminate the pages clearly. The other lanterns are even brighter, and the Little Wizard, if I really turn it up to max, is “quite bright” for room illumination purposes. I’m not sure how useful any of them would be when trying to navigate a path through the woods under cover of darkness, but if I get a chance to explore that, I’ll do my best to report the results.

In summary: if you can get Klean Heat I’d say it’s definitely worth it over the ISOPAR M for illumination purposes, unless the price is just ridiculous in which case I’d say get 1-K unless you’ll be burning these indoors extensively, in which case the ISOPAR M might be adequate, and will certainly smell better than 1-K.

I’ll leave you with a last photo, for fun.

Yay lanterns! And data! :smiley: You’ve most definitely done a science!

Yeah… they most certainly do stink on the first burn. I’m hoping after a tank burned high and outdoors, they’ve stopped stinking, but man, that reeks. I’ll see how they are, I may bring one with me tonight.

It wouldn’t be darkness with a lantern! My experience has been that you can only run about half the flame height in “outdoors wind” you can run indoors before you start getting soot and start darkening the glass. Also, I’ve discovered that bugs really like lanterns for some reason - I’ve seen references to putting hardware cloth in the air tubes, and I may have to do that on the Jupiter for outdoor use. I had a couple flying ants end up down in the burner after using it outdoors for a night. Flames do really weird things while processing bugs that are cold-blasted through them.

But I’ve used the Jupiter to go to my office at night, and it works quite fine.

Another datapoint here: when I try to turn the ISOPAR M-fueled comet up to full blast, it gets there and then self-dims after some time. It doesn’t reset, and it seems to have burnt the wick at the top. That’s clear evidence of slow fuel draw through the wick resulting in starvation and subsequent wick damage.

So, I’m going to say that my guess was wrong: even with a fully warmed-up lantern, ISOPAR M won’t draw fast enough to let you crank even a baby lantern like a comet up to full. Klean Heat didn’t have any issues at all and let me crank it right on up without any self-dimming.

Oh well. Caveat emptor! I’ll probably “cut” the remaining ISOPAR M with Klean Heat 2:1 or 3:1 and see if I can burn through that in the comets this winter.

At least mosquitos are attracted to carbon dioxide (breathing animals) so there’s that in addition to the normal “moths to light”.

I am really liking this Blizzard. It took some work to get the wick to burn well - it was very prone to “spikes” on the side of the flame when warm, so I had to pull a bit off the corners of the wick, but it’s got a big, beautiful, bright flame now!

More comparisons are in order but it certainly seems brighter than the Jupiter by a useful amount, despite having the same wick. Reflective bits don’t hurt, but I think the taller globe means a stronger draft too - not quite sure how to measure this.