Oil lamps come in all different shapes, sizes, and types, however, all of them have one thing in common — they need oil to work. Oil lamps require a certain type of fuel to light up a space safely and effectively. Oil lamps burn about half an ounce of oil every hour. Some oils burn quicker than others, but you should always keep your oil lamp half full for best results. There are many different types of oil to use in your lamp, from kerosene to olive oil and even scented oil. Keep reading to find out some of the different fuel types you can use in your lamp.


Kerosene is the most popular type of fuel used in lamps. Kerosene is not only readily available, but it’s very inexpensive, causing it to be very popular among lamp lovers. The word ‘kerosene’ was derived from the Greek word for ‘wax oil,’ which is ‘keroselaion.’ You can purchase kerosene at any gas station and it also comes in prepackaged containers. Kerosene doesn’t smell the best when it’s burning because it contains some impurities. The smell isn’t as strong when burning kerosene outside.

Lamp Oil

Lamp oil belongs to the same family as kerosene, but it burns more clean. It has been purified and because of this, when you burn lamp oil, it doesn’t produce as many pollutants. Lamp oil can be bought in a variety of scents that you can find in most grocery stores. So, depending on what you want your house to smell like or what you’re in the mood for, you can get a lamp oil to fulfil that. Lamp oil is a little more expensive than kerosene and it doesn’t burn as bright. Lamp oil does evaporate over time, so to maximize its shelf life and get the most out of it, store your lamp oil according to its label, making sure its cap is secure.

Book and oil lamp
Book and oil lamp

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Olive Oil

A great alternative to both kerosene and lamp oil is olive oil, which is found in most kitchens. Olive oil is an odorless, renewable fuel that burns pretty fast. Olive oil is a little more expensive than kerosene and lamp oil, so use sparingly. Olive oil won’t burn until it reaches about 550 degrees fahrenheit, which makes it more compatible with thicker wicks.

Safety Tips

Always keep an eye on your lantern and never ever use mineral oil, pure gasoline, diesel fuel, alcohol, or household cleaners in your oil lamp. These substances are not to be used in lamps and are very flammable, which can be dangerous. Not only could a fire breaks out, but inhaling the vapors that are released when these materials are burned isn’t safe for humans. Using a fuel lamp with anything other than the recommended oils could result in fire, respiratory illnesses, explosion, or even death. Also, be sure to never overfill your lamp as this could lead to fire as well.

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