Those Amazing Aladdin Lamps
Having lived off the grid for three years now, I finally think that I have something to say on the topic. First of all, let me just throw out there that there is a learning curve involved in off the grid living. You can read, research, plan, prepare and there will still be a learning curve. Nothing prepares you for the day your generator AND back up generator die within minutes of each other thereby making it impossible to get water from your well or finish your laundry. And even though you may logically know that your pipes may freeze during 18 degree weather and you have no way to keep them from doing so, it is still, with a feeling of dismay that you realize your reserve water barrel (that you never EVER drink from) is also running low.
However, be those things as they may, there is a great sense of satisfaction in knowing that you owe nothing to a utility company every month and when your neighbors are without power, your life goes on unchanged.
But that isn?t why I am writing today. I am writing because I want to tell you some things I?ve learned about those amazing Aladdin lamps.
Now Aladdin lamps are not (for those of you who don?t know) those wussy little oil lamps you can buy for less than ten dollars. Those are fine if you only need them for a few hours a year when your (insert snicker here) power goes out. No, Aladdin lamps are capable of putting out light the equivalent of a sixty watt bulb. They are pricey (between $50 and $200) but indispensable for those who need a full time alternative light source.
Before I go any further, I want to say that I live in a 12 volt house and have regular lights too, but I have also been having a plethora of generator problems which interferes with battery charging. This has led me to rely more and more on my Aladdin lamps.
Aladdin lamps can burn a variety of fuels, some which work better than others or are more expensive than others. I used to burn paraffin (basic lamp oil) but the cost is around $12 a gallon. I use about two gallons a week in my five lamps. So the next choice is kerosene which works fine but can also be pricey unless there is a bulk dealer around. It can range from $4.00 a gallon to $8.00 a gallon. And these days it is hard to find kerosene that doesn?t have dye in it unless you want to pay premium prices. The dye is naturally occurring clay that is not combustible and can shorten the life of your wick by 300 to 400 hours. The average wick should last around 1000 hours.
So, after some research I found some very interesting information. Aladdin lamps can burn (very nicely I?m told) a product called ?Low Odor Mineral Spirits? which can be found in any paint store. It is somewhat lower in price than kerosene, especially if bought in bulk, which you may have to special order. Another and cheaper alternative is to go to your local small airport and buy a product called ?Jet ?A? Turbine Fuel. My local airstrip sells it for $3.47 a gallon, so far the best price I?ve found for Aladdin fuel.
So, for those of you gentle readers who use or want to use Aladdin lamps, they are wonderful and have the added benefit of also helping heat the house when they are being used. The light makes the house feel homey, is plenty bright enough to read by, and can set the mood for a romantic encounter! But shop around and make sure you use a safe fuel at a price you can afford.”