Which lamp oil should I use in my tubular oil lamps? Here’s a very straight-forward answer. Tubular lanterns were designed to burn fuels with a flash point of 124° F to 150° F. Simply, the flash point is the lowest temperature where the vapor of a combustible liquid ignites. The lower the flash point, the more flammable and potentially dangerous the material.
So, where do you look for the flash point of a given product when it’s not on the label? Easy… Online, of course. Search “Product Name MSDS”. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are prepared by the supplier containing information on the potential hazards (health, fire, reactivity and environmental) and how to work safely with the product.
OSHA categorizes a flash point below 100° F to be a flammable liquid which means it will ignite at normal working temperatures. Flashpoints between 100° F and 200° F fall into the combustible category where it will ignite at elevated temps.
When selecting the best lamp oil for your needs, keep the following in mind…
If you are using your oil lamp outside, you may want to select the least expensive fuel to get the job done, if you don’t care about the smell. Again, you will want a fuel with a flash point between 124° F to 150° F.
• Clear, not red, Kerosene will do the trick but it does smell. Be careful here because kerosene flash points vary from 100° F to 150° F. During my search, I mostly found flashpoints around 100° F. You would not want to use this fuel in your tubular oil lamp.
• K-1 Kerosene has LESS odor and burns more cleanly.
• Common citronella Tiki Torch Fuel will work and keep the bugs at bay as well but it does smell.
• Firefly Tiki Torch Fuel – Truly NO ODOR, noticeably cleaner burning, less soot & 35% longer burning.
Indoor and/or Outdoor Use
• Medallion Lamp Oil by Lamplight Farms®, Klean-Heat® by W.M. Barr & Co., Genuine Aladdin® Brand Lamp Oil
• New to the Market is Firefly CLEAN Lamp Oil which is the only lamp oil that is NON-PETROLEUM based. It’s an enhanced fuel and enjoys NO ODOR, clean burning, sustainability and longer burning.
A Bit About Paraffin Lamp Oil
In the UK, Paraffin Lamp oil is actually kerosene. In the United States, Paraffin Lamp Oil is simply liquid candle wax which is well suited for oil candles utilizing a wick of 1/4″ or less. Paraffin oil has a much higher flash point and viscosity than what you need for your oil lamp. It will only cause you problems with brightness, longevity, and efficiency.
Paraffin Lamp Oil You Should NOT USE in your Tubular or Flat-wicked Lantern
• Aura Oil
• Crown Royal
• Firelight Glass
• Orvis Lamp Fuel
• Northern Lights
• Soft Light
• Tropical Lights
• Weems & Plath
Cheaper fuels will smoke and create very hard-to-remove soot. If there are breathing problems in your family, do everyone a favor and select the healthiest lamp oil you can find.
Also, it’s a pain and time-consuming to remove soot. We have (formerly) beautiful copper tiki torches that have so much soot on them, we just put them in the farthest part of the yard. Too bad. The copper was beautiful and I they won’t patina now. It won’t happen again, though.
If you still have questions about various alternative fuels that you “may” be able to use in your tubular oil lamps, just research the fuel to determine its flash point. If it’s between 124° F to 150° you are good to go!