What is the Brightest Oil Lamp? How Many Lumens?


Despite how advanced the world is becoming, we still encounter power failures, causing us to deal with darkness at least once in a while. 

While candles and other battery-powered light options have served as a go-to instrument for combating darkness, an old oil lamp would be a better option. 

Oil lamps are typically old-fashioned and can be used to improve the traditional ambiance of a room. 

When it comes to choosing the brightest oil lamp, A kerosene lamp is the best option. It has up to 10 – 15 lumens for locally made options and 40 – 50 lumens for their store-bought counterparts. 

In this piece, we will look at kerosene oil lamps and some basic things to know about using them in your environment. 

What is the Brightest Oil Lamp? How Many Lumens?

Types of Oils for Oil Lamps

When it comes to fueling an oil lamp, there are different varieties of oils that are available in stores around you. Though some of these oils come at an affordable price and are quite simple to use, others do not. You need to pay attention during purchase because these oils do not all produce the same results.

In some cases, people decide to create an oil lamp themselves. Provided there’s an ideal container, oil, and wick for it, they proceed to fuel with the most ideal lamp oil. 

If you’re worried about how to select the right type of oil for your oil lamp, below is a breakdown of the different types of oils that you can use:  

1. Canola Oil

Pressed rapeseed, canola oil is a natural oil that can also serve as lamp fuel. However, it contains unsaturated compounds which may form a resin and clog the lamp wick. The clogged wick may, in turn, dim the brightness of the oil lamp. 

2. Olive Oil

Olive oil is an odorless fuel that is commonly used in place of lamp oil or kerosene. They come in different qualities, so you may need to consult a specialist to recommend the most suitable olive oil option for you. 

Usually, olive oil isn’t used for wick lamps. But, you can make a DIY olive oil lamp in the comfort of your home. 

3. Castor Oil

This is a vegetable-based lamp oil that’s often gotten from Ricinus Communis and castor beans. Castor oil is particularly biodegradable which makes it fit to be used for all environmental purposes.

Countries like India and Egypt are most popular for using castor oil in lamp oil. 

4. Palm Kernel Oil

Another lamp oil alternative is palm kernel oil, which is derived from an oil palm kernel. Because of the high demand for renewable raw materials, palm kernel oil isn’t often used in most households. 

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Like olive oil, palm kernel oil is also odorless and non-toxic. It is difficult to burn, and even when it burns, you should expect lower brightness.

5. Fish Oil

Fish oil is derived from oily fish tissue. For many centuries, fish oil was used traditionally in most households. It doesn’t burn brightly and may emit smoky flames after prolonged use.  

6. Lamp Oil

The clear lamp oil is purified and designed for indoor purposes. They are best stored in a fitting cap container to extend their shelf life.

5. Kerosene Oil

The use of kerosene oil dates back to the 1860s when most households considered them a more efficient means of getting light. They are the most popular type of oil, often used for camping and boat rides. 

Kerosene oil is controlled by the wick through capillary action; they mostly have a glass chimney, which helps to enhance the steadiness and brightness of the flame/light. 

One disadvantage of using kerosene oil is that they contain sulfur and other impurities, which may cause a bad smell while the lamp is burning. But, that shouldn’t be a problem as you can always ensure that your room is properly ventilated while using it. That way, you can protect the health of yourself and your loved ones. 

Note, while oil lamps with wicks can accept any kind of oil, it’s important that you conduct thorough research before purchasing one. That way, you will figure out the level of efficiency and interaction between the wick and oil.

Which Oil Lamp Burns the Brightest?

Kerosene oil lamps burn the brightest. They work best with flat wick lamps or lanterns because it’s easy to regulate the brightness of the light by either raising or dropping the wick’s knob to fit the size of the flame needed. 

Amongst other types of kerosene oils, the K-1 kerosene, and Dyed kerosene oils.

K-1 Kerosene

K-1 kerosene is a common choice of lamp oil because it’s cheaper and more accessible. You can either buy K-1 kerosene in prepackaged containers or from an approved filling station.

Red Kerosene

Dyed red for tax, Red Kerosene is quite expensive. They are fit for generators and tractors and burn faster than the K-1 kerosene, which means they need to be changed as frequently as possible. 

How Many Lumens is a Kerosene Oil Lamp? 

If you’re shopping for a light bulb or oil lamp, knowing how many lumens enables you to determine the degree of brightness the light fixture will produce. The more lumens a bulb has, the brighter it shines; the fewer lumens it has, the dimmer the light. 

By factoring in lumens, you can buy the exact amount of light fixtures you need. That’s why you should think more in lumens, not wattage

At their brightest, kerosene oil lamps emit up to 800 lumens, which is equivalent to a standard 60W incandescent light bulb. This means that you can easily read, play puzzles, cook, and practically do anything with them. 

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Does Kerosene Burn Brighter than Lamp Oil?

Yes, kerosene burns brighter than lamp oil. While regular lamp oils and kerosene belong to the same family, it’s easier to notice that they do not produce the same level of brightness. 

Regular lamp oils produce a much dimmer light than kerosene because they’ve gone through a purification process that causes them to burn cleanly. Some of them are produced in a variety of fragrances. Kerosene, on the other hand, burns in its raw state – no purification. 

Is an oil lamp brighter than a candle?

Aside from aiding in the minimization of storage space, an oil lamp will also outshine a candle in all cases during long periods of power outages. 

A typical candle can only produce between 12.5 to 15 lumens power, which is considered way too low. A standard oil lamp, on the other hand, tends to produce up to 800 lumens.

Candles are best reserved for short periods of electricity outage. 

See Also: How Long Does An Oil Lamp Burn? (Simplified Guide!)

How can I Make My Oil Lamp Burn Brighter?

Now, it’s not just enough to own an oil lamp; you also need to learn how to manually set it to produce the quality of light you need to function in darkness. First, ensure not to tune the lamp wick rapidly too high. Rather, you can let it burn for about 10 to 25 minutes before turning it up to its full power. 

As mentioned above, kerosene oil is best for this purpose, even though you should expect to feel some smoke or odor during usage. You can, however, curb this by keeping the oil in your lamp font half full, to prevent the oil from traveling up far up the lamp wick. 

It is also advised that you replace or neatly trim your lamp wick at least once every six months. 

Does the Size of Lamp Wick Determine the Brightness of an Oil Lamp?

An oil lamp wick is an essential part of the lamp. Without it, the oil lamp will be practically useless. When shopping for the wick, you need to be observant enough so as not to purchase one that won’t fit your oil lamp. 

An oversize or undersized wick can affect the brightness of your oil lamp; the brand of your oil lamp and space availability can guide your decision. Preferably, you can choose wicks that are made from 100% cotton; they are best to work with. 

Here is a breakdown of lamp wick sizes and how many lumens each of them can produce:

Oil Lamp Wick SizeNumber of Lumens
3/815
1 ½ 88
5/8113
3 ¼ 125

Final Thoughts

Usually, oil lamps are seen as old household items that can only be found in charity stores or an old lady’s basement. The truth is, these lamps are handy tools that are used in cold weather or during outdoor activities. 

In this guide, we successfully highlighted the different types of lamp oils there are.  While there are different types of lamp oils to choose from, we highly recommend kerosene lamps as the brightest of them all. Although they can emit a lot of smoke, you can always work your way around to keep your health and that of your family safe. Have you ever tried to use oil lamps before? If so, let us know which worked best for you. 

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