One of our merchandise department folks sent this piece along to share how he and his family used their Aladdin lamp to get through the recent “polar vortex” cold snap. (And they’re using them again this week, ’cause it’s still cold!) He’s an expert on Aladdin lamps, and you can use his tips for your lamps too!
–Karen Johnson, Editor, Country Life
I live in northeast Ohio and we just came through one of the coldest spells in Ohio history. Temperatures dipped to well below -10° F with wind chills hovering around -30° F. In the course of one 24 hour period, temperatures dropped from 45°F to -8° F. Ouch! Today the temperature is 16° F and it feels warm.
Of course these drastic temperatures were accompanied by power outages, lack of pressure in natural gas lines and other calamitous incidents where things broke or didn’t work as intended. As a result, many people were, perhaps, not “left out in the cold,” but “in the cold” nonetheless.
As I watched some of these people huddling together to try to stay warm with no light and no heat while being interviewed on TV, I felt sorry for them, and the thought occurred to me that, all they really needed was one Aladdin lamp and their cold and light problems would be over. I’m sure you’re incredulous. An Aladdin lamp? Really? It’s true, and I’ll tell you why.
Using Aladdin Lamps To Warm Work Area
I live in a house with a basement (family room and laundry/furnace/utility room), a first floor (dining room, living room, kitchen) and a second floor (bedrooms and office). When we built the house we designed it so that we could heat the house with wood using only the convection created from rising warm air and sinking cold air. The wood stove is in the basement and the heat comes up the stairway to heat the first floor. It continues on up the stairway to somewhat heat the second floor. The end result is that, in the winter, our basement is warm (70°-85° F depending on how close you are to the stove), our fist floor is comfortable (60°-70° F) and our upstairs is cold (50°-60° F).
Now, I’m not a mean husband and father. It’s not that I’m trying to freeze my family and make them suffer.
We all like to sleep in cold bedrooms, we enjoy wearing slippers, sweats and hoodies when we’re cold, and if we want to really get toasty warm, we go to the basement and hang out there together, close to the stove.
Of course, we have a furnace if we need it, but we never use it unless we are gone for a few days and don’t want the house to freeze up. We all like the feel of the heat that the wood-burning stove gives off, and since we get much of our wood for free (except for the time and energy it takes to cut, split, haul and stack it), burning wood also saves us quite a bit of money on our electric bill.
The one problem with this scenario is that our computer is in the office upstairs. When we need to use the computer in the middle of winter, it can be finger-numbing cold in the office. Although 50° F feels warm in the spring, to actually work in that cold an office for any amount of time is rather difficult and it is very hard to stay warm enough while sitting still.
There are lots of solutions to this problem – space heaters, more clothes and gloves, turn on the furnace – but the best one we’ve found is the simple Aladdin lamp.
As it happens, the office is rather dark, so an additional source of light is a welcomed luxury. The Aladdin lamp is bright enough to illuminate any dark corner or provide enough light to easily read or see a keyboard. In fact, the Aladdin lamp is almost as bright as a 60W bulb.
Along with the bright light, Aladdin lamps also generate a tremendous amount of heat. In order to create that bright light, the mantle on the lamp burns at a very high temperature. This heat travels up the chimney and into the room. What we’ve discovered is, if you close the door to the office to keep the heat from the lamp in and the cold from the rest of the upstairs out, the office temperature will increase by 10° F or more within an hour or so. It makes working in the office certainly tolerable and almost comfortable during even the coldest winter evenings.
Several other points to make here. First, Aladdin lamps are very safe. The fuel is not pressurized. One of the things often said about Aladdin lamps is that they are the brightest, non-pressurized oil lamps available. The lack of pressurized fuel makes them much safer than a Coleman or similar style lantern. Second, if you use the proper fuel, the lamps are almost odorless and they are safe to burn inside an enclosed, but not airtight, room. Third, with the arrival over the past couple years of inexpensive LED lanterns and flashlights, there are other light alternatives out there that work well and are much more portable, but the Aladdin lamp gives both light and heat – therein lies its unique value.
Use An Aladdin Lamp To Keep Warm Anytime
This brings me back to my original story about the poor, huddled people without light or heat. With an Aladdin lamp and the proper accessories, they could have both. Human beings are warm (almost 100° F) and give off body heat. Couple that with the heat from an Aladdin lamp, and, in an enclosed room with one or more people, the room temperature can certainly be tolerable and maybe even comfortable, at least for short periods of time. This is why everyone should have an Aladdin lamp for emergency situations.
Make sure you aren’t one of those who are “in the cold” next time your electricity or natural gas is unavailable. Here’s what you need:
- Get an Aladdin lamp. I’d suggest an aluminum or brass one instead of a glass one so that the glass bowl doesn’t accidentally break. The aluminum lamps are a very popular lamp with the missionaries we supply for exactly that reason; they can take a beating and still work well – even with dents.
- Keep your Aladdin lamp filled with lamp oil (I use Klean Heat or Aladdin Lamp Oil) and have extra lamp oil on hand. Lamp oil takes an hour or so to soak up the wick before the lamp is ready to be burned. If you wait until the emergency happens to add oil, you won’t have light and heat ready when you need it, so keep your lamp filled at all times.
Keep extra parts handy. I always have several mantles on hand. Once the mantels are burned, they become very fragile. Without a mantle, your lamp is useless, so you need to have a few extras available at all times. Same with extra chimneys. The specific height of an Aladdin chimney creates just the right draft to pull the air through the burner and create the tremendous amount of light and heat that is its trademark. You can’t use just any chimney, and without a chimney, the lamp won’t burn at all. If you take good care of your lamp and chimney, you may never need to replace it, but, keep an extra one or two on hand just to be safe. If the lamp is burning properly, a wick will last a long time. However, I keep an extra one of those around too, just in case. They aren’t expensive and it is a good security blanket to have.
- Don’t forget the matches. Store a dedicated box of them close to the lamp so that there are always matches at the ready when you need them.
Did I mention that Aladdin lamps are beautiful? Some of them are worthy of display on any mantel, shelf or table. Beautiful to display, functional to use, and the light and heat could be invaluable – maybe even save your life – during an emergency. Now that’s a perfect emergency essential!