How to Trim a Kerosene Lamp Wick

A kerosene lamp's wick shape determines the type of flame.
A kerosene lamp's wick shape determines the type of flame. (Image: Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Kerosene lanterns provide good emergency lighting during a power outage, are great for camping and give a nostalgic glow when you're feeling like a little romance. Knowing how to use the lamp properly will keep it burning safely. Use only kerosene or lamp oil for fuel, and fill the reservoir so the oil is 1/2 to 1 inch below the neck of the lamp. Kerosene lamps have either round wicks or flat wicks. Knowing how to trim a flat wick is important -- it determines the type of flame your lamp will produce.

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Trim a wick for a flat flame as you would cut a fingernail. Cut the top straight and make a slight curve in the ends, using a pair of scissors. Burn the wick so the flame is 1/8 to 1/2 inch tall. This will allow the wick to burn slowly while producing good light.

Trim the wick to a point if you want a peaked flame. Cut the wick into two points if you want a double flame. Burn pointed flames so they are no more than 3/4 inch tall.

Round off the top of the wick to create a crowned flame. It also should burn no more than 3/4 inch high.

Lower the wick slowly if it starts creating smoke or soot. Reduce its height until the smoke or soot stops.

Retrim the wick if it gets charred. Put out the flame by cupping your hand behind the top of the chimney and blowing toward the bottom of your palm. Don't touch the hot chimney. Wait for the glass to cool to room temperature. Remove the chimney, trim the wick back to an uncharred portion, then adjust it accordingly.

Tips & Warnings

  • Trim a round wick straight across and burn it at a maximum height of 1/2 inch.
  • Use a long wooden match to light your kerosene lamp.
  • Keep kerosene lamps away from children, pets and flammable materials.
  • Do not leave kerosene lamps burning unattended. Do not go to sleep while a lamp is burning.
  • Fill kerosene lamps outside, using a funnel or fuel bulb. Clean up any spills to prevent a fire.

References

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