How to care for your antique oil lamps

Oil lamps were used in the past before electricity made its way to homes. Today, oil lamps are used more for decorative purposes and during emergency black outs. But these may also be used for occasions to set the mood. Antique oil lamps give a more dramatic effect, making them in demand, especially for antique enthusiasts.

Antique oil lamps need proper care for them to last longer and gain more value for the years to come. First off, the oil lamps should be thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis, to avoid the oil lamp fluid from staining the glass base.

To clean the glass base, first remove the oil lamp chimney, the burner and the remaining oil lamp fluid. Then wash the glass base with clean water and soap. Brushing the inner part of the glass is advisable especially if it has molded designs. The glass base should be wiped dry and air dried for a day or two, to make sure that it is totally dry before new oil lamp fluid is put in.

The burner should also be cleaned, preferably with oil since the burner is made of metal. Smoke residue that accumulates on the burner should be totally removed to avoid the formation of rust. The wick should also be replaced if it becomes too short. Antique oil lamps, considering their “age”, can make use of new burners if the original ones are too fragile or rusted. Burners and wicks can be bought separately.

The wicks should be adjusted in a way that it fits the wick holder and that it does not produce a large flame. The wick can also be trimmed in a shape that will enhance the shape of the flame. A wick that is cut straight across will produce a straight flame. If the wick is trimmed into a half – hexagon, it will produce a nicely – shaped flame. One can experiment with the wick shape and the resulting flame that it will produce.

The oil lamp chimney can also be washed with water and soap, but one should be careful not to break it, and too much scrubbing should be avoided to make sure no scratches are made on the glass. The oil lamp chimney should be wiped with a soft cloth and make sure it is totally air dried before it is placed in the lamp. This is to avoid the rusting of the burner, since most oil lamp chimney’s are in contact with the burner.

Antique oil lamps should be placed in areas that are not prone to accidents and out of the reach from children. They should also be placed in an area that is not prone to flames. They should sit away from books, curtains and wall paper. Lighted lamps should also be placed at a certain distance from the ceiling to avoid them from leaving smoke stains on the ceiling, or any other furniture for that matter. Refined oil lamp fluids are preferred since they do not produce too much smoke.