A project I have been working on involves oil lamps. I have looked everywhere to find inexpensive versions of biblical types of clay lamps, they're out there, just not cheap enough for what I need in the project (read: over 150 lamps).
In my search I found out information on oil lamps of old. Anciently all it took was a small lump of clay, rolled into a ball and then flattened, pinch up one side and curl up enough of the other side to make a well and there you go. Because olive oil has such a high flame point, a puddle of (olive) oil will rarely burst into or sustain a flame, but dip 100 percent cotton cloth, or wick into the oil and light it and poof, a flame. One could make a lamp that would give enough light to walk by, read with, or make their way through dark streets or rooms with a simple little lamp.
The more clay the better design of the lamp. Make a larger well (like the one in the photo) or even throw a pot onto the wheel and design a symmetrical, almost perfect, bowl for the oil. Adding a spout and a handle and you were living large. Typically the oil reservoir was filled via a opening in the top center of the well, making it more stable and less likely to spill.
Since the oil would not burst into flame on its' own, the length of the flame was determined by the length of the wicking material. Draw out more or less and the flame takes its' direction. The vessel stays cool to the touch, only near the flame does it warm.
So with my newly acquired knowledge I decided to see what I could make. The small, a little smaller than three inches long lamp above, took an extremely small amount of clay and five minutes to produce. After curing, I took a length of pure cotton, cut it about a half inch wide and four inches long, twisted it and threaded it through the hole. I poured in about three tablespoons of oil and let the cotton wick soak it up for a minute or two then lit the end. It was a great little light! I was surprised at how bright the flame was and how much light that tiny vessel put out.
Plans are now for me to see if I can grab a pound of clay and make a few more and set them aside for those times when the lights really go out! Let's hear it for ancient technology!
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Posted by S'mee at 1:38 AM
Labels: "a corner in my home" service, 72 hour kits, cheap, diy, Do One Thing, easy, fire, fool proof, inexpensive, learning, product review, saving money, self reliance, stupid human tricks, weird science