Two From Brushbeater


Caring For Cast Iron

Oil Lamps

You don’t have enough ammo.

But you really don’t have have enough resources (including experience) for sustainable off-grid life.

Use the remaining time well.

22 responses to “Two From Brushbeater

  1. So here’s a bleg. I’ve discussed this on my own site and gotten only halting response (a few things here and there to look at, but nothing really close to what I’m after). When I was a Boy Scout at Camp Old Indian, the caretaker of the camp had himself the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. It was an oil lamp flashlight.

    It was an oil lamp, had a mirror just behind the flame, and projected just like a flashlight. I cannot for the life of me find anything like it anywhere, but the cool thing about it was as long as he had oil, he had light. Now to be certain, nowhere near the tac flashlights with 123 batteries, but hey, those things will die anyway and the shelf life of oil is very long. Besides, an oil flashlight is way cooler than a tac light anyway.

    Has anyone ever seen this before?

    • I have. I’ve seen one in person, an old Miner’s lamp, and seen it once in a movie. “The Ghost and the Darkness”, lion hunter movie with Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer from the 90s.

      I’ve never seen one for sale. But for practical sake, I’m much more prone to reserving a stash of AAAs for my petzl or weapon light and keeping the oil for incandecent lighting.

    • Herschel, google, “Police Lantern.”

      You’ll find some neat old antique designs.

    • I think that they used to use these on the old British Railways. They were totally enclosed, incorporating a lens and … I think … a pistol-grip.

      Fairly confident that they can be found on eBay.

  2. Realize that you can’t plan for everything. The ability to use what is available to solve whatever problem is at hand is more valuable than anything you might store away.

  3. We got ourselves a couple of oil lamps, a few years’ back.

    Beautiful things, really. And, power cuts are fairly common here.

    But, I’m not too worried about the lack of artificial light … you adapt your life to suit the daylight, I guess. The likely collective action of neighbours is what gives me cause for sleepless nights.

    I really like the idea of a filled tureen as a “force multiplier”. You catch more flies with honey, than with vinegar, eh?

  4. Anonymous

    Thank you for the Brushbeater link. We live in hurricane country and are overdue for our next hit. Oil lamps are handy when the power goes out. They emit quite a bit of heat and in a home with the A/C out, can make a small room pretty miserable. Good call on the inexpensive fuel bottles – we have had some bottles develop leaks just from sitting on the shelf.

    We also use the UVPaqlite products and consider them a good investment. A permanent glow stick, they can be used indefinitely as they gather light from any light source and emit a glow for moving about just fine. No heat – no fuel to be stored – waterproof – light and compact. Well worth checking out.

    Thanks again.

    • Bad Attitude

      I’ve been experimenting with the UVPaqlite products. They definitely have their place in the emergency artificial light tool box, but can really only supplement some other brighter form of artificial light. Their light-stick form factor products put out less light than a candle – sufficient for navigating a room or going to the bathroom, but not reading.

  5. Centurion_Cornelius

    two good reads; Thanks!

    “You don’t have enough ammo.”


  6. We loose power here at the bunker quite often so we have a number of oil lamps, three or four, that we keep in specific locations around quarters. Bedroom, kitchen, and library.

    I also have rechargeables and lithium powered flashlights, all of which have been converted to LED. An aside, the bunker has lots of recessed “can” light fixtures all of which have been changed over to LEDs, reducing power consumption from 65 watts each to 13 watts each, while putting out more light. We rid ourselves of the hated CFLs.

    Finally, I did have the house wired for a generator, a 10kw unit that burns gasoline, which will keep the refrigeration and some of lights going as long as there’s fuel available. We don’t have natural gas here, so a NG generator is out and putting in a full on propane burning generator would have been $12,000.00 plus installation and subject to tank capacity. If you have a generator wired into your house, make sure you get an expert to do it. They wired up the necessary circuits, one by one, in a panel specific to the generator. The generator connection is on the outside, fully protected and is 50 amps at 240 volts, and manually activated. Throw one switch on the panel and I’m in business for the circuits I selected and the generator power is not input to power grid lines.

  7. I’ve stored my lamp oil in the shed and the garage, neither are air conditioned, for fifteen years. The plastic is not brittle, and none leak. Just the same, I’m going to get some fuel containers for the stuff. And a tip of the boonie hat to 0321, again, for the help.

  8. Anonymous

    Also check out ‘carbide lamps’ Used in mines way back when, they burn the gas from carbide immersed in water. Here is a wiki link to the basics.

  9. Grenadier1

    All you guys and the oil lamps!
    No love for the cast iron?

    Have multiple dutch ovens, frying pans and griddles. If I include the two big daddy griddles I have in the MKT I might have somewhere near 3 or 4 square meters of cast iron cooking surface.
    They are awesome to cook on, clean up is easy with heat and water and there is basically nothing you cant cook in a dutch oven.

    • I love the taste of things cooked in cast iron…Cornbread, Pineapple Upside Down Cake, Tri-tip, Chili, and Bacon;)…

  10. SemperFi, 0321

    And then there’s the next step up, center draft kerosene lamps such as Alladin. A Dietz lamp will put out 5-7w of light, an Alladin will do 50w! They use a mantle like a Coleman and are very delicate, best used in the living room for reading and keep the Dietz for outdoor use. These are best bought on eBay and restored, rather than buying new from Lehmans, unless money is no problem. Stay away from Chinese globes and chimneys, best are new Czech made.
    Here’s some links to research, such as alternate fuel sources in specific lamps and general info. Link upon link of knowledge.

    I’m still looking for a Veritas reading lamp!!!!!

  11. Grey Ghost

    Cast Iron is great stuff and I have been using it for decades. The problem is most people do not know how to care and clean it. Once you get that down… works great lasts for hundreds of years.

    I like the maritime oil/kerosene lamps… last a long time and made for corrosive environs.

    Grey Ghost