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oil lamp burning strangely part 2-the solution

updated sat 11 jun 05


Carol Tripp on fri 10 jun 05

I use Tuckers ^6 Mid Red fired to ^6 with Ortons on every shelf to make sure
- so the clay is not the problem. It is not porous when I'm done with it.
The form is a bottle shape with a neck that flares out gently at the top
with a light-bulb shaped stopper, so it's rounded at the top preventing oil
from pooling around the wick. I fire the stopper in the bottle so where they
meet is glazeless. The bottle is glazed inside and out and the stopper is
glazed on the rounded part, surrounding the wick hole. Each stopper is made
for each bottle so the fit is snug, and doesn't rock.

I did a test last night with a lamp I use and I dripped oil all over the
stopper - only the wick burned - so that's not the problem.

The instructions I hand out with every lamp say to not over fill the lamp -
fill it half to 3/4 with lamp oil (and I give the name of the grocery stores
selling it). BUT do people read the directions? (I recently heard that a
woman baked garlic in one of my garlic keepers - What???? I don't make oven
ware and I never thought anyone would ever bake garlic in a garlic storage
jar...I digress.)

I got the lamp back from the customer yesterday and immediately noticed that
the top of the stopper was blackened and the wick black for 1/2 inch (I
warn people to keep the wick very short unless they like a TALL flame). I
lit the lamp side by side with one I've been using for months and the flame
on the questionable lamp was noticably smokier and the flame colour much
more orange. I blew both lamps out and waited a while. Then I opened the
lamp and sniffed and whew - what a pong. Smelled like paint thinner. I
called the customer and she went into the shed and read me the label - Torch
Burner. You know, like the torches they use in caves in the movies.

So, Gayle Bair wins the prize for the right answer - it was the fuel. Just
goes to show that once a pot has left the potter's hands, who can say what
people will do with it. Thanks everyone for all your ideas and clues to
look for. I'm now rethinking oil lamps. I do happen to like making them,
as well as using them. And I have several pints of liner and wick in
stock... I plan to re-write my instructions and print reminders in ink on
the bottom of each lamp.

Best regards,

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