As soon as the power goes off, you realize all the stuff you no longer have access to. So, as soon as you go into a dark room and think “I’ll just turn the light on,” reality checks in with an unpleasant reminder. When all else failed, a lot of people turned to one vintage solution that did the job well enough: the oil lamp.
Did you use an oil lamp during a power outage? In fact, have you used them recently? Perusing the internet a bit shows that as recently as two weeks ago (as of June 25), people still swore by these items! These nostalgic, useful items persist to this day in some areas with bad weather or simply inconsistent power. Let’s shed some light on this vintage tool here!
Oil lamps are simple and effective
There’s no need to complicate what works just fine. The oil lamp has a basic but important purpose, so it has a basic and effective design. Enthusiasts at Collectors Weekly define oil lamps as any vessel containing oil and an absorbent wick that also provides continual light or heat when lit. The design can reportedly be traced back thousands of years.
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Existing for so long makes it unsurprising the design has seen some reimaginings over the centuries. Colonial oil lamps included an iron saucer to hold the wick floating freely in the small basin. Eventually, we see the rise of the Ipswich Betty, which had the saucer attached to a betty lamp. Innovation even took cleanliness into account, adding a larger lamp to catch any droppings from the smaller lamp before they could fall.
Good ideas just endure really well
If oil lamps can be traced back hundreds upon thousands of years, what’s stopping them from sticking around now? Nothing. Social media posts reminiscing about oil lamps show posts from just weeks ago. Those same recent musings have a remarkable thread of commonality: people still use oil lamps. There’s nothing wrong with their efficacy and people love holding on to the nostalgic items.
Some use it exclusively during power outages. Others, though, find themselves in areas with limited or no power supply. A few users shared the various names they’ve heard oil lamps called, including hurricane lamps or coal oil lamps. A few of these lamps saw people’s big milestones; one user learned to read by reading by the lamp’s light when growing up. Do you still use these? What memorable times have these lit up?