Changing Preparedness Lights

Well, thanks to a couple of additional donations, I’m upgrading my “Preparedness” equipment too.

If you live in a place with various natural disasters that might cause the lights to go out, and cold nights without a heater to follow, you will likely find this an interesting posting. It looks at post-disaster lighting and heat. In my case, it’s an Earthquake that’s likely to be the issue. Your local disaster may need other preparations. For me, I’ve mostly moved to LED bulbs and inverters plugged into car batteries, or large “C” cell Maglights with LED bulbs in them. (Why a “C” size? With LEDs it runs over 100 hours anyway, and the “C” sizes are much faster to swing… In combat, being fast is very important. The “D” size ones just swing way too slow. A 4 cell “C” Maglight swings fast, hits fairly hard, has a lot of light, and is light enough to wear on a belt loop.) Fuel for lighting is basically not high on the list anymore. Yet it has a place. Longer duration, batteries will likely be very scarce. Most any vehicle will either have Gas or Jet / Turbine fuel in it. Especially military operations. Fuel based lights also make heat.

So having a lantern that is also a heater lets you conserve the batteries. Batteries are also not all that cheap. Frozen batteries tend to leak once warmed, and while battery storage life has gone up a lot, storing batteries is still a question of loss vs time. So IF that flashlight turns out to have corroded batteries in it, you want a “Plan B”. ( I’ve had way too many Maglights have batteries leak in them. Especially in the last couple of decades. There was a golden era when batteries didn’t leak, but we’ve gone back to leakers lately… along with many made in China…) Basically, it’s good to have belt and suspenders. Given that:

I just bought a Coleman Kerosene Lantern. Why Kerosene? Because in California they keep screwing around with “What is gasoline?” and now that’s gone national too. Some gasoline may be up to 15% Ethanol. I have a Coleman “Dual Fuel” lantern that is good with unleaded “gasoline”, but in wandering around looking at “what works with what” I found an assertion that some of the older ones may have the seals damaged by alcohols in some fuels. Mine’s an old one…

( Regular rubber absorbs alcohols and swells up, becoming soft and spongy. Then any minor friction shreds it. It takes a different “special” rubber to stand up to alcohols. This same effect showed up in Diesels when they went to low sulphur Diesel fuel, but in the other direction. Sulphur also soaks into rubbers, so the seals were made to expect some of that swelling to seal right. Taking the sulphur out caused a lot of seal shrinkage and leakage and sent many vehicles off to scarp yards or rebuilds when the rubber shrank and leaked. Politicians REALLY need to stop playing Engineer… they are not very good at it.)

I’ve decided to dig my old “Dual Fuel” lantern out of the “Disaster Kit” and go ahead and use it to see how it holds up to whatever gasoline is today. (The MBTE is gone, but some oxygenate is in; and alcohol levels are rising). But that leave an “issue” in that my preparedness kit may be missing an important component… It’s all well and good that I may find I need to order a new seal kit for the Dual Fuel and install it “someday”, but I don’t want The Kit lacking an important part while I’m doing that exercise.

Now, for actual lighting most of the time, using an LED light on the end of a drop cord from the car, with an inverter, is going to provide far more light for far less fuel and equipment than anything else. Heck, even running unleaded “whatever” in the Honda Generator and using the electricity to run the lights would be better than running the fuel into a lantern. I’ll get about 20 hours of light / gallon from the lantern at full power while the generator would be making about 8+ kW-hrs of that same fuel. With a 20 W CFL or LED light that would be 400 hours of light. Even if you lost 10% into a battery and back out it’s still 360 hours. So you give up about 340 hours of light by burning the fuel in a lantern rather than doing the generator / Light or generator / battery / inverter / light. So why get a lantern?


About 1/2 to 3/4 of the year, you want light AND HEAT.

Earthquakes do not always arrive in June, July, August, or September. Even then, here, it can be 50 F at night when it is 80 F in the mid day. So for much of the time, it is a major feature to be able to fire up a light that doubles as a room heater. Yes, you need to leave a window cracked and make sure that CO doesn’t build up etc etc… but since THE most likely real disaster use is “In the Family Tent in the yard…” after the quake; that’s not a big deal. Shivering in the dark is.

Why not just get a heater? Because a bright light tends to be shut off when you go to bed and you do not want to leave a combustion based heater running when you go to sleep. It urges you to shut it off instead of just going to bed.

Basically, I’m seeing this as a nice heater that has a BIG status indicator and a side effect of saving the electrical demand a bit. It is also the case that the electric generator may be under a pile of rubble, not start, or the gasoline may have run out, or… There’s a major feature in having multiple sources of light. That I can also carry it down the block checking on the neighbors is also a consideration. Can’t do that with the LED on a rope… The LED Maglights will likely work for a week or three, and I’d hope that’s enough. But at 100 hours of use or so, after the first week it could be dodgy. Then there’s that recent history of leaking batteries…

A 5 gallon can of Kerosene will give 20 “fills” of the lantern or about 100 hours of combined heat and light after the electrical kit gives out. (Or it can provide very nice area light for a week of post-quake “issues” in the evening, letting the Maglights be saved for “point use”.)

Why Kerosene?

The present gasoline is a bit of ‘mystery meat’. And it keeps being screwed with by the political clowns who like to style themselves better fuel engineers than the Chem.E. and Mech.E. folks who know what they’re doing…

It doesn’t store as well as the old plain gas and is subject to phase separation if some moisture is absorbed from the air. That 10% Ethanol means the gasoline is hygroscopic and when it pulls a few percent of water out of the air, you get an alcohol / water phase at the bottom and a lower octane gas at the top. Yes, it ought to take a year or three… but we are talking about stored fuel here. Furthermore, alcohol is prone to corroding some metals. Just the kind of “light metal” used in things like the “generator” in a lantern where liquid fuel is vaporized to make a burnable gas. Not the kind of thing you want to discover day 5 of the post-quake when the flashlight is getting dim… Oh, and when pouring gas into a lantern in the dark you are not that likely to see the alcohol / water phase.

Add in that alcohol requires special rubbers to have your seals not give out and that having seals leak highly flammable fuel from a pressurized tank near a flaming mantle… well, let’s just say that’s not what you want to risk inside a wooden house nor inside a tent next to the wooden rubble of an ex-house.

Kerosene has none of those problems.

Kerosene stores well, is non-hygroscopic, is of constant chemical structure, does not corrode metals (in fact, protects them), and is generally an all around better fuel with more BTU / gallon.

Why not Coleman Fuel? Well, it presently sells for about $10 / gallon. Kerosene is about $5.50 / gallon at the local gas station. Some years back you could get “generic” white gas in cans much cheaper, but a quick survey found none of them in the area. (Outside California they likely still sell product, but I’ve not found it here). Heck, when I was about 9, the local 76 Station had a 55 gal drum of “Stoddard Solvent” and sold pails of “white gas’ from it dirt cheap. Now having a 55 gallon drum of naphtha would be seen as a horrid risk and lawsuit fodder. IFF I find a source of cheap ‘white gas’ somewhere, then I’ll buy it for the “Dual Fuel” lantern… but it’s just a whole lot easier to find K1 Kerosene fairly cheap. Certainly not paying $10 / gallon.

The “interoperability factor”: Kerosene is basically crude jet fuel. So in a real “emergency”, being able to run on JP-4 or Jet-A (or any of a few other turbine fuels) would be a feature. Heck, even JP-8 would likely work if you warm the ‘gas generator’ enough first. (JP-8 is basically #2 heating oil / Diesel fuel). Yes, a real “multi-fuel” lantern designed for Diesel would be better (the Britelyt claims to be such a lantern, but reviews of it range from “Great!” to “Exploded and burned up my tent!” and at least one of their products is made in China with a reputation of quality issues…). So for a “Gonna Work when TSHTF” solution, I’d rather be having something with reviews that say “Well, all it ever does is work. How boring.”.

For all these reasons, I’m swapping my “Post Quake Kit Lantern” over from gasoline to kerosene. That I can dump a 5 gallon Jerry Can of kerosene into my Diesel doesn’t hurt ;-)

Some Fun Stuff

While researching this, I ran into many interesting diversions. One is a guy who converted his Gas Coleman to run on Kerosene. (Actually, two of them, but one is a conversion for what are old yard sale models, not new ones, that involves buying a particular replacement generator and a warming cup that may not be available any more).

BTW, if you “hit the link” for that ‘how to convert a 220 model to Kerosene’, one of the guys has an interesting .signature block:

The Doctrine of the Three Percent.
We will not disarm.
You cannot convince us.
You cannot intimidate us.
You can try to kill us,
if you think you can.
But remember, we’ll shoot back.
And we are not going away
Your move.

“If you think the Indians got their asses handed to them, wait ’til we play cowboys and globalists.”

“An empty mind is easier to clutter with the falsehoods of democracy than a mind that, at the very least, knows right from wrong.”
:Finalygotabeltfed, 2010.

Interesting folks, these people who play with Kerosene lanterns and like their “guns and religion”… ;-)

There are several threads out there on running ‘variety fuels’ in various Coleman models with particular praise for particular Canadian models. It seems that the Kerosene ones from Canada work quite happily on white gas / naphtha… so I might try an experiment along those lines “someday” with my new Kerosene one (since IF I’m reading that thread right, it has the Canadian style generator in it…)

This guy is doing “Garage Engineering” on his Coleman. Added a ‘warming cup’ to the generator and runs it on kerosene… I may well try this with my “Dual Fuel” (perhaps after finding out if ethanol laden gasoline has me buying a seals kit…)

All of which looks like great fun, and useful to know (especially in an Aw Shit moment); but not something you want in your Disaster Preparedness Kit as the default…

The net-net of it all looks to be that the size of the orifice to inject gas is a slightly different size (but not that important with the use of the fuel valve letting you make up for it with Kerosene in a gas lamp – less so gas in a Kerosene lamp but still close enough) and more importantly, the generator tube is a bit larger in the Kerosene lamps (as the fuel is harder to vaporize) and there is a ‘warming cup’ where you put some alcohol to preheat the generator tube. A feature that would be useful even with gasoline, IMHO.

Well, I thought about sinking a few weeks into wandering yard sales looking for a 220 model or looking for an old 237 Kerosene model for cheap, and realized I’d likely spend $100 of gas doing it, not to mention the time. So all in all it seemed more effective to just buy a new one and “move on”. So I did.

Coleman Kerosene Lanterns Now

I found 3 different Coleman Kerosene lanterns that looked to be the current or near current models. A 2 mantle version #288 looks to be out of production, a large 1 mantle version, and a small 1 mantle version.

The small one mantle version had some reviews that said it regularly had puffs and blooms and flickers. A symptom of too cold a generator. While it might be that some folks were just not warming it up enough, I tend to think that maybe it’s a newer design that’s just not as robust as the old Canadian heritage. The 2 mantle version was sporadic in places were I saw it. Was it a new one, or an old one? Wasn’t exactly clear. I’ve also had both dual and single mantle lanterns and as near as I can tell, the major difference is that the dual mantles have twice the opportunities to screw up a mantle and twice the trouble in lighting them.

So, in the end, I settled on the Old Style Large One Mantle model. Model# 3000001138. (Somehow a 237 just seems more interesting… but I’m hoping this is more the same than different.) This old style lantern also looks like it is the only one still in production. Sometimes the old tried and true is already perfected….

The Downside

The only downside of these lanterns, near as I can tell, is that they require a preheat burn on the generator tube. OK, so I need to have some rubbing alcohol around. I have that anyway. I also need to be comfortable putting the glass and top on while it’s making fire. Frankly, I find that a bit of a feature 8-0 Given how it can be a bit finicky to get the gas ones going in the cold anyway, having a warming cup on the generator looks like something that’s a generic feature. Heck, adding one to the Dual Fuel would seem like a nice addition for cold starts in the mountains in the winter…

It will also be a bit less likely that any parts needed will be in the local hardware store.
I can live with that.

This thing will be fired up a couple of times, then mostly sit in the “Aw Shit” box waiting for The Day. It will either work when needed, or I go to “lamp B” on the list. (With C, D, and E – candles, behind it) At the same time the “Dual Fuel” lantern comes out and goes into service on Unleaded as a BBQ / Yard light to give “ambiance” to the evenings and for the occasional trip out into the boonies… I’ve generally used a single mantle Primus Propane lantern for that as it is very small and works well with a quick easy light, but at $3 for a one quart propane can vs $4 for a gallon of unleaded, well…

Can you tell that Spring is kinda sorta here? Yes, a bit cold and having late rain and overcast with wind… but I’m looking at the great outdoors, and thinking BBQ, gas light, and more. Besides, it’s always fun to play with fire ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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19 Responses to Changing Preparedness Lights

  1. omanuel says:

    Thanks, E.M.Smith. I agree that social and economic systems are collapsing. I suspect world leaders are as frightened as everyone else now.

    The policies that brought us to this stage were initiated in 1945-46 to “save the world” from the threat of destruction in “nuclear fires” like those that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in July 1945.

    The United Nations were established on 24 October 1945, and we have probably been on the downhill path to a fascist Orwellian state since then.

    Instead of preparing for disaster, I sincerely wish there were some actions we could take to benefit mankind and avoid disaster.

  2. John F. Hultquist says:

    “Now, for actual lighting most of the time, using an LED light on the end of a drop cord from the car, with an inverter, . . .”

    I bought two inverters some time ago when you wrote about them. I need to get the LED on the cord to complete that part.

    Also looking at getting a Honda EU3000i Handi Portable Generator. We just got an old camper without a generator and plan to add AC; otherwise a size 2000 unit would likely do the job.

    There are 5 or 6 boxes of old fashioned wood matches tucked away with some candles. I’ve got a couple of old lanterns and Coleman stoves. I need to check the lanterns – haven’t needed one in about 5 years.

    In the center of the house there is a free-standing wood burner of a stove. It is about 30 years old and does not have the glass (?) front that most new models seem to have. I suspect that is a charm feature rather than for the light it would give to a darkened room. I have lots of what I call “trash” wood, so fuel for the stove is handy and free – not counting the chainsaw and the work.

    The house is all electric. Road side ditches encourage black cottonwood trees to grow above the utility lines and living in a high wind zone means broken trees and no power. Not often and usually fixed within 4 hours. Still, this sort of event is once a year or so event. Earthquakes where we live are possible but very unlikely. We are within ash-fall range of Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Rainier but the lahars they might produce will not come this way. Deep snow (> 5 feet) has happened once in 25 years but kept us in for 3 days. Trees and brush are too close for wild-fire comfort. I keep pushing back on the growth, but nature is relentless. As you mention, our local disaster can be different and needs different preparedness.

    Being 12 miles from the nearest gas station, hardware store, and grocery — there are things to think about, including that it costs $5 to make the round trip. For example, we keep the freezers full of food and/or 2-liter water (soda) bottles for a buffer when the power goes or the road washes out.

    Sleep time now. Regards, John

  3. E.M.Smith says:


    “Belt and suspenders”. Prepare for the worst, work for the best.

    There is nothing that prevents preparing for the inevitable disaster ( for me, a 7-8+ scale earthquake is guaranteed – eventually) while at the same time living a happy and full life, helping others and doing what is best done.

    So my daughter is getting her degree in the next year. My son is enamored of a lady working on her RN. The spouse helps kids with a variety of learning disabilities to become as effective at life as possible. And me? I tilt at “Climate Science” windmills and hope it will stave off “The Stupids” just long enough for those I care about to achieve what they want from life. Along the way I make BBQ, have some good wine, and ponder the meaning of life. All good things.

    You have a bit of a fixation with a seminal event in your life. I appreciate that. I also appreciate that, from what I’ve been able to tell, you are likely correct that the sun is not as we generally are told; and that our Political Overlords are a bit scared.

    Frankly, I suspect they are trying to do the best they can, but are so far divorced from a normal reality based life that they lack the needed grounding. This leads them to embrace Social Fads like Global Warming and “Being Green”. They just didn’t spend a dozen years in the oil fields, or playing with engines, or a hundred and one other things the rest of us have done. They live in carefully manicured social circles that are all focused on “Who you know not what you know”, so consequently, they just don’t know as much as they ought to know… and spend too much time making sure ‘who they know’ is the right whom and that whatever they believe is in concordance; even if reality is different.

    But ought you let that dominate your life?

    IMHO, the best revenge is just to “Live in spite of them”.

    So say your piece. Have your insight into where they have gone off the rails.

    BUT, each day find time to learn a new thing. Discover a new passion. Kiss someone you love. Eat a new food (and love it or hate it). Rediscover an old passion.

    In short: Don’t let the bastards wear you down.

    Instead, laugh at them. Ignore them (that’s often a real burr under their saddle ;-). Continue to learn and explore your unique understandings in spite of them.

    Just don’t let them dominate who you are, where you focus, or how you feel about life.

    Life is too short to drink bad wine, and many of The Power Elite are more vinegar than grape juice… so spit them out and go find the good stuff… (And yes, put up “Here there be Dragons!” signs … or perhaps “Here they be vinegar and not so bright too”! )

    So can we get back to the issue of what kind of lighting works best with the available fuels, and why it’s a good thing to make preparations “For that day”? Can you let go, just for a while, of the hurt that’s been done some time ago? Perhaps take a moment to look at your local environment, ask what physical disasters happen here, and how can I be prepared to come through them with a smile while helping my friends?

    After the Loma Prieta quake, we had a party at my house. Los Gatos had houses off their foundations. San Francisco had fires in the Marina district. 100+ people were dead under collapsed double deck freeways in Oakland. We had cheese, wine, TV from “Back East”, and more. It’s all a question of state of mind… And a bit of preparation.

    We had one of the early Direct TV satellite TV systems. We were watching news reports about the SF Bay Area from back east. (Local stations were off the air). We had a generator and fuel ( though it wasn’t needed… power outages ended 2 blocks from my home… I drove for about an hour at 20 mhp or less through blackout areas and places with homes destroyed…. to find my home well lit…) So upon arriving home, I found a couple of friends families at our home as we had power and they did not. (Would have been the same if we’d been running the generator).

    What to do? I pulled the cork on some wine, set out a cheese and crackers tray, and we “watched the disaster on TV” while having a “Quake Party”. Sows ear and silk purses…

    I also snuck away from time to time to make sure the garbage cans with our post quake gear were away from the house, to make sure fuel was in the cans and they were away from everything else. To check that the generator was fueled and had a power cord ready to run. And half a dozen other things. It could have been a fore shock…

    Along the way we got lighting ready as evening was becoming night, and there was no guarantee power would stay on. I set up a gas lantern on the kitchen table, ready to light, if needed, and we placed a couple of flashlights in convenient places.

    In the end, we mostly had a nice afternoon party. It was fun to watch the East Coast coverage and then relate what we personally knew. So they were wondering about looters and social chaos. I knew that ordinary folks were just “making it work”. One intersection had a lady in a business suit directing traffic. Another major intersection had a 10 speed bike leaned against a pole and a guy in blue and yellow spandex directing traffic. NOBODY told them to do it. They were not cops. Just ordinary folks choosing to do what needed done. I took care of a couple of families (with kids) as their home was without power. We had a party. (Why not? Would it be any better if we were miserable and afraid? No. So “Living well is the best revenge”…)

    In the end, we are all dead. Just some of us have not reached that moment of time yet. We are guaranteed to end there. All we can choose is the nature of the journey. So I choose to make mine Chocolate ;-) Don’t let others make yours bitter almonds… Yes, toss a few arrows their way, but make sure you find time for a bit of cheese and wine, and maybe even contemplating the virtues of kerosene over gasoline in lanterns, or the seemingly infinite shelf life of a candle… Sometimes all those “little things” can be what make life more interesting …

    So answer me these things:

    1) What is the big natural disaster where you live? Quakes? Storms? Flooding? Drought?

    2) What have you done to be prepared for it when it hits? Stored food? Water? Tent? Lighting?

    3) If not prepared, why?

    4) Do you think it would be a “Good Thing” to make sure you can help those you like, who are not prepared, when The Bad Thing comes? Think it might be a pleasant and even fun thing to prepare to set up “Oliver’s Kitchen” or “Oliver’s Cheese and Wine Tasting” or even “Oliver’s Video Show with Popcorn” after The Bad Thing has passed?

    5) Is there really anything more important than helping those others to be happy at a time that is most prone to unhappiness? Can you find happiness in that helping?

    At the end of that I think you will find your soul a tiny bit restored… Yes, there’s evil in the world… but sometimes you can beat it back with the simplest of things. Sometimes just a bit of light, some snack foods, and a beverage or two…. with friends.

  4. Dave says:

    “Exploded and burned up my tent!” = BAD CAMPING TRIP :-)

  5. EM – that is a thoughtful and useful reply to Oliver, and encapsulates my thinking too.

    On the subject of LED lighting, I’ll suggest that installing a separate 12V line around the house and using a standard 12V battery to drive 12V LED lamps may be a good idea. It saves one level of complexity in having an inverter. The 12V LEDs are normally rated AC, but since internally they have a bridge rectifier they work happily on DC too. I have several battery-powered tri-led lamps stuck to the walls here. Not bright enough to do anything useful with, but enough to see where you’re going when normal power fails. Paraffin (kerosene) storm lanterns are a fall-back and candles as a further fall-back.

    I’m not likely to get earthquakes here, and the last tornado in the area was in ’86, but occasionally there’ll be major storms – last one was 3 years ago and the power was out for around 4 days so the genny got a bit of testing and kept the freezers frozen and the TVs active.

    One thing about all the “End of the World” prophecies is that so far they’ve all been wrong. There may be some nasty things happening, but providing we are prepared and have reasonably prepared for them, we can help those less-prepared and still have a good time. Somehow the “having a good time” seems more important than most things.

  6. Pascvaks says:

    Old saying: “Be Prepared!”

    A’la Katrina: “The worst strategy is to rely on “The System”. When you find yourself in a swamp full of alligators (so to speak) the last boat to arrive will be the Feds, and they’ll only be there to do a survey and ask how long you’ve had your problem with your big mouth neighbors. Never rely on “The System” to save you from anything; or do anything else beneficial.

    FWIW: The older I get the more I appreciate the agile mind, and the longer I dwell in certain places. I have no control over many things anymore, especially the chemistry of my hopes and fears. Perhaps the kind words will work, but understand that that may not. If they do, well and good. If they don’t, consider that he is giving you a glimpse into the future. Appreciate what you have now, as it too will pass. What you read now you will write later mayhaps.

  7. adolfogiurfa says:

    Politicians REALLY need to stop playing Engineer…(or playing the doctors, the priests, being our “elders”, or whatever) they are not very good at it. PERIOD.

    Is it not that now kerosene is being added with “bio-fuel”?

  8. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M. Along the way I make BBQ, have some good wine, and ponder the meaning of life. All good things.
    I will tell you that there are already places where these “good things of life” have been already prohibited. (I just saw it yesterday on TV: “BBQ”, forbidden for contaminating the atmosphere with CO2. “Good Wine”, its consumption being checked- in that country- in car drivers who come out from restaurants, after lunch or at “happy hours” time- allowed alcohol content in blood: 0.03 micrograms per ml.-ZERO in practice) Hard to believe but it is true.

    @Simon: One thing about all the “End of the World” prophecies is that so far they’ve all been wrong……..And nobody prophesied that THEY were the apocalypse horses.

  9. gerard says:

    E.M., there is an easy way to make ethanol free gasoline. I have an old 6hp outboard motor from 1965 (had it in high school and it still runs) and we used to use white gas and add the oil to make a mix like 50:1. To remove ethanol from current day gasoline just add water to your gasoline and shake it up vigorously. Here in Texas we have E10 so for a gallon of gas you have about 1/10 gal. of ethanol. Add about 1/10 gal of water, shake it up and let sit 24 hrs. After the shake up there is what looks like an emulsion, tiny bubbles of water and ethanol. It takes about 24 hrs to settle to the bottom where it can be drained out. I bought a 500ml graduated cylinder and a glass separation funnel to test this out. Since ethanol has an octane number of 108.6, taking it out of 87 octane gasoline brings it down to 76.14 octane if all is perfectly removed. To get back to 87 octane add toluene (111 octane) at 1/10 gal. approximately. This would be for running an engine but for a stove or old lantern 76 octane gasoline should be OK. I use the gallon quantity because it is easier to shake 1 gal than a 5 gal jug. With a little patience one can do a gallon a day and store the result without working too hard. If you want to get fancy you could save the water/ethanol that is extracted and distill out the ethanol and use it for something else. I’d be a bit leery of using it in a cocktail but it could be savaged for fuel. No sense throwing away 10% of what you bought.

  10. omanuel says:


    Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I will share those with my wife tonight.

  11. NeilM says:

    Have you tried Aladdin kerosene/paraffin lamps?
    I find them much easier to use than a pressure lamp and they give out about 900 watts of heat.
    They use a small blue flame centre draft burner with a Thorium mantle (and yes they are slightly radioactive). Light output is equivalent to a 60W incandescent lamp. I have a couple of old model lamps which I like to use during the winter – burning extra refined (low sulphur) paraffin.

  12. E.M.Smith says:


    I have one in the garage somewhere. It does a good job of making light, but being all glass and with a tall slender chimney, unlikely to survive a quake and hose collapse… Part of the feature of the Coleman is that even if the glass breaks, it still makes light. Saw a metal screen gizmo to replace the glass if hard core. May get one…

    IIRC, when playing with the Aladdin, after some (modestly long) hours of use I had to play with the wick trimming it et. al. and if you left it with fuel in it for a very long time, the fuel left… So it can’t be “ready to go fuel inside”. All manageable, but I’m looking for less stuff to manage if the house is down…


    Well, I’m happy to keep my money and not go out to restaurants if they want to be that draconian…

    And anyone that tries to ban BBQ in the USA is going “to have issues”… IF it comes to it, I’d move to Texas. Frankly, from about New Mexico to Florida and up to about Virginia, any attempt to ban BBQ would be about as popular as mandating everyone wear pink and speak Pig Latin…

    To the best of my knowledge, kerosene has only had a low sulphur requirement (so it smells better now too) and more straight chain / less benzine rings; so it makes less sooty exhaust on jet takeoff (and less from the lamp too). If they make a bio-kerosene (use short chain fatty acids) it ought to work just fine, so I’d not really care. Heck, I’m planning to try some bio-diesel in a lamp at some point. As long as the oxygen is in the middle of the chain, bonded each way like an ether, it’s not a problem. It’s the -OH on the end that’s reactive.


    You’re welcome.


    I’d take a dozen quakes and one over 7 rather than a single hurricane… come to think of it, I have ;-)

    I expect after The Problem, what ever it is, I’ll be helping the neighbors and expecting zero from the Feds. When they do show up, I expect them to be bossy arrogant knownothings who will demand that I shut down Smith’s Kitchen as it is not FDA Inspected and confiscate the generator fuel as a fire hazard… Leaving us in the dark but promising to come back Real Soon Now…

    Then I’ll just open the next Tub and take out “Level B”, and pick up where we left off ;-)

    @John F. Hultquist:

    FWIW, I found 1 kW ran all that really needed in an emergency. But not the AC, washer / dryer, and major appliances. I had a 4 kW with 5 kW “surge” that was OK for induction motors, but it had a ‘lag’ on load pick up that I think caused a wall AC to croak. It would kick in, volts would sag, generator would cough and pick up speed, then AC would work. Rand that way for half a day then shut it off. Day or two later it wouldn’t run… Probably would not have happened other than that with all of about 400 W load, they thing was at very closed throttle…

    So I’d suggest if you are going to run sensitive equipment, put a battery and inverter in there somewhere. That’s part of why I got the large inverter. Didn’t get it set up before stable power returned… At any rate, a couple of batteries and an inverter doesn’t have the volts lag. I’d leave the induction motors and such straight off the generator…

    I figured a 2 kW was more than enough as my average consumption is under 1 kW and a 2 kW would likely have a decent surge. Add the batteries and inverter, I’d likely be able to surge 4 or 5 kW total, with very little sag.


    For a 5 or 10 W device, even if it were only 90% efficient, we’re still talking all of 1 W wasted. Not worth the trouble to do the wiring…

  13. EM – I wasn’t worrying about the power loss; as you note it is trivial. More importantly, that inverter may fail, and with 12V lighting you can carry on. If the LEDs fail, then you have a number of 12V bulbs in the car for the taking. Although it is a pain to have a separate wiring system in the house, that also could prove useful for other 12V devices you can then plug in. Camping/caravan accessories will generally be low-consumption, and are often 12V supply. If you are only thinking of emergency use, then a 12V socket in each room that you can plug a lamp into will be fine, and quick and easy to set up, but if you’re thinking of extended use then more wiring would be convenient.

  14. omanuel says:


    Thanks again for your comments.

    My wife also appreciates your insight.

    Potential and ongoing disasters in SE Missouri include renewed earthquake activities from the New Madrid fault, high unemployment, homelessness, drug addiction, and a sense of despair.

    Unanticipated disasters include solar eruptions, the strange events of September 11, 2001, acts of desperation – like attacks on other countries to divert attention from the demise of society and solidify support for political leaders who do not know how to address the problems listed above.

    “The love of money separated “scientists” from reality in 1946, as surely
    as it has separated “religionists” from God throughout recorded history.”

  15. George says:

    I happened into the Wal*Mart in Ukiah a couple of weeks ago and they had a rather good stock of camping supplies including kerosene lanterns. I’m not saying it is worth driving all the way up there to buy a lantern but to note that there is a significant culture change that goes on once you get North of about Geyeserville on 101. Get up around Ukia and Willits (maybe even as far South as Cloverdale) and you start finding a lot more interesting “stuff” in both the big box stores and in small shops. Once you get up that way there are a lot of people living “off grid” in the hills around there and the stores have the sorts of things such people would likely need more than the average person in Silicon Valley might.

  16. Jerry says:

    My choice for a ‘got to work, now, every time, keep on working’,…. light source:

    Ole Programmer maxim: ‘Any program that works is better than any program that does not work!’
    Capillary action in a cotton wick just works. Pressure systems?, hmmm, not so much.
    Wicks defeat June bugs. Mantles break in accordance with Murphy’s Law – and June bugs.
    Nothing against Coleman lanterns – got a couple of them (gas) and they are bright and reliable – but also hot and have a loud hiss. Just local, but here in Texas we have hurricanes in August, not earthquakes in January, so for the most part heat is not a ‘Feature’.
    Jupiter lantern puts out a nice light, no noise, low heat, just an ambiance of kerosene fumes, and goes forever on an 84 oz. tank..

  17. E.M.Smith says:


    Oddly, I have an old car headlight over my workbench. One of the elements burned out, but the other still works, so I wired it up. It’s on a transformer now, but was intended to go to the battery box… I’d likely wire up the garage and some of the outdoors, but use a ‘drop cord’ to bet power into other rooms in an emergency.

    I’m not worried about the inverter failing… I’ve got 4 of them that I can remember ;-)

    2 kW not in service still in blister pack.
    300 W in a box of “not needed at the moment”.
    200 W in an emergency bag.
    100 W in the backpack.
    150 W? in a “ought to be in a car box”.
    200 W in a ‘bought in Florida to have a spare’ box…

    Oh, wait, that’s 6 that I can remember …

    As any one of them would like enough LEDs for the house, not high on the list of “ToDo”.

    Though I do agree that if possible, it would be preferable to have the house dual wired in 12 VDC and 110 AC. As one can buy “12 Volt Track Lighting”, it would not be hard to do.

    BTW, the efficiency and life of an incandescent bulb rises with dropping voltage. 12 volt track lighting is significantly more efficient than 120 Volt which is more efficient than 240 Volt. Fatter elements to carry the current at low volts makes for longer life. Big chunks of hot metal emit light better than little ones… (or some such). So last I looked we could still buy 12 Volt incandescent track lights as they met the efficiency bar.

    So for a lot of reasons I’d like a dual wired home. But the cost of fat copper and installing it keeps it on a “maybe if I win the lottery” list…


    Same thing, though not quite as strong, going out in the boonies to the south and east too. I’d bet the old fishing tackle shop in Tracy still has a cheaper version of Lamp Gas… It’s been a while since I’ve gone to Ukiah… might make a nice vacation trip… nice fishing and camping up there.


    Oh God, you’re on top of the New Madrid? The rocks back there transmit the shock a bit more harshly than out here. Hope it holds off for a while…

    Frankly, you touch on one of my unsaid but larger concerns. That our “Leaders” think they have some way to control what isn’t controllable; and when they find out they really don’t have control, will make things worse flailing around…

    When some nut cases largely of Saudi origin, ginned up by largely Iranian dogma and provisioned by a radical leader in Afghanistan… we attacked Iraq… Go figure… That kind of thing has me wondering about who is doing what and why more than anything else.

    FWIW when the next Carrington Event class event happens, I expect it will be interesting times…

    What causes me occasional loss of sleep is, as you put it: “demise of society and solidify support for political leaders who do not know how to address the problems listed above.”

    The incompetent leading the clueless… OK when things are fine, fails when things break.


    Don’t have June Bugs here, but visiting My Texas Uncle, I had the misfortune to drive after dark and need gas… Needing gas was probably good since it gave me a chance to trowel the inch of bug carcasses of the windshield. Though I did notice a couple of “Live Ones” by a lamp post arguing over which of them would get to carry off a small child nearby… The spouse complained when I got back in the car as I’d let a platoon of them in with me. I told her it was a feature as their wing beats were helping cool us off, being stronger than the blower in the AC. Still, I opened the door to shoo them out and exchanged 2 old for 6 new…

    Moral of Story: In East Texas, be sure the tank if full before sundown in summer. Carry an industrial scraper (ice scrapers seemed to work) and having a bee keepers helmet is helpful if you do have to buy gas at a Well Lit Gas Station in the middle of a bug farm… Enter and exit the car swiftly and without even momentary pause.

    Hadn’t though what they would do to a lantern glass… now I know why they sell the steel mess screen at the Army Surplus place…

    I have a couple of glass indoors kerosene lamps. But haven’t gotten a hurricane lantern just because all the ones around here are crap tin things from China. 84 ounces?! Golly. Fill it on Monday and still have half a tank on Friday… I’ll take it from your recommendation that this particular model is a “good one”… Given that, I’ll likely buy one of them, too. Always wanted a good one, just didn’t know where to find one…

    Per noise:

    Last night I was on the patio “Cat Hunting”… (don’t worry, it was with a soft plastic insult pellet…) and made coffee on the propane stove while waiting. Now I’m partly deaf, so don’t notice a lot of noises. But in the still of the night, that sucker was hissing a lot. The pump up lanterns do the same… So I’m not likely to use the lantern as “ambiance” lighting when on the Patio alone. It’s for “Group things” where the dB level rises above 80 as “folks talk”.

    I picked up what I think is a Swiss emergency stove at the Surplus Store for $4. Looks like Amazon sells them in packs of 3:

    The picture shows the “stove” on top of the can. It comes wrapped around the bottom. Matches included. Inside shrink wrap. It, too, is silent…

    I’ll likely be making my next coffee at night with it. I made one as a test case. It put a bit of soot on the pan, so don’t use your best… ( I suspect it’s a heavier alcohol than methanol. It lacks the intense purple die color and is clear white gel).

    Didn’t use hardly any of the fuel and boiled 12 ounces of water in 5 or 6 minutes. Large pan was bit ‘tippy’ on the stove, so I’ll be using a smaller one next time. Probably intended for a mess kit cup.

    The can is sealed with an inner thick aluminum foil / metal layer. Have a knife to cut it open, but don’t worry about evaporation prior to cutting the seal. Lid TWISTS off. (has an odd ‘inner ring’ with dimples into slanted mating surface and has a rubber / polymer seal for resealing after you cut the liner).

    Nice. Very nice. Not spectacular. Not a great stove. But very cheap and “fit for purpose” in an “Aw Shit Kit”. I’ll likely get more and put one in each car kit. It’s not been easy finding something that has the fuel ‘keep’ in the car. Hard metal seal makes me think these will do it.

    One of them making coffee and a Hurricane Lamp being quiet would have better esthetics when alone on the patio… But the Coleman would be better for groups. Belt and suspenders…

  18. Jerry says:

    Hello E. M.

    The Jupiter is a great lantern – I would buy another one. I also have a ‘Cooker’ lantern – Dietz – same brand and it is a quality lantern but the cooker part is more a novelty than a got to have. :) Bit tall and tippy as a stove though it does sorta work. A stove like your Swiss one or a Coleman single burner (gas or propane) is a real stove. If you buy at note that the shipping is based on order total. I find myself padding a couple of low price items sometimes to get close to the upper cutoff as the shipping seems free on those items. LOL, that is probably the general idea, but if you don’t mind falling for this marketing gimmick also take a look at the seeds in the Gardening category. They got Cherokee Purple Tomato seeds (does not say how many 32 nds but they are not Liz Warren blue eye/blond), also Dragoon Carrot seeds – ‘The most refined purple carrot available’. Hmmm, I did not know ANY purple carrots were available, guess I need to get out more. I did get some of that Giant Peruvian White Corn discussed in a thread from several months ago and it is up a foot or so now after a couple of weeks.

  19. Pascvaks says:

    Pic above and comments brought to mind a tuna can, cardboard ribbing, and wax Do-It-Yourself stove I saw somewhere (that I’ve given up looking for;-), but in the process of my search, I came upon a site that offers a variety of gizmos (Paraffin/Wax/Candle Stoves). Looks pretty good, and has links to other types it seems (didn’t look;-), good to keep as link(?) –

    Anyway, looks like the sterno cook top would also work on a home-made-wax-can stove (in the trade referred to as a HMWCS, you know like a “Hummmm-V”;-)

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