The Coal Oil or Kerosene Lamp.
Many children are badly burned and some burned to death by the blowing up and by the overturning of coal oil lamps. When a lamp explodes, or is dropped or knocked over and broken, burning oil is splashed about, and the clothes of persons within reach of this liquid fire begin to burn upon their bodies. All the facts of the chemistry of fire, and of explosion as well, can be told in a simple story of what occurs in the light of a coal oil lamp. While the lamp burns, the oil slowly disappears, being changed to gases which cannot be seen. Kerosene, being the thinnest of the oils, safe for use in lamps, is drawn rapidly to the top of a wick. W’hen a match flame is touched to the oil in the wick’s top, its heat loosens the atoms of carbon and hydrogen, of which the oil is made. They then unite with atoms of oxygen of the air, for which they have a greater attraction than they have for each other. This causes a flame. Each car bon atom is so greedy that it seizes two atoms of oxygen from the air to form carbonic acid, while each pair of hydrogen atoms takes one of oxygen to form water. The carbonic acid, which is a gas, and the water in the form of a vapor are carried out of the top of the chimney. The chimney of a lamp forces the current of fresh air caused by the rising of the heated air within it. to pass close to the flame, so that oxygen can be taken from it. This movement of air is called a draught. Light is made by the particles of carbon becoming white hot befofe they are burned up. The hottest flames make no light. Do not try to blow out a lamp while the flame is high. Doing so may break the chimney or force the flame down into the lamp bowl and cause an explosion. Turn the wick down until the blaze is half its usual size, and then blow over the chimney’s top; not down it. To turn the blaze euite low and blow into the burner is more dangerous. If the top of the wick is above the top of the tube when the lamp is not lighted, oil will be drawn up and will run down over the lamp. The heating of the brass in the burner may warm the oil until it gives off a vapor in the lamp globe. If the wick is too small to fill the tube, the flame will flash down to this vapor, and the lamp will blow up. The screen must be kept open, so that the flame can breathe. If the chimney is not clear down on the burner, the lamp smokes, because the flame gets too much air. When a lamp is turned too high, it smokes, because there is too much fuel for the air supply. The brass in the burner and collar should be kept clean and bright, so that the heat will pass off. Only dirty burners heat lamps so as to make them explode. When a burner cannot be rubbed bright, it should be thrown away because it is dangerous. A lamp should not be set in the sun nor close to a fire, nor hung to the ceiling over a table on which a lamp is used. When a lamp that has been burning needs to be filled, do not take off the burner near another light or a fire The vapor in the bowl of the lamp may expand until it reaches a blaze and explodes. Flaming oil is then thrown over every one who is near. Above all, remember that filling a lamp without first putting it out is very dangerous. When two-thirds of the oil in a lamp has been used it should be filled again. Once each week the oil left in a lamp should be poured back into the can through a piece of cloth on a funnel to filter it clear. This is to remove dirt that has settled to the bottom. The char should be removed from the wick every day. When a wick is half burned up a new one should be put in. A lamp cared for in this way will give a bright, white light and will not blacken the burner nor explode. The burners for round wicks are safer than those which use fiat ones. Air one-eighth oil vapor will blow up, if it touches a flame. In Ohio there are more than two houses fired each week by the exploding or upsetting of coal oil lamps. The houses burned down by fires started by lamps and lanterns in this State in 1907 cost $168,000. The persons burned to death by lamp accidents numbered seventeen.