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Old 31-01-2009, 09:31   #16
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Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
Methanol or Methyl Hydrate (CH3OH), also known as Carbinol, Methylated Spirit, Methyl Alcohol, Wood Alcohol, Wood Spirits and (wood) Naptha, is available in your local hardware store; and is used as gas-line antifreeze, as a solvent for shellac & etc., and as a fuel for camp stoves & lamps.
A methanol flame is almost colourless in bright sunlight conditions, and burns well in an un-pressurized burner.
Methanol is poisonous - When ingested, even in quantities as small as 10 milliliter (two tea-spoonsful), Methanol can cause permanent blindness, and 100 milliliter may be fatal.
NO NO NO NO!!!!!


DO NOT USE METHANOL IN A WICKED LAMP!!!!! It WILL EXPLODE! Only use it in a lamp specifically desigend for alcohol!!!!

Gord, this is crazy! What ARE you thinking?????? Please only post something you actually understand and know something about!!!!
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Old 31-01-2009, 12:19   #17
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GK: Re-reading what I wrote, I'm thinking I see nothing I would retract without contrary illumination.
Please elaborate on your objection(s).
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Old 31-01-2009, 13:09   #18
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Nothing to retract Gord But as great ketch said DO NOT USE ALCOHOL BASED FUELS IN OIL LAMPS!!!!!


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Old 01-02-2009, 01:11   #19
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GK: Re-reading what I wrote, I'm thinking I see nothing I would retract without contrary illumination.
Please elaborate on your objection(s).
I am not sure why metho was brought up. the previous post was about mineral spirits, not methylated spirits
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Old 01-02-2009, 02:21   #20
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I sailed a 22' boat for 16 years with no engine. Used kerosene lamps all the time. Read by the light easily of just one lamp. Always used kerosene, but mineral spirits will work also. Never had a problem with smell or suet. If you use kerosene and want to knock the oder down add no more than about 5% alcohol. I know people who swear by that. I now do that for my kero stove and works well.

- For flat wicks (never used the tube shaped ones)
The SECRET to oil lamps is wick triming. By this I don't mean just cutting off the top part that has burned. If you trim a wick flat accross that leaves you with square corners on the wick. This makes your flame look like the horns of the devil and the devil it is. The wick will smoke and smell when you try to turn the lamp up for decent light. You need to trim the wick with a convex shape to it. No hard corners. with this accomplished you can crank up your light, read Hornblower and have no smell or suet. I suggest you get yourself a good glass of sipping rum while your reading Hornblower.


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Old 01-02-2009, 04:25   #21
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A little bit of after shave added to parafine (kerosine) makes a good lamp oil. It is of course, mainly organic spirits and it really will not make your oil lamp blow up! It seems cheaper than buying lamp oil at the grocery store. Do not use your wife's perfume! And no, don't ask me how I know.
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Old 01-02-2009, 11:01   #22
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GK: Re-reading what I wrote, I'm thinking I see nothing I would retract without contrary illumination.
Please elaborate on your objection(s).
As odd as it may sound, lamp oil, kerosene and mineral spirits are not "flammable" liquids. In its most simple definition a flamamble liquid is volitile enough at room temperature to give off vapors which burn. Methanol, gasoline, acetone, and the like are "flammable". At room temperature they give off vapors which can burn and even explode.

On the other hand, diesel fuel, lamp oil, kerosene, even vegtable oil are all liquids which give off burnable vapors only at elevated temperatures. They are classified as "combustable" liquids.

A wick lamp burns because you put a match to the wick and heat the liquid right on the wick above its "flash point" and it gives off vapors which then burn giving the flame which is the object of the exercise. It is self limiting because only the liquid right at the surface of the wick gets hot enough to give off burnable vapors.

Filling a wick lamp with methanol (or gasoline for that matter!) there is no such limiting factor. The liquid in the tank is giving off burnable vapors. The entire lamp is nothing but a molotov cocktail.

There ARE lamps that are specifically made to burn alcohol and gasoline. Such lamps IMO have no place onboard a boat or in any confined space and they are NOT the subject of this thread.

I did ten years of industrial research on chemical and chemical process safety, I really do know of which I speak on this topic. If this "popular" version of the explaination is not sufficient I would be happy to discuss it in more detail and including lots of data and references.

Cutting and pasting internet factoids taken out of context makes you look smart, but in this case gives information that is extrememly dangerous to the unsuspecting person who thinks you know what you are talking about. Your post, intentionally or not, suggests that using methanol in regular lamps is a good idea. It is NOT. Nothing you copied into your post is inaccurate as a stane-alone fact but in the context of the thread it is very dangerous.
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Old 01-02-2009, 11:46   #23
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GreatKetch, great job, good popular explanation.
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Old 01-03-2009, 15:38   #24
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Although mentioned in the thread sometimes, I think most readers missed this: what is called kerosine in one part of the world, is called parafine elsewhere. It is the same thing. If you buy lamp-oil and read the label, it will probably state that it is 100% pure kerosine or parafine. Some have additives though...

If you use kerosine and it is sooting, smelling etc., you are using a quality that isn't refined enough for your tastes.

We use parafine/kerosine/lamp oil for cleaning the gears/bearings etc. of the winches. Pour enough in a bucket so that the parts can soak in it. After use, put it back in the bottle except for the sediment in the bucket and use next time... but don't burn your lamps with it anymore ;-)

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Old 01-03-2009, 16:22   #25
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I think mineral spirits refers to "Varsol" commonly used as a paint thinner.
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Old 01-03-2009, 16:43   #26
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I agree that using various volatile hydrocarbons in a lamp not designed for them is dangerous. In my years of practicing medicine, I have actually had many occasions to see the results in the form of severe burns from explosions.
I vote for lamp oil: less soot and smell than kerosene, worth the extra cost. Some of my cruising friends use these lamps at home, no odor or smoke.
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Old 01-03-2009, 19:31   #27
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Both kerosene and "lamp oil" are alkanes. Alkanes are straight chain or linear compounds with carbon atoms joined to each other by single bonds.

The first four alkanes are methane, ethane, propane and butane - all gasses. Methane has 1 carbon, ethane, 2, propane 3 and butane 4.

Kerosene is a mixture of hydrocarbons of the alkane series, consisting mainly of hydrocarbons with 11 or 12 carbon atoms.

Paraffin (Weems & Plath lamp fuel, for example, is a highly-refined paraffin) consists of saturated hydrocarbons with 13 - 16 carbon atoms.

After 16 carbon atoms, alkanes are usually solid - wax.
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Old 01-03-2009, 22:03   #28
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Pathfinder,

You are absolute right but also wrong if you state that in some parts of the world... I get confused myself ;-)

I think in the USA an oil lamp is commonly referred to as "kerosene lamp" while the same thing is commonly named "paraffin lamp" in England. In Holland, paraffin means the solid form, paraffin wax, not a liquid fuel.

It would be quite an exercise to determine what is meant by which word in each part of the world or might the fuel have the same name and is it just the lamps that are called different? Lamp oil is (where I come from) a more refined form of kerosene. It was sold labeled as kerosene for lamps first, as lamp oil later.

A search on Wikipedia for paraffin shows up with this:

Quote:
In chemistry, paraffin is the common name for the alkane hydrocarbons with the general formula CnH2n+2. Paraffin wax refers to the solids with n=20–40.
The simplest paraffin molecule is that of methane, CH4, a gas at room temperature. Heavier members of the series, such as that of octane C8H18, appear as liquids at room temperature. The solid forms of paraffin, called paraffin wax, are from the heaviest molecules from C20H42 to C40H82. Paraffin wax was identified by Carl Reichenbach in 1830.[1]
Paraffin, or paraffin hydrocarbon, is also the technical name for an alkane in general, but in most cases it refers specifically to a linear, or normal alkane — whereas branched, or isoalkanes are also called isoparaffins. It is distinct from the fuel known in Britain and South Africa as paraffin oil or just paraffin, which is called kerosene in most of the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.
Pure paraffin oil is supposed to be the cleanest burning and this is the same as "mineral oil" (which has additives though... don't use it for lamps) as sold in drugstores. Generic lamp oil comes 2nd, and 1K-kerosene 3rd. Red kerosene is better and will actually work in diesel engines. Then there's Kleen Heat, Biodiesel, Citronella oil and motor kerosene which can all be used in the lamp.

For emergency use the following will work: mineral spirits, diesel, home heating fuel, jet A (apparently as good or better than lamp oil). More extreme and only for use outside: motor oil, wd40 or similar (also runs your diesel engine), olive oil, canola oil, vodka, listerine mouthwash, charcoal lighter fluid.

Not to be used (regarded dangerous): jet K, gasoline (also called petrol elsewhere or benzine), naphtha, rubbing alcohol, mineral oil and castor oil.

(I got all of that from Wikipedia, I'm not a chemist fortunately).

Mineral spirits, turpentine, thinner, lacquer thinner is a similar minefield but I think turpentine is the same as mineral spirits?

A mixture of 85% ethanol, 10% water, 3% methanol, 1% aceton and 1% pyridine is called "spiritus" in Holland and used for cleaning (windows) and fuel. The burner is like a bowl covered with a metal screen. It's mainly used for fondue. Wikipedia shows that this is called "Denatured alcohol" in English. I think this is what causes most burns during accidents when it is used for lighting BBQ's or in oil-lamps.

White spirit is derived from paraffin... my head spins, time to stop ;-)

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 01-03-2009, 22:31   #29
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Paint thinner and mineral spirits are pretty much the same thing and quite similar to Kerosene/paraffin. Mineral spirits - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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I switched out to mineral spirits in my lamps. Seems to burn brighter, it's cheaper, and I already need mineral spirits for certain jobs so I don't need to lug around an additional fuel. It does give off a bit of a chemical smell, unlike the lamp oil, but not enough to bother me.
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Old 03-05-2009, 09:09   #30
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Lamp Fuel - Price/oz

Kerosene + isopropol alcohol (add 1 oz/gallon, max 5%) $ 0.03
Crown Gallon Paint Thinner - Lowes $ 0.07
Crown Gallon Low Odor Mineral Spirits - Lowe's $ 0.10
LAMPLIGHT FARMS 18 Oz Clear Ultra-Pure® Paraffin Lamp Oil $ 0.33
LAMP OIL HOLLOWICK QT. 119023 - HamiltonMarine $ 0.44
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