Kerosene lamp

Facts about Kerosene lamp

We found 13 facts about Kerosene lamp

A Polish invention

The kerosene lamp was the invention of a brilliant pharmacist, a Pole, Ignacy Lukasiewicz. As an employee of a pharmacy selling kerosene for medical purposes, his determination and insightful work caused a change in its use for non-pharmaceutical purposes.

The kerosene lamp invented by Łukasiewicz quickly became popular and widely available. Furthermore, using kerosene for lighting paved the way for exploring further uses for petroleum. In this sense, the creator of the kerosene lamp can be considered a pioneer of the petroleum industry.

Kerosene lamp
A kerosene lamp is a lighting device that uses kerosene as fuel.
It was invented as a result of work on distilling petroleum.
The first kerosene lamp was constructed in 1853 by a Pole, Ignacy Lukasiewicz.
Lukasiewicz was a pharmacist who worked in the Lviv pharmacy "Under the Gold Star," owned by Piotr Mikolasch, a well-known Lviv businessman and pharmacist.
In the first half of the 19th century, intensive attempts were made to obtain more efficient and cheaper fuel than the various types of oil and their mixtures used to date.

To this end, research was conducted on crude oil, from which kerosene was obtained by distillation. Naphtha was first made from natural bitumen by Abraham Gesner, a Canadian physician and geologist considered one of the fathers of the petrochemical industry. The product Gesner discovered was patented under the name "kerosene" and is mainly known by that name today in Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

The method of obtaining kerosene from crude oil was developed first by Filip Neriusz Walter, a Polish chemist specializing in organic chemistry and natural products chemistry. He was also the creator of Polish chemical nomenclature. He was the first to distill kerosene from crude oil and study its properties. As a result of his work, kerosene became a common commodity, initially as a pharmaceutical, until the construction of the kerosene lamp. In 1847 the French government awarded him the Cross of the Legion of Honour for his scientific merits.

Naphtha, one of the lighter (0.78-0.81 g/cm3) fractions of petroleum, is almost as old as medicine.

Its use is first reported as early as the ninth century by the Persian physician, alchemist, and philosopher Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakarijj ar-Razi, also known as Rhazes. He was one of the most prominent physicians of the medieval Islamic world, the author of numerous medical works, also translated into Latin. He was the first to describe the medicinal use of kerosene (it is still used today to treat conjunctivitis, mastitis, auricles, nausea, motion sickness, hallucinations, etc.).

Pharmacies had it in their assortment, including "Pharmacy under the Gold Star" where Ignacy Lukasiewicz worked. At that time, it had to be imported from Italy for substantial amounts. In order to reduce the costs, Łukasiewicz started to work on improving the methods of distilling oil from wells in Słoboda Rungurska (a village in Ukraine).

The situation changed when a Jew came to Łukasiewicz's pharmacy and offered to sell him a bottle of oil coming from the area of Borysław, where peasants collected it from hollows and ponds.
The peasants used it to treat fasciolosis (a parasitic disease caused by the liver fluke - Fasciola hepatica). The pharmacy began to buy oil from Ukrainian peasants and sold the purified oil as medicine at a price competitive with Italian oil. The pharmacists (Mikolasch, Zeh and Łukasiewicz) formed a company with a capital of 2500 guilders, for which they bought several thousand pots of oil and began distilling it. Unfortunately, the local pharmacies were not interested in their raw material, as they preferred the Italian specification.
However, Łukasiewicz did not stop his distillation attempts and finally found the proper fraction, collected at the temperature of 250-350 °C (482 - 662 °F), devoid of light petrols and heavy hydrocarbons.
The resulting kerosene burned very well, so Łukasiewicz decided to use it for lighting rooms.
The first attempt to use kerosene for lighting ended almost tragically. Łukasiewicz used an oil lamp that was not adapted to the new fuel, and the lamp exploded.

Miraculously the apothecary avoided severe burns. Łukasiewicz turned to a Lviv tinsmith Adam Bratkowski, who converted the oil lamp into one that could use kerosene. In time, they constructed a proper kerosene lamp.

The kerosene did not give as bright a light as the previously used rapeseed oil, but the flame was stable, and the cost of operation was much lower.

The Piarist Fathers' hospital in Lviv helped Łukasiewicz popularize his invention.
On July 31, 1853, in Lviv, doctor Zaorski, a surgeon, operated on his patient Władysław Holecki. The operation occurred at night in a room lit by one of Ignacy Łukasiewicz's first kerosene lamps.
The kerosene lamp was more efficient than candles and cheaper to operate than oil and gas lighting.
The first kerosene lamps were lit in Lviv as early as March 1853, and they came into general use in 1860-1865.
After an unsuccessful first attempt to use kerosene in a structurally unsuitable oil lamp, Łukasiewicz and the tinsmith Bratkowski constructed a prototype kerosene lamp.

This lamp was massive, consisting of a cylindrical tin tank for kerosene. It served as a protection against a possible explosion of the fuel. A metal pipe with a mica window and holes for airflow was attached to the tank.

The wick, immersed in the tank, was led through the hole above the tank to the metal pipe. The wick protruded from the pipe by capillary action, ensuring the supply of kerosene and the formation of burned vapors.

Lamps were constantly being improved, as the first ones provided little light. They also took over the external construction of oil lamps from the first half of the 19th century.

There are several types of kerosene lamps.
These include:

  • Flat wick lamp - which burns kerosene drawn in through the wick by capillary action central draught lamp (tubular round wick), whose burner is fitted with a tall glass chimney (300 mm or higher) to provide a strong draught. The burner uses a wick made of cotton rolled into a tube to provide a "central draft."
  • The mantle lamp, is a variation of the central draft lamp. The mantle is a pear-shaped mesh of cloth placed over the burner. The mantle contains thorium or other rare earth salts. The first time it is used, the fabric burns out and the metal salts are transformed into oxides, leaving a very fine structure that glows under the heat of the burner flame. These lamps are much brighter than flat or round wick lamps, produce a whiter light and generate more heat. Mantle lamps can be fitted with a shade, and several lamps in a small building can warm it on cold days.
  • Oil lantern - a lamp with a flat wick designed for portable and outdoor use. There are three types of lanterns: dead flame, hot blast, and cold blast.
Oil lamps have been displaced by electricity.
However, they are still widely used in areas without electric lighting. The cost and danger of kerosene lighting are an ongoing problems in many countries.
The World Health Organization considers kerosene a polluting fuel and recommends that "governments and medical practitioners immediately stop promoting its use in the household."
Petroleum smoke contains high levels of harmful particulate matter, and household kerosene use is associated with a higher risk of cancer, respiratory infections, asthma, tuberculosis, cataracts, and adverse pregnancy outcomes.
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