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 How to Use an Oil Lamp

How to Use an Oil Lamp

Feb 9th 2023

Ever wondered how to use an oil lamp?

Or what's so special about them?

Or even, What's an oil lamp?

Great questions! At Danforth, where oil lamps have been at the heart of our craft for decades, we know and love these beautiful pieces, and we want to share that love with you. Whether you've had an oil lamp sitting unlit on a shelf for years, you just received your first one for Christmas, or you're considering buying one for the first time, here are some of our favorite things about oil lamps.


First things first. An oil lamp is a lamp that burns oil to create light, and it consists of three main parts: chamber, burner, and globe (also known as chimney).

Chambers can be made out of many different materials, including ceramic or glass. Ours, of course, are made of fine pewter, and each one we sell is spun on a century-old lathe, by hand, by one of our talented pewter artisans.

The chamber holds several ounces of lamp oil, which fuels the flame via the wick. (We use and recommend paraffin oil.)

The burner screws into the chamber. The wick sits inside the chamber, soaking up the oil, and snakes up through the burner, which is where you light the flame. That part is then covered with a globe, which protects and enhances the flame.

Click here to see a video on how to light your Danforth oil lamp.


Oh, we're so glad you asked!

Here are some of our favorite things...

  • Oil lamps burn cleanly. Unlike candles, which burn wax, produce soot,and can release harmful chemicals in the air, oil lamps burn cleanly and without smoke.
  • Our oil lamps last for generations. Pewter is a durable material that doesn't tarnish or rust, and when well taken care of, it will last for generations.

The only parts of an oil lamp that you have to replace are the wick and the oil, so over time, even a $200 oil lamp may be more economical than replacing $25 candles every month.

  • Oil lamps create a truly unique ambience in any room, indoors or out. There's really no other lighting like an oil lamp. It's soft yet bright, adjustable due to the burners we use, and doesn't flicker. They complement a fire in the woodstove as well as twinkle lights in the backyard. Alone, a medium or large lamp can illuminate a porch, giving even enough light to read by. They stand as a gorgeous centerpiece on a beautifully laid out table for guests. They provide romantic lighting for two. They provide meditative lighting for one. They can even make a board game night feel more intimate! Oil lamps are incredibly versatile.
  • They're as functional as they are beautiful. Our oil lamps reliably provide light and even some warmth during a power outage. If you're caught in a storm, it's a huge relief to know your oil lamp will light up the darkness and provide a peaceful sense of security until the electricity returns.


  • Light it at dinner parties to create a warm, beautiful atmosphere.
  • Create a nightly ritual around lighting it, especially on long winter nights. Many people love to meditate, journal, knit, listen to music, or do other peaceful, mindful activities in the soft glow of their oil lamp.
  • Use it on special occasions such as weddings to symbolize light and joy.
  • Light it during a power outage. Not only does an oil lamp provide light and warmth; it also provides beauty and a sense of safety during a time of uncertainty.

If you're really adventurous, bring it camping! Some people use their lamp while out in the wilderness for a real "glamping" experience. (Just be careful and make sure to pack it well.)


What we love most about our oil lamps is that they become a part of the home they live in. Often, families come to us with stories of how their oil lamps have helped them carry on traditions, create the ambience for important events and conversations, and commemorate life's biggest milestones.

What will your oil lamp mean to you?

We hope your oil lamp helps you do all those things and more. And we'd love it if you share those things with us! You can post a photo and tag us on Facebook or Instagram, or send us your pictures at