shtf planning - oil lamps

SHTF planning 1, how to make an oil lamp. This article will be linked with other articles in series as we go along. We will start with basics and move into advanced survival tips and tricks you can have at your disposal.

Lets begin with some basics for urban shtf planning. The biggest questions asked are about heating with no fuel or location security. So we will begin with staying warm because, well freezing to death just isn’t cool. 

I just saw this question on another group. How do I keep warm in a SHTF scenario with no power, no fuel and no way to make modifications to the building. So I will attempt to answer this, fellow survivalists feel free to chime in. 

In a situation like this you need to think outside the box. Makeshift lamps are a bit dangerous. They work good for day time use but you do not want to leave those burning at night for obvious reasons.

Stoves are another good idea but if you are in a city how will you keep it burning with limited fuel? This also requires you to run a chimney out your window creating a great big sign saying hey I am right here come get my stuff. 

Many people think that looting won’t begin within a few weeks when in fact it will start within 24 hours. Never underestimate looters. This is a very deadly mistake that should be avoided at all costs.

So let’s focus on not so conventional ideas. First of all you need to insulate your house. This means rolls of plastic and if at all possible heavy woven blankets. Cover each window with the plastic and you can use painters tape to secure this. 

Once you have your plastic in place you may want to use those blankets to cover the plastic and double insulate. Just doing this one thing will make a huge difference in heat retention. Going a step further and sealing each room with a plastic or cloth curtain will improve this even more.

Now back to that stove idea. As we said the smoke from a conventional fire burning device is a big hello signal. You can avoid this by starting now and saving oils that can be burned in oil lamps. While it’s not the best heating solution it is one that does not give away your location readily. So lets get on with how to make an oil lamp.

How to make an oil lamp

Fact: The average oil lamp produces about 900 BTU per hour.

For oil lamps you simply need a container such as a jar with a lid and wic. For the wic try to find cordage made of natural fibers , do not use synthetic materials. Make sure the wic has a smooth surface otherwise it may char badly and try to use a 1/4 inch thickness or twist smaller twine together for desired size.

Punch a hole in your lid large enough that your wic will fit through but not too large. Leave about 1/4 inch projecting out the top of the lid. Some folks make a stand for the wick which helps a bit but we have done this without them as well. Stands ar more for lamps with no wick support or lid.

The stand is basically a wire wrapped around a nail to form a coil so support the wick. Its hard to explain to we will later attach a link to this particular topic.

Make sure your wick has a long enough tail that a few inches of it is on the bottom of the jar in the oil, tap a few small air holes around the edge of your lid, inset the wick into the oils, close the jar and you are set to go.

Keep in mind, used cooking oils may become thick so its a good idea to keep some sort of thinning agent on hand. You can mix oils with olive oil, a small amount of kerosene or a standard lamp oil. DO NOT use gasoline or lighter fluid, this could be dangerous. We accept no responsibility if you do.

Safety Precautions.

So now that you know how to make your lamp lets make sure you stay safe. Keep these away from flammables, place them in locations that you WILL NOT knock them over. Freezing is bad but burning to death is horrible.

Make sure you have means of circulating fresh air on occasion. You have an open flame that is consuming oxygen however as long as you have some air exchange it should not be a major factor. The problem begins if you try to burn too many at once. If you feel dizzy or nausea then immediately get fresh air. 

NEVER leave oil lamps burning while you sleep! Always have someone watching them or put them out.