Antiques oil lamps are not just for collecting but are useful during a power outage, for decorating a table or for use to create ambience in your home. Proper care and maintenance of antique oil lamps makes them easy to light and easy to use.

Purchase odourless lamp oil, so look for brands advertising smokeless and odourless which will cut down on black chimneys and the need for increased ventilation. Use coloured oils in lamps that have a clear bottom. This is especially nice for holidays and special occasions.

Replace the wicks when they become too short to absorb the oil. Oil lamps are meant to burn the oil and not the wick, so having adequate wicking is very important. Be sure to measure the width of your wick so it will fit the wick holder.

Trim the wick edge into a half hexagon shape for a nicely shaped flame, or straight across for a straight flame. After lighting your lamp a few times, you will see just how to trim the wick to make it burn nicely.

Insert new wicking into the holder and turn the crank until the wick is secure and coming through the top of the wick holder. You will adjust the flame after lighting.
Fill the bottom of the lamp with oil and screw the wick holder into place. Make sure that your wick is long enough to reach well into the oil.

Let the wick soak for a few hours until it is fully saturated with the oil. Test this by rubbing your finger gently on the exposed wick. If it is wet enough you will get an oily residue on your fingers.

Light the wick with a match and quickly replace the chimney. The flame will burn upward. Adjust the wick with the crank to the desired flame height.
Tips & Warnings
  • Old wicking tends not to hold its oil very well. Replace wicking when it looks frayed or overused and you will get a nice flame.
  • Keep chimneys clean and sparkling by running them through the gentle cycle in your dishwasher.
  • Replace old chimneys that are cracked and broken with new ones. These can be found at most craft supply stores.
  • Trim wicks when they become overly charred or after every three to four uses.