A guide to self reliant living











1. Food

2. Manna

3. Water

4. Sanitation

5. Medical,

6. Kerosene heaters and cookers

7. Lighting

8. Wood
cooking and heating

9. Communi-cations

10. Essential

11. Home
built items

12. Electrical; generators
and power

13. War preparedness

14. Gardening


Miles Stair's SURVIVAL










Miles Stair's SURVIVAL



7. Lighting, by Miles Stair

Just a few of the simple but elegant kerosene lanterns & lamps owned by Mr. & Mrs. Miles Stair. Decorative, yes -- but functional. From left to right: Dietz Little Wizard lantern; Round wick (9/64") decorative night light; Kosmos Concierge with #15 burner; Lamplighter Farms lamp with #2 burner; Czech Mirror Wall Lamp; and the Mason Jar Burner with #2 burner on an antique blue pint canning jar.

We now enjoy the benefits of electric lighting, powered by electricity delivered to our homes through the national power grid, giving no more thought to lighting than it takes to flip a switch or write a check to pay the monthly electric bill. Few realize the grid is very fragile: a few years ago a tree fell in the mountains, touched several high voltage lines, and the ripple effect took out the power to 9 western states. In January, 2000, someone sabotaged a single transmission tower in central Oregon by simply cutting a guy wire support, and when the tower fell parts of three states lost electricity. The power grid intertie works both ways! It can feed power from one part of the country to another, but if one segment goes down, it can pull the entire system down with it.

Imagine the scenario if a group of dedicated terrorists made a concerted effort to sabotage the grid - no electricity for a long time. But far worse is planned. Spetznaz troops were actually caught several years ago on top of Hoover Dam. Alexander Lunov has stated that Russian backpack nukes are already buried on American soil -- and targeted for Grand Coulee on the Columbia River and Hoover on the Colorado, among other infrastructure targets. Recent reports say that Osama bin Laden has purchased 20 of the Russian backpack nukes, some of them already on American soil. The Chinese military has published articles on how they would target America's infrastructure PRIOR to any conflict. By any measure, our electrical grid is a fragile, far flung target -- a tempting target for any terrorists, and one relatively easy to take out.

It is therefore entirely prudent to plan on living without electricity provided by the national power grid. But how are we to provide lighting for our homes? The vast majority of American homes would get really dark after the remains of pine scented Christmas candles were used up -- perhaps a few hours at best. The answer, of course, is to provide lighting for ourselves.

An array of emergency flashlights, hand-cranked
lighting, and battery chargers used by the author. The $80.00 yellow BayGen windup radio in the back of the center photo is now a bad joke compared to the flashlight I sell at the link below!

Running a generator for electric lighting can work for a short power outage, but is a gross waste of precious fuel for any prolonged use. For nonelectric reading light we must return to advanced 19thCentury technology - kerosene lamps.

Victorian Era center draft lamps were designed and manufactured for daily use before electric lighting became available.  They are the finest lamps ever made and work now as well they did when new, given a bit of tender loving care.  See how to operate these lamps at my lighting site - www.MilesStair.com

Pressure gas lanterns, such as the Coleman, are commonly used for camp lighting, and are widely available. But these gasoline fueled lanterns are NOT designed for indoor use, are noisy, produce noxious fumes, and require fuel which may not be available. The unprepared will use Coleman lanterns until the supply of fuel or parts disappear, so it would be a wise choice to stock up on mantles as barter stock, as most campers only keep a few spares around.  Coleman did make a good kerosene pressure lantern:  these operating instructions are courtesy of New England Gardener.

The best possible pressure lantern is the Petromax , followed closely by its clone, the Butterfly 828R (right, above). Either of these units are so well made and versatile as to make the Coleman appear to be a toy (Coleman single mantle left above, double mantle in the center). And the Petromax has been perking along virtually unchanged for over 80 years, providing reliable lighting in the bush under extremely adverse conditions. They burn just about anything that could reasonably be called a fuel - kerosene, diesel, gasoline, corn oil, alcohol, etc, although for indoor use only kerosene should be used. I highly recommend the Petromax or its "Butterfly" clone, providing one follows the Petromax operating instructions and the Owner's Manual very carefully. In the event of hostilities or dangerous conditions, however, it is would be wise to keep the Petromax out of use for a time, as they produce sufficient light to act as a beacon to have - nots. Why advertise?

Rebuilt Petromax lanterns are now available for very reasonable prices from one source.  I have not checked them out, merely provide you with the link to GENIOL U.S.A., Inc. for your information.

For average use, regular wick style kerosene lamps and lanterns will provide the greatest use. Exotic models such as the Aladdin provide excellent light output, but the mantles and chimneys are quite fragile. At over $100.00 each, these models are also expensive.

The Kosmos provides less light than an Aladdin, but is incredibly sturdy and half the price of an Aladdin. The wicks and chimneys for Kosmos lamps are about a quarter the cost of similar parts for an Aladdin lamp. No contest there at all.

The Czech mirror wall lamp is an excellent lamp, designed for years of service. They provide sufficient light to illuminate a room - while hanging safely from a wall. At a cost of only about $20.00, these units are highly recommended.  They do look cheap compared with a Kosmos lamp, but they work, and you can get 4 of them for the price of one Kosmos Consierge!!!

The best buy for quality and light is the Mason Jar Burner lamp from Lehman's - if they still have them. These units consist of a short, hooded chimney, a #2 burner, an adaptor to fit a small mouth Mason jar, and a wick.  See the Kerosene Lamp Test for more details. 

There are of course cheap and fragile glass kerosene lamps sold at most discount stores, but these units are NOT designed for heavy duty use - they are more like occasional "mood enhancers." Nice to have, lovely to use occasionally, but I would not want to depend upon these alone for years of service. Also, extra chimneys are usually not available, rendering the lamp useless if breakage occurs.

Kerosene lanterns are best defined as the Dietz style, with a wire bail for easy carrying and wire guards that provide limited protection for the glass globe. This style of lantern is known for reliability and sturdiness. Even old railroad lanterns can provide years of service if cleaned properly . I have a bunch of them in various styles, sizes and vintages, and recommend them highly. If you have a motor home, camper or trailer, the sturdiness of this style of lantern makes them highly desirable for portable lighting.   Burn kerosene in kerosene lanterns!