Paraffin lamp, late 19th century.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 18cm x 32cm

Paraffin lamp, late 19th century.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Paraffin lamps such as this one have a wick that slowly absorbs the fuel, and the amount of light given out can be controlled by lowering or raising the wick. With heat, the paraffin turns into a vapour and burns strongly around the wick. The burning vapour gives out intense light because it is so hot. The glas chimney was an important invention, because it increased the draught around the wick, making the flame burn more brightly. This type of lamp was used a great deal during the late 19th century.

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