Slush Lamp Basics

The basic slush lamp has 4 parts: 1) a small vessel that holds oil for fuel, 2) oil – whether vegetable or mineral in nature, 3) a wick that draws the fuel by capillary action, 4) an optional but helpful wick holder that stabilizes the wick and limits the flame spread. Fats can be used in similar fashion which melt as the flame burns, but this crosses over into the category of candle, depending on the melt point of the material. A good example of this is a Quilliq.

Some years ago, when my sons and I were in Boy Scouts, we went to a “snow camp” for a weekend. Being from the Bay Area in California, this opportunity to experience snow was novel for us. The first year we went I built a Quinzee shelter, and realized that a traditional feature would be a Quilliq for light and warmth. So, I rummaged around for an empty soda can and cut it with my knife about 1 1/2 inches from the bottom. I visited the cooks in the camp’s kitchen who provided me with vegetable oil and a paper towel that I rolled into a wick. Thus, I was able to improvise a modern day slush lamp.

The photo illustrates a more rustic slush lamp displaying the 4 parts. The wick is a piece of cotton batting, using vegetable oil as fuel. A bigger vessel lasts longer but if too large is not as portable. I would love to see other examples of slush lamps if you have made some of your own.

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4 thoughts on “Slush Lamp Basics

  1. Yes… thanks to a dinner at a Chinese all-you-can-eat restaurant, I gleaned the shell for my lamp… saved a trip to the beach!

  2. Hi Ken,

    I’ve found that the ubiquitous little foil pouches that prepackaged foods and seasonings come in make very quick easy slush lamps. The idea occurred to me a I open a pack of instant noodles that came with a powdered seasoning in a foil pouch. After consuming the soup, I poured a little vegetable oil in, twisted a bit of paper towel, lit it and voila. You can also make you own foil lamp base out of several folds of standard foil or heavy foil. A small strip of foil can serve as the wick holder. Give it a try and see what you think. This can also be combined with the alcohol swab tender idea, since these always come in foil pouches!

  3. in little house book, the long winter, ma made a betty lamp. take a square of cloth,place ,arge button in center, draw up sides and tie with string close to button. place on saucer filled with grease such as axle or other lard etc., put some on cloth and light it

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