How to make a Fat Lamp (Photos)
By Steven L. Doran
Fat lamps are known by the name of stone lamps, cruise lamps, grease lamps, slot lamps, and Betty lamps.Lamps can be made of stone, wrought iron, sheet iron, sheet brass, heat resistant glass or clay, sea shells, fresh water shells like muscles, they can have a lid or not, but for use in the field simple is better, find a rock that has a depression and will hold oil and you are all set.
Fuel is any type of vegetable, mineral oil or animal fat as fuel to burn, although results will vary. Animal tallow or some type of motor oil works best but smoke can be an issue if the oil is dirty.
To prepare animal fat in the field , put the raw fat in a pan and heat it enough to turn it to liquid. After this, pour it into the the lamp, whereby it should solidify again in less than half an hour depending on the type of fat used. Some fat when burning has a pleasant smell, and some is pretty nasty like fish oil and the lamp will generally not smoke if the wick is kept short.
When the lamp is lit, it will conduct sufficient heat to liquefy the entire pan again eventually if fat is used verses vegetable or mineral oil. Fat is easier to use because it will turn solid when not in use and is easier to transport and ready to light when you reach your destination.
Wicks can be made of any material that burns completely (i.e., natural fibers) and is able to conduct the type of fuel you are using will work as a wick. Like fuel types, results vary on wick materials, also. Traditional types of wicks include rope, strips of old clothing even dry plant fibers twisted together will work. If you want to carry a wick in your pocket strands from a cotton mop head work well with fat fuels as they are loosely twisted and hold a sufficient amount of fuel in the wick to make lighting easier.
A fat lamp provides light for an extended period of time, in a emergency situation light may be a needed asset to survive. A fat lamp is ready to go as soon as you put the fuel in. Fat lamps put out at least as much light as a candle or more, depending on how the wick is adjusted. The amount of light put out by a fat lamp can also be increased by using more than one wick placed randomly along the edge of the pan.