*Lamp Oil and Wick Burn Time*
By: Mamabear
08 April 2004

Lamp oil was one of my first purchases when I started storing preps. Lamp oil and wicks are relatively inexpensive and I felt good having them in my pantry.



I decided to run a burn time experiment to determine how long a half gallon of lamp oil (as shown above -- 64 fluid ounces or just under 2 liters) and a wick would last.

The wicks come 3 to a pack at Wal-Mart and are about 8 inches long each.



I trimmed the wick to a crown shape.

Then I fired up my lamp!

I found that a half gallon of standard lamp oil lasted about 150 hours, conservatively (my actual burn time was 154.5 hours). When I measured the wick, only ¼" (6 mm) had been burned.

Extrapolating these numbers, then, a jug of lamp oil should last 30 days if you keep the wick trimmed and burn it for 5 hours a day (I figured from 1800 - 2300 would be a reasonable length of time to use a lamp in a no-power situation).

One wick has about 5" of usable material if the reservoir is kept full of oil. The other 3" are fed through the burner. So one wick should last through about 20 jugs of lamp oil…a 3-pack would last through about 60!


After my experiment, I was initially dismayed at the vast quantities of oil and wicks in my basement. However, they could be very good barter material. Inexpensive to acquire now (in a non-emergency time), they store easily, and are not readily fabricated in a post-SHTF situation.

I would also like to direct readers to Stryder’s excellent lamp oil article "Oil Lamp Basics" for specifics on how to trim wicks and make efficient use of oil lamps.


In summary, many of us have advanced in our alternate energy stores to solar panels, wind generators, and inverters,. However, a gallon of lamp oil and a pack of wicks might just come in handy one day either as usable supplies for your family, or as barter material..

All materials at this site not otherwise credited are Copyright © 1996 - 2004 Trip Williams. All rights reserved. May be reproduced for personal use only. Use of any material contained herein is subject to stated terms or written permission.