Burners for kerosene

Kerosene (or paraffin for the British) is generally called "oil" in everyday language, but is not an oil, but a mixture of hydrocarbons, chemically speaking.

Raw oil and some refined products had been in use for some medical purposes and even for lighting in ancient times (Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerosene gives us some thorough information about what we may call the pre-history of this fuel). We don't know today what type of lamps were built for liquid mineral fuels before the 19th. century.

After the pioneer-years in modern times (Lukasiewicz in Poland in 1853 or some experimentation in Pechelbronn in Alsace in 1845), crude oil was successfully refined in America around the mid 1850s. Benjamin Silliman (USA) and Abraham Gesner (Canada) must be mentioned as two of the major pioneers in refining crude oil to kerosene. The latter introduced the name "kerosene".

The very first American lamps for coal-oil and for kerosene seem to have used center-draft (tubular) wicks. Then came cheaper and more popular burners for kerosene-lighting using flat-wicks. Some examples were imported from Vienna (Austria) to the USA, soon imitated and improved there. The lamps were exported worldwide. From 1863 on, European lamp makers started making lamps for the new fuel, and the best manufacturers were located in Germany (Berlin, Ruhr), Belgium (Herstal near Liege), Austria (Vienna) and Great-Britain (Birmingham).

In the illustrations below, we tried to show each burner with the appropriate chimney, in order to help the user in the good choice and obtain proper light output without odor or soot. It is also very important to use good quality wicks and a pure fuel.

Please refer to our advices for a table with chimney and wick sizes.

United Colors of...

A kerosene-burner is assembled from dozens of parts. We show here an Idealbrenner made still in 2002 by Den Haan in Rotterdam (Netherlands) on tooling bought from the former German company Brökelmann, Jaeger & Busse. DHR also offer marine lamps and other good quality burners.

The other major current European burner-manufacturer is Gaudard located in France. They offer a good range of Kosmos, rope-wick and flat-wick burners and lamps.

Karlskrona in Sweden also offer lamps with imported burners.

Idealbrenner, Den Haan, Rotterdam, NL


Flat wick / flat flame burners.



Lempereur & Bernard

 Vienna-type chimneys

After a short-time pioneer-period with center-draft lamps for kerosene lighting, the new fuel used flat wick flat flame burners. The appropriate chimney is bulged, so-called Vienna-type. On the left: two American examples, then a Belgian burner by Lempereur & Bernard.
Duplex-burners Duplex-burners



James Hinks of Birmingham (GB) introduced in 1865 the Duplex-burner with two flat wicks parallel to each other. Some improvements were soon added: a gallery-lifter for easy lighting, and snuffers as extinguishers; also automatic extinguisher versions for accidental tilting. The most appropriate Duplex-chimney is an oval flattened bulge chimney.

For the use in lanterns, many chimneyless burners were developed, like this Barton-burner.

Folded flat wick burners.

Kosmos-burner Kosmos-chimneyImproved Kosmos chimney Wrong chimney!!! One can often see inappropriate chimneys on Kosmos-burners, like this Matador-chimney. The global design of a burner includes a specific chimney-profile in order to guide the air flow to the flame and obtain optimal light output, avoid odor and soot.

Wild & Wessel of Berlin introduced in 1865 the idea of a flat wick folded to a round flame, later called the Kosmos-burner.  The appropriate chimney is a constricted one, and stretches the flame upwards. A tapered version of the chimney is called "Reform" or "improved Kosmos".

Round flame burners with a flame-spreader.



Chimneys for the Sonnenbrenner Sebastian-Brenner

Round-flame burners were also made in different versions with a small disk located above the wick. This disk can be borne by a rod or a meshed tube. According to the size of the disk, the chimney can be shouldered, straight or bulged. The Sonnenbrenner by Ditmar in Vienna uses a tubular wick fed by a permanent transport wick. The half frosted chimney is very rare, as frosted chimneys were almost never made for kerosene-lighting.

This Sebastianbrenner by  Schwintzer & Gräff in Berlin includes a middle-sized flame-spreader borne by a meshed tube, also called a "thimble". The chimney is straight (gas-chimney).

Matador-Brenner Chimneys for the Matador-Brenner Globe-Vulcan Mitrailleuse

The Matador-burner is the most popular burner with flame-spreader in continental Europe. It was developed by Ehrich & Graetz of Berlin toward 1895. The meshed tube regulates the central air draft. Caution:: Modern burners are made and offered under the name "Matador", but don't have the authentic design of the original matador-burner, not the same wick size or texture.

The Central-Vulkan or Globe-Vulcan burner made by Wild & Wessel of Berlin is equipped with a large flame-spreader sitting high on a rod. The chimney has both a constriction for a thorough air/fuel mixture, and a bulge to spread  comfortably the flame.

The Mitrailleuse-burner bye Schwintzer & Gräff of Berlin uses several rope-wicks (generally 12) to form a tubular flame.

Bürgerbrenner by. Carl Holy. Odin-chimneys Shouldered Odin Shouldered Odin

Carl Holy of Berlin developed many different burners. The flame spreader is borne by a rod in some models, by a meshed tube in others. The chimney shape is differs according to the burner type and disk size. Some burners made by Holy were sold in Great Britain under the name Wizard.

Burners for miniature lamps.

Miniature burners Sparbrenner Astra-Soleil

Here are shown several burners in use in miniature lamps or night-lights. From left to right: Sparbrenner, Perkeo, Starburner (Sternbrenner), a small Perkeo and a burner for dollhouses.

Flame of a "Sparbrenner".

This small version of the Astra-Soleil lamp looks like a gasoline-lamp, but was made for kerosene. The chimney is composite, partly metal to prevent breakage.

Center-draft burners and a fan lamp.

Sepulchre Caby Sonnenlampe Hitchcock

Center-draft lamp with a complicated flame- spreader by Louis Sepulchre in Herstal near Liege (Belgium).

Lamp by Caby in Herstal near Liege (Belgium). "Sonnenlampe"
by Kaestner & Toebelmann, Erfurt (Germany).
Not exactly "center"-draft, the chimneyless Hitchcock-lamp has a fan to force air up to the burner.

Important notice about kerosene-burners and lamps

The main difference between center-draft lamps and side-draft burners is the fact that CD-lamps only accept their own burner which perfectly fits around the central air tube, where side-draft burners (i.e. Kosmos, Matador, Odin, flat-flame etc. etc.) have a widely standardized fount-thread and can be used on any fount having a suitable collar. This feature was one of the main improvements of the kerosene-era.

Therefore, it is not correct to speak about "Kosmos-lamps", because any lamp can use any side-draft burner with a suitable thread!

Here again, when identifying a lamp's origin, the general rule is to identify the burner's manufacturer and the lamp's maker separately, as they could be totally different, often even from different countries. French lamps equipped with German or Austrian burners are a common example.

Wick-fed incandescent burners.

Kronos 1911 Kronos 1914 Chimneys for incandescence Aladdin

Once the gas mantle was invented for gas lighting, burners for other fuels were developed on the same principle. Kerosene lamps were made with better air inlets and higher chimneys to obtain a blue flame and make the mantle glow. Appropriate chimneys are straight or slightly shouldered. We show here two versions of the Kronos-burner by Hugo Schneider of Leipzig (Germany).

The Aladdin-lamp was developed in the USA from 1909 on, and can still be found in Europe.

Kerosene-vapor burners.



Far left: Standard-Light, a rare gravity-fed kerosene vapor-lamp with an upright Welsbach burner.

Left: a pressure kerosene pendant by
Martin Brandt & C°, Berlin.

Pressure lanterns for kerosene were very popular throughout the world. Ehrich & Graetz developed the Petromax still available today. We show here a Geniol, one of many similar models.


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