Olive Oil Versus Lamp Oil?

I just purchased several inexpensive oil lamps and I placed them around the house in case of power outage. I decided to do a trial run; I went ahead and lit them all, burning a cheaper Walmart product, Medallion lamp oil. After the fact I got a little worried and opened all the doors in my house to ventilate (we have 4 young children). Is lamp oil safe to burn inside? There was nothing about it on the packaging. Should I just abandon the cheap stuff and only burn olive oil? Does anyone out there know about lamp oil dangers? I'd be most grateful.


By noorly from Northwest

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December 13, 20112 found this helpful

As long as you trim the wicks to about 1/4 inch before each use they will be fine. The reason to trim the wick is to alleviate smoke and soot which is what causes the pollution. Even olive oil will create smoke and soot if wicks aren't kept trimmed so you might as well save yourself some money by using lamp oil ;-)

The only thing I would worry about is keeping the lamps out of reach of the children. Oh, and always blow out the lamps; never try to turn the wick down to put the flame out!

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December 13, 20111 found this helpful

You should watch everyone in your house for any kind of reaction, such as respiratory symptoms or headaches when you burn oil lamps to be sure it's safe for your family.


I had oil lamps from the time I was just a young teenager. I loved them & burned them frequently in my bedroom & later my home with never any problems. Then in my late 20s or early 30s, I started getting these odd, sharp, overall chest pains & a headache when I would burn the lamps. I thought maybe I had bad oil,or it had something to do with the dye (I loved the colored stuff), so I replaced it with a different brand of clear oil - same reaction.

Thought maybe it was carbon monoxide, so I opened windows, didn't help. Eventually I began having the same reaction to some candles, so I can't burn even those!

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October 12, 20200 found this helpful

I have heard some countries r now making wicks with lead in them. That could explain your reaction to both oil lamps and candles. Try looking for cotton wicks.

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December 14, 20110 found this helpful

Olive oil works a treat in oil lamps but that is an expensive fuel!

Purpose made lamps and oil need to be watched for the country of origin as several countries manufacturing the oil are using lead in wicks, and to make the oil burn smoother and last longer-you don't want to be burning that in your house! You may want to avoid using the kerosene lamp oil as it does have some health concerns associated with its use indoors.


The same countries are putting lead into scented candles as well, the worst offenders being China and Mexico. Here is a link with several articles gathered on one page: (not that I'm endorsing soy candles, actually beeswax is the best imho)

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December 16, 20110 found this helpful

I have never heard of using olive oil in lamps! All of the lamps that I have are supposed to use either the modern lamp oils from the stores, or kerosene. Kerosene, which of course is what everyone used in pioneer times, has a distinctive odor, so you may want to stick to the modern products.


In pioneer times, people burned lamps inside the home ALL the time. Why woulldn`t it be safe to do so now.

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August 14, 20180 found this helpful

average lifespan was quite low compared to now. They could easily have died of something else first. They easily could have been developing lung disease from the fumes but died from other more rapid killers.

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March 7, 20190 found this helpful

people died of Tuberculosis at alarming rates in pioneer times, just as they do now in parts of the world where there's no electricity so kerosene lamps are the main form of lighting.


I'm from rural Scotland and people my mothers generation (now in their 40s and 50s) have weak lungs because they grew up using paraffin lamps.
as i understand it, modern super refined paraffin/ lamp oil is much safer than the old stuff but it still gives me a headache almost immediately, as do paraffin candles.

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May 31, 20190 found this helpful

The people in earlier eras who burned kerosene didn't know any better. We do.

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October 9, 20190 found this helpful

Modern houses are much more air tight than the old ones. So, you get higher concentrations faster.

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October 20, 20191 found this helpful

What planet are you from!
Olive oil since time began to burn in lamps, millennia before kerosene.

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October 22, 20190 found this helpful

years ago I found some glass containers that used oil and wicks. I replaced the wicks and the oil and it smokes really badly. I just used the madallion oil from Walmart so am wondering if with using the olive oil they would not smoke.


I trimmed the wicks very good so thinking it is the oil. Opinions??

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November 8, 20190 found this helpful

in pioneer times they didn't have the same quality of seals on windows and doors that we have now, so airflow was a lot better back then.

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November 9, 20190 found this helpful

Define "pioneer days"... since kerosene (as such) dates from the 1850s.

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March 12, 20200 found this helpful

Whale oil too was used as lamp oil... Olive oil is probably the healthiest, but also most expensive. Corn oil can be used, I find Corn oil makes the air heavier to breathe. If it's used for short term (1 DAY use) I'd go either way depending what you can Afford. Long term you don't want to use any oils.... Your breathing in garbage... As if you're a Cigarette smoker~ But if your freezing or in the dark use what you can... But remember Crack the window a tiny bit to allow oxygen in, 1/4" If your going to heat your house with it...

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April 5, 20200 found this helpful

Olive oil is what is and was used in the Middle East, kerosene is a chemical

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